Document Extensions to External Types Using DocC

Where would the extension pages live in that scenario?

I guess either documentation/mymodule-swift or documentation/mymodule/mymodule-swift?

I'd find the first case quite weird, as pages in documentation/mymodule would still list and refer to content in documentation/mymodule-swift which is a different sub-folder.

In the second case, the mymodule- prefix wouldn't be redundant itself, but the fact that it states mymodule there is. That is, one could also use some constant there (e.g. the swift.module-extensoin @franklin suggested).

I am not too familiar with the inner workings of DocC yet, so I didn't have that constraint in mind. I wouldn't want to tamper with these foundations right now tbh. I think we can find a good solution based on your suggestion that fits well within the existing model.

I therefore want to try to answer your questions regarding the module extension pages:

I don't think the symbol graph files currently contain the type information of the extended type (i.e. we wouldn't know if it is an actor/class/enum/struct/protocol. If that information can be added easily, I'd do that of course as I'll probably have to tamper with the generation of those files anyway. I'd suggest the terms "Extended Module" and "Extension" (if that information cannot be added easily) or as you suggested prefixed with the respective symbol kind, e.g. "Structure Extension".

I'd add a section "Extended Modules", which lists all the extended module pages.

This would also apply for the sidebar. The section header (i.e. the one on the same level as "Structures") would be "Extended Modules". This section only lists the extended module pages, not the extended symbol pages. This list's items can be expanded to reveal items for the extended type pages, which in turn can be expanded to reveal the member pages.

Basically, yes, however, using the absolute identifier would not be necessary, i.e. just # ``Swift`` or # ``Swift/Array`` would also be fine.

Absolute identifiers are always an option, but they are only necessary to refer to the original declaration (in an external module) of a shadowed member symbol, or the extended type itself.

As you mentioned, this ambiguity is not solved by absolute identifiers. I'd go with the disambiguation suffix you proposed. For example, if MyModule were to define a type called Swift with an inner type Array and also extend the standard library's Array, we'd get the following identifiers in the MyModule documentation catalogue:

For referring to the external documentation catalogue for the standard library:

/Swift

For referring to the standard library's Array type's page in the external documentation catalogue:

/Swift/Array

For referring to the locally declared type Swift in the local documentation catalogue:

Swift

or MyModule/Swift

or /MyModule/Swift

For referring to the locally declared type Swift.Array in the local documentation catalogue:

Swift/Array

or MyModule/Swift/Array

or /MyModule/Swift/Array

For referring to the "Extended Module" page for the standard library in the local documentation catalogue:

Swift-swift.module-extension

or MyModule/Swift-swift.module-extension

or /MyModule/Swift-swift.module-extension

For referring to the "Extension" page for the standard library's Array type in the local documentation catalogue:

Swift-swift.module-extension/Array

or MyModule/Swift-swift.module-extension/Array

or /MyModule/Swift-swift.module-extension/Array

I think this approach for URLs/identifiers meets all the requirements. There is no more ambiguity (i.e. even shadowed types can be referred to in documentation) and all identifiers translate 1:1 into valid URL-suffixes. Whenever we take a valid Swift symbol name (e.g. Swift.Int64) and transform it into a DocC identifier by replacing the dots by slashes, the identifier resolves to the exact same symbol. IMO, the syntax is very intuitive. The one non-intuitive case (the -swift.module-extension disambiguation syntax) only comes up if one declares a type with the same name as one of the extended modules (which should be extremely rare).

This sounds great! I think it strikes a good balance between an intuitive link syntax for the 99% of cases where you don't declare types that shadow what you import, while still making it possible to link to the right symbols in the rare cases.

Since there were a few changes to the original pitch here, it would be super helpful to update it with the changes so that we're all on the same page, since it seems like the main points of feedback have been resolved :pray: Over time, you can also consider integrating it as documentation in the Swift-DocC repo itself (so that it shows up on Documentation).

Thank you for your amazing progress and diligence here, and working through these edge-cases! Super excited for DocC getting this feature.

This is totally fair, I think the Swift-DocC project could benefit from more documentation for contributors in the area of topic URLs. This is the current documentation: Documentation.

2 Likes

I am super glad you like the outcome @franklin. I am very happy with the improvements we could achieve over my original pitch, so a big thank you to everyone who contributed their ideas and opinions!

I 100% agree! I'll create a new write-up based on the outcome of this discussion and post it here in the next couple of days.

1 Like

Reiterating everyone's thoughts that it's awesome to get this feature and a big thank you to you for working out these edge cases. :smiley:

2 Likes

Hi @theMomax! This is looking really great. Thanks for putting so much thought into this.

I've been following the discussion and I think we've arrived at a good solution here. I just have a few clarifying questions.


Are we only including the -swift.module-extension disambiguation suffix if we detect a collision with another top-level symbol? That would follow the way Swift-DocC's type disambiguation suffixes generally work but I wanted to clarify to be sure.

So then the default way to link to an Array extension (assuming you didn't define a top-level Swift symbol) would be:

``Swift/Array/init(_:)``

But in the case where I have defined a collision:

public enum Swift {
    case foo
}

I would have:

``Swift-swift.enum/foo``

and

``Swift-swift.module-extension/Array/init(_:)``

This follows the way Swift-DocC currently handles collisions as documented here: DocC Documentation: Link to Symbols and Other Content. So we would get this behavior effectively for "free" if we start including module extension symbols in the primary symbol graph.

The alternative of always including the disambiguation suffix would lead to a somewhat clunky authoring experience since developers would need to write out the full Swift-swift.module-extension suffix whenever they're referencing an extension symbol in their current package.


I'm also wondering if we should consider adjusting the disambiguation suffix to be -swift.module.extension since I think this follows the existing disambiguation suffixes a little better (like -swift.enum.case).


On another topic- it seems like the proposed solution here is to add two new symbol kinds to the primary symbol graph for a module that includes extensions:

  • module.extension
  • extension

The first to refer to the containing module and the second to refer to the symbol being extended. Is this right?


I'm wondering if we should have more nuanced kinds for the symbols being extended. I'm imagining we'll have auto-curation something like this:

<!-- SlothCreator.md -->

# Sloth Creator

## Topics

### Structures

...

### Protocols

...

### Extended Modules

- ``Swift``
- ``SwiftUI``
<!-- Swift.md -->

# ``Swift``

## Topics

### Extended Symbols

- ``Int``
- ``Sequence``
- ``Array``

But it might be nice to be able to support:

<!-- Swift.md -->

# ``Swift``

## Topics

### Extended Protocols

- ``Sequence``

### Extended Structures

- ``Int``
- ``Array``

This would also allow us to to put something like "Extended Structure" in the eyebrow text for the Int and Array pages instead of just "Extended Symbol".

Maybe we should just introduce an extension suffix to the existing kinds in the symbol graph?

So we would have:

- `swift.struct.extension`
- `swift.protocol.extension`

Instead of a more generic:

- `swift.extension`

Thank you again for putting this together! I'm really looking forward to being able to document extensions with Swift-DocC.

2 Likes

Thank you for diving deep on this @theMomax, it's probably the most complex design area in DocC and I think you've ended up in a good place. The approach is intuitive, while still accommodating the most extreme edge cases :sparkles:

I agree with Ethan, the mix of dashes and periods is a bit jarring. The dash is meant to signal that the symbol name is over and now disambiguation has begun. The periods are there to separate components of the disambiguation suffix.

3 Likes

+1 on this, makes sense!

These are great questions, and I think there is more overall discussion to be had around how the symbol graph format can potentially evolve to better surface extension information. The current format already records some information. For example, the extended types are not currently emitted as symbols in the symbol graph I believe—should they be? If so, how does DocC differentiate the extended type and the definition of the type, which is important for USR-based link resolution?

I'm wondering if we should discuss potential symbol graph format evolutions in a separate post, so that we can keep this thread focused on end-user experience and iterate on this original pitch.

5 Likes

not sure if it would be enough information, but could it infer their existence from pathComponents?

Yes, the disambiguation suffix is only included in case of a collision of course.

Yes, I'd go with the default behavior that currently exists for other collisions.

Definitely, yes! Thanks for pointing this out. Would have been a shame to break this consistency!

This would be the ideal outcome, I think. Knowing the symbol kind of the extended type is definitely a helpful feature. I will include this feature in the write-up of this discussion.

This sounds very reasonable to me! However, while its good to have these things in mind, I won't include it in the pitch write-up just yet. This pitch is UX-focused and, honestly, I just need a little more time to get a clear picture of the implementation strategy, so I can't really tell what consequences such decision might have. I'll probably launch another thread to discuss these topics in the next weeks as @franklin suggested.

3 Likes

Hi everyone, this is the updated proposal, based on my initial pitch and the discussion in this thread:

(Introduction and Motivation didn't change, but I still included them so it is a more concise read and also because the example is referenced later.)

Introduction

DocC does not include extensions to a type defined in an external module in the documentation catalogue, even though the extension and its contents are declared in the documented module.

Consider the following potential addition to the SlothCreator package:

/// A type that generates sloths.
public protocol SlothGenerator {
    /// Generates a sloth in the specified habitat.
    func generateSloth(in habitat: Habitat) throws -> Sloth
}

public extension Collection where Element == Habitat {
    /// Generates one ``Sloth`` per ``Habitat`` in the collection.
    ///
    /// - Note: Unfortunately, neither this comment nor the function itself is included in
    /// the documentation catalogue yet.
    func mapToSloth(using generator: SlothGenerator) throws -> [Sloth] {
        try self.map(generator.generateSloth(in:))
    }
}

/// A type that generates names for sloths.
public protocol NameGenerator {
    /// Generates a name for a sloth.
    ///
    /// - parameter seed: A value that influences randomness.
    func generateName(seed: Int) -> String
}

/// An array of strings conforms to ``NameGenerator``. Each time
/// ``generateName(seed:)`` is called, it returns the element identified
/// by the given seed.
extension Array: NameGenerator where Element == String {
    public func generateName(seed: Int) -> String {
        self[seed % self.count]
    }
}

Neither of the two extensions is added to the documentation catalogue. That is, both Collection/mapToSloth(using:) and Array/generateName(seed:) are not listed. Furthermore, they cannot be referenced using their identifiers and therefore it is also not possible to include them in the documentation catalogue using manual curation. Finally, Array (with Element == String) is also not listed among the Conforming Types of NameGenerator.

Motivation

Swift encourages us to use extensions on external types and therefore we should also be able to document such extensions accordingly. As I already mentioned, this capability has also been requested and discussed on the Swift forums before.

While there are possibly infinite use cases, I think that especially the growing ecosystem of SwiftUI packages could benefit hugely from this addition. A large part of their public API surface may be made up of view modifiers, which are usually exposed as function-extensions on SwiftUI's View type.

Proposed Solution

We assume a hosting environment which hosts all documentation catalogues relevant to our project at hostpath/MODULE_NAME. For example, the documentation page for SlothGenerator (in the SlothCreator module) would be located at hostpath/slothcreator/slothgenerator and the standard library's Array could be found at hostpath/swift/array.

New Documentation Pages

Extended modules are documented within the extending module's documentation catalogue, where all content that is added to an external module via extensions is prefixed with the extended module's name. That is, the base path for all external extended contents is hostpath/EXTENDING_MODULE_NAME/EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME. To be more precise, hostpath/EXTENDING_MODULE_NAME/EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME would host a page that lists all types belonging to EXTENDED_MODULE that were (publicly) extended in EXTENDING_MODULE. For each of these types there exists a page at hostpath/EXTENDING_MODULE_NAME/EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME/EXTENDED_TYPE_NAME, which lists all the members and e.g. default implementations added to this type in EXTENDING_MODULE. Of course, all of these also have their respective documentation pages at hostpath/EXTENDING_MODULE_NAME/EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME/EXTENDED_TYPE_NAME/MEMBER_NAME.

We'd get the following new pages for the SlothCreator example above:

  • hostpath/slothcreator/swift (extended module page)
  • hostpath/slothcreator/swift/collection (extended type page)
  • hostpath/slothcreator/swift/collection/maptosloth(using:) (added member page)
  • hostpath/slothcreator/swift/array (extended type page)
  • hostpath/slothcreator/swift/array/namegenerator-implementations (added default implementation page)
  • hostpath/slothcreator/swift/array/generatename(seed:) (added member page)

Page Contents

The following snippets describe the outline of the newly introduced pages with examples from the SlothCreator framework.

Extended Module Page
<!-- hostpath/slothcreator/swift -->

# ``Swift``

## Topics

### Extended Protocols

- ``Collection``

### Extended Structures

- ``Array``
Extended Type Page
<!-- hostpath/slothcreator/swift/array -->

Extended Structure
# ``Array``

[`Array`](hostpath/swift/array) was originally declared in the [Swift](hostpath/swift) Framework.

## Declaration

\```swift
extension Array
\```

## Topics

### Default Implementations

- [NameGenerator Implementations](hostpath/slothcreator/swift/array/namegenerator-implementations)

## Relationships

### Conforms To

- ``NameGenerator``

The Added Member Page and Added Default Implementation Page look and behave exactly as they do for normal (locally defined) symbols.

Modified Documentation Pages

This proposal also adds content to some existing pages:

Module Page

The module page is extended by a segment called "Extended Modules" listing all extended module pages.

<!-- hostpath/slothcreator -->

# Sloth Creator

## Topics

### Structures

...

### Protocols

...

### Extended Modules

- ``Swift``
- ...

Type Page

The structure of normal type pages is not altered, however, they may receive additional entries in their "Relationships" section, e.g. for NameGenerator:

<!-- hostpath/slothcreator/namegenerator -->

Protocol
# ``NameGenerator``

A type that generates names for sloths.

## Declaration

\```swift
protocol NameGenerator
\```

## Topics

### Instance Methods

- ``generateName(seed:)``

## Relationships

### Conforming Types

- ``Array``
    Conforms when `Element` is `String`.

Manual Curation

Manual curation is permitted via the usual methods, including the possibility to reference any of the newly introduced pages outside of their respective extended module path (e.g. outside of hostpath/slothcreator/swift).

Navigation Sidebar

The navigation sidebar essentially lists the same content as the module page. That is, the new section header (i.e. the one on the same level as e.g. "Structures") would be called "Extended Modules". This section only lists the extended module pages, not the extended symbol pages. This list's items can be expanded to reveal items for the extended type pages, which in turn can be expanded to reveal the member pages, just as with regular pages.

Resolving URL Collisions

There exists one possible collision with the proposed URL scheme for extended content: A module defines a type with the same name as one of its public dependencies (i.e. extended modules). This scenario should be very very rare. However, we still propose to resolve such conflicts by applying the standard disambiguation suffix strategy. The EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME would get the suffix -swift.module.extension.

For example if SlothCreator contained the following enum declaration:

public enum Swift {
    case foo
}

Then we would have urls hostpath/slothcreator/swift-swift.enum and hostpath/slothcreator/swift-swift.module.extension. These disambiguation suffixes remain in place even for members that could be referenced unambiguously without the suffixes. For example, we'd get hostpath/slothcreator/swift-swift.enum/foo and hostpath/slothcreator/swift-swift.module.extension/array/generatename(seed:).

Identifier Syntax

Identifiers used in DocC code are suffixes of the urls used above. References to any of the newly introduced pages (i.e. those that list content from extensions to external types) must always contain the EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME. I.e. even if there is no local type Array, just ``Array`` is no valid identifier for hostpath/slothcreator/swift/array. Instead, ``Swift/Array`` would be the correct syntax.

Once [SR-15431] Support DocC references to symbols defined in another module - Swift is implemented, we always follow a local first strategy. I.e. if a module shadows a symbol, the simple EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME/SYMBOL_PATH identifier links to the local page of the extension (hostpath/EXTENDING_MODULE_NAME/EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME/SYMBOL_PATH), not to the original page in the extended module's documentation catalogue (hostpath/EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME/SYMBOL_PATH).

In order to reference shadowed symbols, one must use absolute identifiers. Absolute identifiers are basically the URL without the leading hostpath. That is, shadowed symbols can be referenced unambiguously using /EXTENDED_MODULE_NAME/SYMBOL_PATH (note the leading slash).

Firstly, note that absolute identifiers are always an option, i.e. one could also refer to SlothCreator's NameGenerator in the Sloth Creator documentation catalogue using ``/SlothCreator/NameGenerator``.

Secondly, relative identifiers can be used for referencing external symbols, if they are not shadowed. That is, ``Swift/Array/count`` is a valid identifier in the SlothCreator module, even though there is no local extension that defines a count on Swift.Array.

Finally, identifiers use the same disambiguation syntax as the URL does. This applies to both, relative and absolute identifiers. In the edge-case where the -swift.module.extension suffix is required, usage of a relative path that includes a colliding name, but does not feature the disambiguation suffix is not permitted even if it does not collide in its entirety. (Usually, this identifier could link to a symbol in another documentation catalogue.) I.e. ``Swift/Array/count`` cannot be used in the example from "Resolving URL Collisions" in order to link to the Array.count definition in the standard library. Instead the absolute identifier ``/Swift/Array/count`` must be used.

5 Likes

Just to say: this looks excellent. I've hit this problem quite a bit, where you can only tell people that things exist, and it is quite frustrating.

The most important details for me (beyond just making these APIs visible), are the ability to reference APIs I add in extensions throughout the rest of the package documentation, and the ability to curate their topic placement, and I think this proposal does a really good job with all of those.

Relying on disambiguation suffixes means you can add a type, then all of your extensions change their URLs. It's better to avoid these things ever coming in to conflict, if possible. Why not namespace the extended module names inside a path component that is either a single rare or invalid identifier?

For example, "_": So instead of "hostpath/slothcreator/swift", we'd use "hostpath/slothcreator/_/swift".

(Or "_$", "_$_", or something better - you get the idea)

This is the case indeed. However, this only applies if this type happens to have the same name as one of your public dependencies - which is really rare I think. (Do you think there is a mayor use-case for this?) And even if you really need a type with such name a simple global replacement /MY_NAME => /MY_NAME-swift.module.extension should do the job.

The general idea was to optimize usability for the 99% of cases, while still supporting the 1% with a slightly downgraded experience. We want to have an intuitive syntax for DocC identifiers as well as URLs .

Furthermore, the way DocC currently works each path segment also results in an auto-generated page. With this additional overview-layer the extended modules section of the documentation catalogue would fit in worse into the sidebar and the documentation catalogue's overview page. In both these places you have sections such as "Structures" which list a series of items. With your proposed structure, the new section "Extended Modules" would only list one item: the overview page corresponding to the _ path segment.

4 Likes

I'm not sure if there could be a case for it - but developers like to get creative and push tools to their limits, so I wouldn't rule it out.

...but only if the cost is acceptable, of course; it's fine for tools to have limits. Given the points you raised about the identifiers matching the URLs, and the existing one-page-per-path-component design, I agree that it's not worth the complexity.

3 Likes

what about

/hostpath/swift/array?import=slothcreator

?

That is actually a quite creative idea! However, it introduces a completely different hierarchical structure. I further think that it doesn't really fit in with the existing DocC identifier syntax. Finally, I don't think URL query parameters would work well with static hosting.

documentation is inherently dynamic. designing around the requirements of static hosting limits a lot of things.

Would you like to elaborate on that? While I see that your suggested URL syntax implies a totally different structure, I don't really see what benefits it would have (that would outweigh static hosting). Do you see any mayor features that are incompatible with the current proposal and if so, could you present a vision of how they could be implemented following your approach?

for example, static hosting means no case-folding; try visiting:

https://apple.github.io/swift-markdown/documentation/markdown/Markup

This, however, is nothing that is incompatible with the current proposal, but with static hosting itself! You could easily use the proposed solution in a dynamic environment and implement case-folding there.