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Documentation dilemma solved

Category: progress

I have finished the build system, which also includes the previously discussed documentation dilemma. The problem was the presence of actual JavaScript files which Unity kept confusing for UnityScript files, because Unity keeps referring to UnityScript as JavaScript.

The build system

When you purchase Grid Framework from the Asset Store you get the full source code instead of a DLL, but I still have to package everything in a format that is suitable for distribution. First I need a new blank Unity project, then I import the assets to publish into the project, then I import the Asset Store tools and finally I upload it.

In the very early days I was doing it all by hand, but it goes without saying that it was a very tedious and error-prone process. Some way of automation was needed. Unity can be operated from the command line and since I'm a Unix programmer I was already familiar with Make.

The Make process is as follows:

  1. I have a Unity project where all the work happens, so I launch Unity in command-line mode and export all the relevant files as a Unity package.
  2. The documentation is build from the source and separately maintained manual pages.
  3. A new Unity project is created in command-line mode and the package is imported. Afterwards the previously built documentation is imported, followed by the Asset Store tools.

At this point I have a fresh Unity project ready for shipping. All this is executed by typing make publish in my shell. The only way to make this process even easier would be to bind this to a key in Vim, but I'm not that lazy ;)

The documentation dilemma

In version 1.x my solution to the documentation dilemma was to abuse the WebPlayerTemplates directory. UnityScript files in that directory will be ignored by the compiler, thus my JavaScript files were safe there. Of course this is not what that directory is for and some people did not like how I was taking over a directory they needed. The band-aid solution was to host the documentation online so people could delete their local copy.

I have now solved the problem in a way that will satisfy everyone. The trick is that JavaScript files do not actually have to end in .js, you just have to tell the browser what they are. If I was writing my own HTML and JavaScript this would be the end of the story, but I use Doxygen to generate it for me instead and Doxygen names JavaScript files such that they end in .js.

How can we fix this? We would have to rename every JavaScript file and then go through every single HTML and JavaScript file and change all references to JavaScript files accordingly. This whole process would have to be automated so we can carry it out right after generating the documentation.

One of the Unix philosophies is to have many small programs that carry out very specific and specialised tasks and then glue them together through scripting. We can perform all the above steps using a for loop, find, mv and sed.

First we need to find all the files we are looking for. The first time these are just JavaScript files and the second time around it's HTML and JavaScript files.

# Find all JavaScript files
find ./build/documentation/html/ -type f -name '*.js'

# Find all HTML and JavaScript files (JS files after being renamed)
find ./build/documentation/html/ -type f -name '*.js.txt' \
        -or -name '*.html'JavaScript files

These two lines would just list the files, but we don't want files names printed to the terminal, we want to loop over them. Wrapping a command in backticks replaces their content with the output of the command. Let's use the output in a for loop.

# I'm only showing the first one here
for f in `find ./build/documentation/html/ -type f -name '*.js'`; do

Inside the loop we can use the variable $f to reference the current file. The renaming process is very simple, we just append .txt to the file name; this way navtree.js becomes navtree.js.txt for example.

# The file extension doesn't really matter, but everyone knows what a text
# file is, so I might as well use that.
mv $f $f.txt

Now for the harder part: we have to go through the contents of all files and change any reference to a file ending in .js to the same, except with .txt appended. The program sed can do this; sed stands for Stream Editor and it can edit text files automatically based on commands passed to it.

# '-E' means using modern regex, '-i "" ' means in-place overwriting
sed -E -i "" 's/([_a-zA-Z0-9]*)\.js/\1.js.txt/' $f

sed finds the parts we want to replace using the regular expression ([_a-zA-Z0-9]*)\.js and then replaces the match with the file name followed by .js.txt using \1.js.txt (the \1 stands for the match of the braces, which is the file name in practice).

And that's essentially it. All that is left now is writing it on one line and escaping the dollar signs for Make. This solution makes it possible to include the full documentation working out of the box from any directory. Now all of Grid Framework can be placed in a single subdirectory of Plugins. Once version 2 gets published I will update version 1 to not use the old hack anymore.