I guess this is a follow-on from the last post. I generally want complete documentation, and I don't want to document the same thing twice. Thus I want to include all my manpages in the README. For projects hosted someplace like github the README serves as the front page of a project, so the README is the documentation that will be seen and read the most. I just set this up for yet another project, and I may as well talk about it here.

Demo case: mrgingham. This is a semi-released component that's the first in a set of calibration/SFM tools. The details aren't important for this post, but anybody interested in such things should talk to me.

This project has two user-facing tools that are distributed:

  • mrgingham: the main tool that ingests images, and spits out chessboard corners it found, as a vnlog. This is written in C++, and needs to be built. The documentation lives in a separate POD file. This POD isn't attached to the getopt() option parser; yet.
  • mrgingham-observe-pixel-uncertainty: a tool to empirically quantify the uncertainty of the output. This is written in python, and I make its manpage as described in the last post: first I make a POD, then convert the POD to a manpage.

The README exists as a template, with designated areas for the manpages. And all the action is in the Makefile. Relevant section:

DIST_BIN := mrgingham mrgingham-observe-pixel-uncertainty

# I construct the README.org from the template. The only thing I do is to insert
# the manpages. Note that this is more complicated than it looks:
# 1. The documentation lives in a POD
# 2. This documentation is stripped out here with pod2text, and included in the
#    README. This README is an org-mode file, and the README.template.org
#    container included the manpage text inside a #+BEGIN_EXAMPLE/#+END_EXAMPLE.
#    So the manpages are treated as a verbatim, unformatted text blob
# 3. Further down, the same POD is converted to a manpage via pod2man
define MAKE_README =
BEGIN                                                                   \
{                                                                       \
  for $$a (@ARGV)                                                       \
  {                                                                     \
    $$base = $$a =~ s/\.pod$$//r;                                       \
    $$c{$$base} = `pod2text $$a | mawk "/REPOSITORY/{exit} {print}"`;   \
  }                                                                     \
}                                                                       \
while(<STDIN>)                                                          \
{                                                                       \
  print s/xxx-manpage-(.*?)-xxx/$$c{$$1}/gr;                            \

README.org: README.template.org $(DIST_BIN:%=%.pod)
        < $(filter README%,$^) perl -e '$(MAKE_README)' $(filter-out README%,$^) > $@
all: README.org

%.1: %.pod
        pod2man --center="mrgingham: chessboard corner finder" --name=MRGINGHAM --release="mrgingham $(VERSION)" --section=1 $^ $@
mrgingham-observe-pixel-uncertainty.pod: %.pod: %
        ./make-pod.pl $< > $@
        cat footer.pod >> $@
EXTRA_CLEAN += *.1 mrgingham-observe-pixel-uncertainty.pod README.org

And that's it. I get a README.org that contains the manpages, and never goes out of date. For github to pick it up I need to commit it to the repo, even though it's a generated file. Probably can set up some sort of hook to take care of this too, but it's close-enough.