KDE Doxygen Tools


This framework contains scripts and data for building API documentation (dox) in a standard format and style.

https://api.kde.org holds the result, and this very page is handled by KApiDox too: https://api.kde.org/frameworks/kapidox/html/index.html.

The Doxygen tool performs the actual documentation extraction and formatting. This framework provides a wrapper script to make generating the documentation more convenient (including reading settings from the target framework or other module) and a standard template for the generated documentation.


Python 3 is required to run the scripts, as well as the jinja, pyyaml, requests, doxypypy and doxyqml python modules.

The following command creates a venv and installs the tool alongside all its modules:

bash ./bootstrap-devenv.sh

To generate the dependency diagrams, you need the Graphviz Python bindings. They are currently not available from pip, but most distributions provide them. You can get binaries and source archives from https://www.graphviz.org/download/.

(For maintainers) updating the package dependencies

Run ./requirements-update.sh in this folder, review and test the updated requirements file and commit the changed file.


This document describes two ways to use KApiDox to generate documentation for KDE software: the manual way, and the container way. Both can apply to standalone repositories or to projects built using kdesrc-build, but the main role of the manual method is mostly to learn how the tool works, whereas the container method should be the cleaner, more convenient way.

The manual way

With this method, we will be using three directories (kirigami, kapidox and kirigamidocs).

First, clone the desired repository as well as the KApiDox repository. In this example we will use Kirigami:

git clone https://invent.kde.org/frameworks/kirigami.git
git clone https://invent.kde.org/frameworks/kapidox.git

You may use the ssh:// version instead if you have a developer account.

You should now have a kirigami and a kapidox folder. Make a new folder to store the local test HTML documentation, then switch to the kapidox directory:

mkdir kirigamidocs
cd kapidox

Run the script provided by the KApiDox repository. This only needs to be done once, and it will download and install the needed Python3 modules and generate a proper Python virtual environment:

bash bootstrap-devenv.sh

After the script is done, you should have a hidden folder called .kapidox_venv/, inside of which is a bin/ folder containing the files we will be using.

If the shell you are using is bash or zsh, you can run source .kapidox_venv/bin/activate to activate the Python virtual venv. If you are using csh or fish, you may use source .kapidox_venv/bin/activate.csh or source .kapidox_venv/bin/activate.fish, respectively.

After activating the Python venv, your terminal prompt should change to that of a venv. Switch to the folder we created earlier and run kapidox-generate by pointing to the folder containing the target project repository (in this case, Kirigami):

cd ../kirigamidocs
kapidox-generate ../kirigami

It can take a while. After it is done, for convenience, do not close this venv shell yet.

You should have an index.html file which should be the entrypoint of the new documentation. You can open a new instance of your terminal or another tab, then open it directly from your terminal by using xdg-open index.html or kioclient exec index.html, or whichever other method you'd like.

After that, you may edit the Doxygen-formatted documentation in *.qml or *.h files using Kate or your favorite editor.

After you're finished editing, you can switch back to the venv in the kirigamidocs/ folder, check that you are in the correct folder with pwd, and run the following to regenerate the locally edited documentation:

pwd # Outputs e.g. ~/kirigamidocs
rm -rf * && kapidox-generate ../kirigami

Now that you understand how to generate the venv and how to use kapidox-generate, you can easily apply this knowledge to projects built using kdesrc-build. Assuming you're using bash:

kdesrc-build kapidox
// ...building...
kdesrc-build kirigami
// ...building...
mkdir ~/kirigamidocs
cd ~/kde/src/kapidox
bash bootstrap-devenv.sh
source .kapidox_venv/bin/activate
cd ~/kirigamidocs
kapidox-generate ~/kde/src/kirigami
// ...edit files...
rm -rf * && kapidox-generate ~/kde/src/kirigami

The container way

Although it is possible to use KApiDox directly, using it in a container can be much more convenient once it is set up.

You can build a new image with docker or podman:

docker build . -t kapidox_generate:latest
// OR
podman build . -t kapidox_generate:latest

By running docker images or podman images you should now see an image called localhost/kapidox_generate.

To run kapidox-generate with a project that you want to generate the docs from you need an empty folder for the results (/path/to/build/folder). The build directory inside the container is set as BUILD_DIR in Dockerfile, and must stay in sync with what is used as CONTAINER_BUILD_DIR in the volume mapping.

For this example we use libksane checked out to /path/to/libksane:

export HOST_PROJECT_SRC=/path/to/libksane/folder
export HOST_BUILD_DIR=/path/to/libksane/build/folder
export CONTAINER_PROJECT_SRC=/home/kapidox/libksane
export CONTAINER_BUILD_DIR=/home/kapidox/apidox-build
docker run \
kapidox_generate:latest \
kapidox-generate $CONTAINER_PROJECT_SRC

Writing documentation

Writing dox is beyond the scope of this documentation – see the notes at https://community.kde.org/Frameworks/Frameworks_Documentation_Policy and the doxygen manual.

To allow code to handle the case of being processed by kapidox a C/C++ preprocessor macro is set as defined when run: K_DOXYGEN (since v5.67.0). For backward-compatibility the definition DOXYGEN_SHOULD_SKIP_THIS is also set, but its usage is deprecated.

The kapidox scripts expects certain things to be present in the directory it is run on:


Most importantly, there should be a README.md file that works as the main page, like one where this documentation is written in (backward compatibility also authorize Mainpage.dox files). The first line of this file is particularly important, as it will be used as the title of the documentation.


A metainfo.yaml file is needed for the library to be generated. It should contain some meta information about the library itself, its maintainers, where the sources are, etc.

A very simple example can be:

# metainfo.yaml
description: Library doing X
maintainer: gwashington
public_lib: true
logo: libX.png

A comprehensive list of the available keys can be found on this page.

By default, the source of the public library must be in src, if the documentation refers to any dot files, these should be in docs/dot. Images should be in docs/pics, and snippets of example code should be in examples. See the Doxygen documentation for help on how to refer to these files from the dox comments in the source files.

If you need to override any Doxygen settings, put them in a docs/Doxyfile.local in your project. Global settings are defined in src/kapidox/data/Doxyfile.global.

Generating the documentation

The tool for generating dox is src/kapidox_generate. Change to an empty directory, then simply point it at the folder you want to generate dox for (such as a frameworks checkout).

For example, if you have a checkout of KCoreAddons at ~/kde/src/frameworks/kcoreaddons, you could run

~/kde/src/frameworks/kapidox/src/kapidox_generate ~/kde/src/frameworks/kcoreaddons

and it would create a documentation in the current directory, which needs to be empty before executing the command.

kapidox recursively walks through folders, so you can also run it on ~/kde/src/frameworks or ~/src. For a lot of libraries, the generation can last 15-30 minutes and use several hundreds of MB, so be prepared!

Pass the –help argument to see options that control the behaviour of the script.

Note that on Windows, you will need to run something like

c:\python\python.exe c:\frameworks\kapidox\src\kapidox_generate c:\frameworks\kcoreaddons

Specific to frameworks (for now)

You can ask kgenframeworksapidox to generate dependency diagrams for all the frameworks. To do so, you must first generate Graphviz .dot files for all frameworks with the depdiagram-prepare tool, like this:

mkdir dot
~/kde/src/frameworks/kapidox/src/depdiagram-prepare --all ~/kde/src/frameworks dot

Then call kgenframeworksapidox with the --depdiagram-dot-dir option, like this:

mkdir frameworks-apidocs
cd frameworks-apidocs
~/kde/src/frameworks/kapidox/src/kapidox_generate --depdiagram-dot-dir ../dot ~/kde/src/frameworks

More fine-grained tools are available for dependency diagrams. You can learn about them in depdiagrams.

Examples of generated pages:


This project is licensed under BSD-2-Clause. But the specific theme used inside KDE is licensed under AGPL-3.0-or-later. If you find the AGPL too restrictive you can alternatively use the theme from Docsy (APACHE-2.0). For that you need to replace the style and js script present in src/kapidox/data/templates/base.html.

If you need support or licensing clarification, feel free to contact the maintainers.