[erlang-questions] Accessing the documentation at runtime

Joe Armstrong <>
Wed Sep 28 21:44:21 CEST 2016

Regarding an API

It is not a coincidence that the HTML documentation for (say
lists.erl) can be obtained by fetching the page

How about a REST interface to extract the parts of the documentation?

For example

 would fetch the lists.xml (the documentation)

(the code)

would fetch the documentation for lists:append/2 etc.

If we *standardise* the interface then writing tools to present this in
different ways should possible



On Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 8:28 PM, Vlad Dumitrescu <> wrote:
> Hi,
> Following the documentation discussion, and the details about how Elixir
> supports that as API, I wonder if we could (should?) support something
> similar for Erlang.
> My suggestion for the data to store is the xml source, parsed with xmerl
> into simple-form. For non-otp modules, there is an edoclet that can produce
> opt-like xml from edoc. I don't know what format elixir uses, but for
> consuming the OTP docs this feels the easiest.
> One way is to add an optional chunk to the beam files, storing the docs. A
> new compiler option would select that, similar to 'debug'. This would
> increase the size of the files significantly and possibly only few people
> will add the docs, resulting in an useless chunk, but if it gets used then
> all data is readily available.
> An alternative would be to deliver archives with the docs in separate files
> (a zip in myapp/doc?).
> What is needed then is an API to access that, "code:get_doc(Module|App)"
> feels like it would be enough.
> Thoughts?
> best regards,
> Vlad
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