Making the Wordpress source code something you'd want to read

If you develop with Wordpress at all, you're likely to spend a fair chunk of your time wading through source code, and poring over the Wordpress Codex when something isn't working the way you expected, or when you're coding new features.

If you're working with Ruby and (assuming the projects you're working on has some documentation in the first place), tools like RailsAPI or have made browsing source code, and getting an idea of how various classes or objects make up project a fairly simple process now.

Thing is, moving from there to Drupal, with its insistence on not having any useful examples in its documentation, or Wordpress, where the surrounding Codex docs are great, but where the source code less as easy to browse, has always felt clunky by comparison.

Thankfully, Harry and Tom at the Dextrous Web have worked out a clever hack that makes using the docs on Wordpress's just as nice an experience as it is on a normal ruby project, by passing all source code through Doxygen, then passing that through the same all singing, all dancing , autocompletin' sdoc templates as used on RailsAPI, giving us all the slickness we'd come to associate with a well written Ruby project, but on a workhorse platform like Wordpress.

Here's how to to get your own browsable docs like these, local to your machine for speedy offline reference.

Install Doxygen

Doxygen is a tool you can use to generate actual documentation the comments in Wordpress's existing code base. If you're on a mac, and using macports, you can install it like so (you may need to sudo install these, depending on how your system is set up):

# if you're on a mac...
port install Doxygen #if you're using macports
port install Doxygen #if you're using homebrew

# or if you're using linux ...
yum install Doxygen #if you're using a CentoOS/Redhat 
apt-get install Doxygen #if you're using a Debian/Ubuntu 

Fetch the Wordpress source code.

We need to pull down this code so when we call the next step we have everything we need to create the documentation, then pass it through sdoc to create the docs.

git clone git://
cd wordpressapi
gem install wpdoc
git clone git://
git clone git://[Wordpress][].git
ln -s wordpress/wp-includes
ruby update_codex.rb

Generate your own docs

This step takes a long time (as in more than half an hour on my black new macbook) , and uses a fair old chunk of CPU power too, so don't be alarmed if this seems to take longer than you're used to.

ruby doxydoc.rb

Bookmark the document index page

The docs you're after will be created in the docs/ directory in the wordpressapi project; you'll find the index page at docs/ , presenting a page of all the classes that make up Wordpress, with an autocomplete listing of every class, method and file used in the project, with links to the source code on, locally, and where relevant, to the [Wordpress Codex][3].

Browse the source

Have a quick browse - you also have keyboard shortcuts for navigating around the code, you'll I guarantee that the easier access to the source code will help you learn something new about using Wordpress, without even trying, and be navigating through the the guts of the Wordpress source like a pro in no time.

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