How to: Create an XML Documentation File Using CodeDOM

CodeDOM can be used to create code that generates XML documentation. The process involves creating the CodeDOM graph that contains the XML documentation comments, generating the code, and compiling the generated code with the compiler option that creates the XML documentation output.

To create a CodeDOM graph that contains XML documentation comments

  1. Create a CodeCompileUnit containing the CodeDOM graph for the sample application.

  2. Use the CodeCommentStatement constructor with the docComment parameter set to true to create the XML documentation comment elements and text.

    CodeTypeDeclaration class1 = new CodeTypeDeclaration("Class1");
    
    class1.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement("<summary>", true));
    class1.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement(
        "Create a Hello World application.", true));
    class1.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement(
        @"<seealso cref=" + '"' + "Class1.Main" + '"' + "/>", true));
    class1.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement("</summary>", true));
    
    // Add the new type to the namespace type collection.
    samples.Types.Add(class1);
    
    // Declare a new code entry point method.
    CodeEntryPointMethod start = new CodeEntryPointMethod();
    start.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement("<summary>", true));
    start.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement(
        "Main method for HelloWorld application.", true));
    start.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement(
        @"<para>Add a new paragraph to the description.</para>", true));
    start.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement("</summary>", true));
    
    Dim class1 As New CodeTypeDeclaration("Class1")
    
    class1.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement("<summary>", True))
    class1.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement( _
        "Create a Hello World application.", True))
    class1.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement( _
        "<seealso cref=" & ControlChars.Quote & "Class1.Main" & _
        ControlChars.Quote & "/>", True))
    class1.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement("</summary>", True))
    
    ' Add the new type to the namespace type collection.
    samples.Types.Add(class1)
    
    ' Declare a new code entry point method.
    Dim start As New CodeEntryPointMethod()
    start.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement("<summary>", True))
    start.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement( _
        "Main method for HelloWorld application.", True))
    start.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement( _
        "<para>Add a new paragraph to the description.</para>", True))
    start.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement("</summary>", True))
    

To generate the code from the CodeCompileUnit

  1. Use the GenerateCodeFromCompileUnit method to generate the code and create a source file to be compiled.

    StreamWriter sourceFile = new StreamWriter(sourceFileName);
    provider.GenerateCodeFromCompileUnit(cu, sourceFile, null);
    sourceFile.Close();
    
    
    Dim sourceFile As New StreamWriter(sourceFileName)
    
    LogMessage("Generating code...")
    provider.GenerateCodeFromCompileUnit(cu, sourceFile, Nothing)
    sourceFile.Close()
    

To compile the code and generate the documentation file

  1. Add the /doc compiler option to the CompilerOptions property of a CompilerParameters object and pass the object to the CompileAssemblyFromFile method to create the XML documentation file when the code is compiled.

    CompilerParameters opt = new CompilerParameters(new string[]{
                              "System.dll" });
    opt.GenerateExecutable = true;
    opt.OutputAssembly = "HelloWorld.exe";
    opt.TreatWarningsAsErrors = true;
    opt.IncludeDebugInformation = true;
    opt.GenerateInMemory = true;
    opt.CompilerOptions = "/doc:HelloWorldDoc.xml";
    
    CompilerResults results;
    
    LogMessage("Compiling with " + providerName);
    results = provider.CompileAssemblyFromFile(opt, sourceFileName);
    
    Dim opt As New CompilerParameters(New String() {"System.dll"})
    opt.GenerateExecutable = True
    opt.OutputAssembly = "HelloWorld.exe"
    opt.TreatWarningsAsErrors = True
    opt.IncludeDebugInformation = True
    opt.GenerateInMemory = True
    opt.CompilerOptions = "/doc"
    
    Dim results As CompilerResults
    
    LogMessage(("Compiling with " & providerName))
    results = provider.CompileAssemblyFromFile(opt, sourceFileName)
    

Example

The following code example creates a CodeDOM graph with documentation comments, generates a code file from the graph, and compiles the file and creates an associated XML documentation file.

using System;
using System.CodeDom;
using System.CodeDom.Compiler;
using System.IO;
using System.Text.RegularExpressions;

namespace BasicCodeDomApp
{
    class Program
    {
        static string providerName = "cs";
        static string sourceFileName = "test.cs";
        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            CodeDomProvider provider = 
                CodeDomProvider.CreateProvider(providerName);

            LogMessage("Building CodeDOM graph...");

            CodeCompileUnit cu = new CodeCompileUnit();

            cu = BuildHelloWorldGraph();

            StreamWriter sourceFile = new StreamWriter(sourceFileName);
            provider.GenerateCodeFromCompileUnit(cu, sourceFile, null);
            sourceFile.Close();

            CompilerParameters opt = new CompilerParameters(new string[]{
                                      "System.dll" });
            opt.GenerateExecutable = true;
            opt.OutputAssembly = "HelloWorld.exe";
            opt.TreatWarningsAsErrors = true;
            opt.IncludeDebugInformation = true;
            opt.GenerateInMemory = true;
            opt.CompilerOptions = "/doc:HelloWorldDoc.xml";

            CompilerResults results;

            LogMessage("Compiling with " + providerName);
            results = provider.CompileAssemblyFromFile(opt, sourceFileName);

            OutputResults(results);
            if (results.NativeCompilerReturnValue != 0)
            {
                LogMessage("");
                LogMessage("Compilation failed.");
            }
            else
            {
                LogMessage("");
                LogMessage("Demo completed successfully.");
            }
            File.Delete(sourceFileName);
        }

        // Build a Hello World program graph using 
        // System.CodeDom types.
        public static CodeCompileUnit BuildHelloWorldGraph()
        {
            // Create a new CodeCompileUnit to contain 
            // the program graph.
            CodeCompileUnit compileUnit = new CodeCompileUnit();

            // Declare a new namespace called Samples.
            CodeNamespace samples = new CodeNamespace("Samples");
            // Add the new namespace to the compile unit.
            compileUnit.Namespaces.Add(samples);

            // Add the new namespace import for the System namespace.
            samples.Imports.Add(new CodeNamespaceImport("System"));

            // Declare a new type called Class1.
            CodeTypeDeclaration class1 = new CodeTypeDeclaration("Class1");

            class1.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement("<summary>", true));
            class1.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement(
                "Create a Hello World application.", true));
            class1.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement(
                @"<seealso cref=" + '"' + "Class1.Main" + '"' + "/>", true));
            class1.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement("</summary>", true));

            // Add the new type to the namespace type collection.
            samples.Types.Add(class1);

            // Declare a new code entry point method.
            CodeEntryPointMethod start = new CodeEntryPointMethod();
            start.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement("<summary>", true));
            start.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement(
                "Main method for HelloWorld application.", true));
            start.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement(
                @"<para>Add a new paragraph to the description.</para>", true));
            start.Comments.Add(new CodeCommentStatement("</summary>", true));

            // Create a type reference for the System.Console class.
            CodeTypeReferenceExpression csSystemConsoleType = 
                new CodeTypeReferenceExpression("System.Console");

            // Build a Console.WriteLine statement.
            CodeMethodInvokeExpression cs1 = new CodeMethodInvokeExpression(
                csSystemConsoleType, "WriteLine",
                new CodePrimitiveExpression("Hello World!"));

            // Add the WriteLine call to the statement collection.
            start.Statements.Add(cs1);

            // Build another Console.WriteLine statement.
            CodeMethodInvokeExpression cs2 = new CodeMethodInvokeExpression(
                csSystemConsoleType, "WriteLine", new CodePrimitiveExpression(
                "Press the ENTER key to continue."));

            // Add the WriteLine call to the statement collection.
            start.Statements.Add(cs2);

            // Build a call to System.Console.ReadLine.
            CodeMethodInvokeExpression csReadLine = 
                new CodeMethodInvokeExpression(csSystemConsoleType, "ReadLine");

            // Add the ReadLine statement.
            start.Statements.Add(csReadLine);

            // Add the code entry point method to
            // the Members collection of the type.
            class1.Members.Add(start);

            return compileUnit;
        }
        static void LogMessage(string text)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(text);
        }

        static void OutputResults(CompilerResults results)
        {
            LogMessage("NativeCompilerReturnValue=" +
                results.NativeCompilerReturnValue.ToString());
            foreach (string s in results.Output)
            {
                LogMessage(s);
            }
        }
    }
}
Imports System
Imports System.CodeDom
Imports System.CodeDom.Compiler
Imports System.IO
Imports System.Text.RegularExpressions



Class Program
    Private Shared providerName As String = "vb"
    Private Shared sourceFileName As String = "test.vb"

    Shared Sub Main(ByVal args() As String)
        Dim provider As CodeDomProvider = _
            CodeDomProvider.CreateProvider(providerName)

        LogMessage("Building CodeDOM graph...")

        Dim cu As New CodeCompileUnit()

        cu = BuildHelloWorldGraph()


        Dim sourceFile As New StreamWriter(sourceFileName)

        LogMessage("Generating code...")
        provider.GenerateCodeFromCompileUnit(cu, sourceFile, Nothing)
        sourceFile.Close()

        Dim opt As New CompilerParameters(New String() {"System.dll"})
        opt.GenerateExecutable = True
        opt.OutputAssembly = "HelloWorld.exe"
        opt.TreatWarningsAsErrors = True
        opt.IncludeDebugInformation = True
        opt.GenerateInMemory = True
        opt.CompilerOptions = "/doc"

        Dim results As CompilerResults

        LogMessage(("Compiling with " & providerName))
        results = provider.CompileAssemblyFromFile(opt, sourceFileName)

        OutputResults(results)
        If results.NativeCompilerReturnValue <> 0 Then
            LogMessage("")
            LogMessage("Compilation failed.")
        Else
            LogMessage("")
            LogMessage("Demo completed successfully.")
        End If
        File.Delete(sourceFileName)

    End Sub 'Main


    ' Build a Hello World program graph using 
    ' System.CodeDom types.
    Public Shared Function BuildHelloWorldGraph() As CodeCompileUnit
        ' Create a new CodeCompileUnit to contain 
        ' the program graph.
        Dim compileUnit As New CodeCompileUnit()

        ' Declare a new namespace called Samples.
        Dim samples As New CodeNamespace("Samples")
        ' Add the new namespace to the compile unit.
        compileUnit.Namespaces.Add(samples)

        ' Add the new namespace import for the System namespace.
        samples.Imports.Add(New CodeNamespaceImport("System"))

        ' Declare a new type called Class1.
        Dim class1 As New CodeTypeDeclaration("Class1")

        class1.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement("<summary>", True))
        class1.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement( _
            "Create a Hello World application.", True))
        class1.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement( _
            "<seealso cref=" & ControlChars.Quote & "Class1.Main" & _
            ControlChars.Quote & "/>", True))
        class1.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement("</summary>", True))

        ' Add the new type to the namespace type collection.
        samples.Types.Add(class1)

        ' Declare a new code entry point method.
        Dim start As New CodeEntryPointMethod()
        start.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement("<summary>", True))
        start.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement( _
            "Main method for HelloWorld application.", True))
        start.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement( _
            "<para>Add a new paragraph to the description.</para>", True))
        start.Comments.Add(New CodeCommentStatement("</summary>", True))
        ' Create a type reference for the System.Console class.
        Dim csSystemConsoleType As New CodeTypeReferenceExpression( _
            "System.Console")

        ' Build a Console.WriteLine statement.
        Dim cs1 As New CodeMethodInvokeExpression(csSystemConsoleType, _
            "WriteLine", New CodePrimitiveExpression("Hello World!"))

        ' Add the WriteLine call to the statement collection.
        start.Statements.Add(cs1)

        ' Build another Console.WriteLine statement.
        Dim cs2 As New CodeMethodInvokeExpression(csSystemConsoleType, _
            "WriteLine", New CodePrimitiveExpression( _
            "Press the ENTER key to continue."))

        ' Add the WriteLine call to the statement collection.
        start.Statements.Add(cs2)

        ' Build a call to System.Console.ReadLine.
        Dim csReadLine As New CodeMethodInvokeExpression( _
            csSystemConsoleType, "ReadLine")

        ' Add the ReadLine statement.
        start.Statements.Add(csReadLine)

        ' Add the code entry point method to
        ' the Members collection of the type.
        class1.Members.Add(start)

        Return compileUnit

    End Function 'BuildHelloWorldGraph

    Shared Sub LogMessage(ByVal [text] As String)
        Console.WriteLine([text])

    End Sub 'LogMessage


    Shared Sub OutputResults(ByVal results As CompilerResults)
        LogMessage(("NativeCompilerReturnValue=" & _
            results.NativeCompilerReturnValue.ToString()))
        Dim s As String
        For Each s In results.Output
            LogMessage(s)
        Next s

    End Sub 'OutputResults
End Class 'Program

The code example creates the following XML documentation in the HelloWorldDoc.xml file.

<?xml version="1.0" ?>   
<doc>  
  <assembly>  
    <name>HelloWorld</name>   
  </assembly>  
  <members>  
    <member name="T:Samples.Class1">  
      <summary>  
        Create a Hello World application.   
        <seealso cref="M:Samples.Class1.Main" />   
      </summary>  
    </member>  
    <member name="M:Samples.Class1.Main">  
      <summary>  
        Main method for HelloWorld application.   
        <para>Add a new paragraph to the description.</para>   
      </summary>  
    </member>  
  </members>  
</doc>  

Compiling the Code

  • This code example requires the FullTrust permission set to execute successfully.

See Also

Documenting Your Code with XML
XML Documentation Comments
XML Documentation