DocC Tutorial for Swift: Automating Publishing With GitHub Actions

Within the software program improvement routine, it’s widespread to carry out repetitive duties manually. However this comes with a worth: It’s each tedious and error-prone. Luckily, the trade has developed options that tackle the necessity to automate the repetitive processes a developer or a staff should carry out.

In a earlier tutorial, Mina H. Gerges walked by utilizing DocC and Xcode to generate documentation for an app and a Swift bundle after which export them within the DocC archive format.

On this follow-up tutorial, you’ll discover ways to automate exporting a DocC archive file utilizing DocC on GitHub Actions after which publish it on the web utilizing GitHub Pages as a static web site host.

Alongside the best way, you’ll be taught:

  • Methods to generate the documentation within the DocC utilizing Xcode and the command line.
  • Methods to configure a GitHub repo to host the generated documentation.
  • Methods to arrange GitHub Actions to regenerate and republish the documentation if you push modifications to the repo.
Observe: This tutorial assumes you’ve gotten a fundamental notion of how Git and GitHub work. To be taught extra about it, try Open-Supply Collaboration Utilizing Git and GitHub.

You’ll construct documentation for a bundle that requires SwiftUI and the iOS SDK. For that purpose, this tutorial makes use of DocC integration inside Xcode, which requires a Mac host. In the event you’re keen to doc a pure Swift bundle that may be constructed on Linux, you may use the Swift-DocC plugin instantly, as explained in this page. Moreover that distinction, you may nonetheless comply with alongside to grasp how GitHub Actions works.

Getting Began

Begin by clicking Obtain supplies on the high or backside of this tutorial. Open GivenWithLove.xcworkspace within the Starter listing in Xcode.

You’ll discover the workspace accommodates the app in addition to a Swift bundle. For each, Xcode can construct the documentation. Whereas this tutorial is about calling DocC through command line, you should use the Xcode UI to construct the documentation. To take action, choose any simulator as a run vacation spot moderately than a tool or Any iOS System. Then, open the Product menu, and choose Construct Documentation.

After a number of seconds, Xcode builds the documentation after which routinely opens it within the Developer Documentation window.

On this tutorial, you’ll discover ways to execute this similar Motion from the command line, export it to HTML and host it utilizing GitHub Pages — all powered by GitHub Actions. However earlier than beginning and getting your palms on the keyboard, right here’s a fast overview of what CI/CD and GitHub Actions imply.

Understanding CI/CD and GitHub Actions

In the event you work with cell or internet improvement, there’s probability you’re conversant in the phrases steady integration (CI), steady supply (CD) and GitHub Actions. In the event that they’re new to you, no worries: You’re in the appropriate place!

What Is CI/CD?

When including new options or fixing bugs, it’s good to check your new code and confirm you didn’t break the rest. Otherwise you may work on an SDK and must publish the up to date documentation. However doing it manually — time and again — is much from very best. To resolve this subject, and to scale back human error, observe is automating these duties.

Steady integration is the automation of constructing and testing code at any time when the model management system, equivalent to Git, detects new modifications. Normally, utilizing webhooks, the Git distant repository updates the CI system concerning the modifications. For instance, when the principle department has a brand new commit, when somebody creates a pull request or when a brand new tag is out there, it updates the CI, which, in flip, runs particular workflows relying on the set off.

One other time period that often seems alongside CI is CD, which stands for “steady supply”. Moreover compiling and operating exams on the brand new code, builders typically wish to preview their modifications with out performing guide operations. A CD system (no, not these outdated sound methods from the ’90s) addresses this want by deploying a preview web site or a beta app, and even absolutely releasing an app or an internet site.

Git operation update the CI, which tests or builds the code

Normally, CI/CD runs on a distant, hosted laptop, with the target of offloading time and assets from a developer’s machine, along with the round the clock availability.

Meet GitHub Actions

Though Git and CI/CD aren’t interchangeable ideas, they’re basically intertwined. By definition, CI/CD will need to have entry to the supply code and be alert for the occasions talked about above. Due to the pure relationship between these instruments, in 2018, GitHub launched its personal workflow automation instrument. By offering each Git and CI/CD, GitHub can centralize them in a single place, permitting for a sooner, seamless developer expertise.

A repository on GitHub may include a number of workflows, every with a unique purpose. As an example, one workflow runs exams whereas one other builds and uploads a brand new app model. They run based mostly on triggered occasions: The exams’ workflow can run when there’s a brand new pull request, and the deploy workflow can begin as soon as a brand new Git tag is pushed. The workflow itself accommodates one or a number of jobs, which in flip encompass a number of steps.

A step could be a common terminal command, equivalent to operating Swift, NodeJS or every other CLI instruments and binaries. However to make its CI much more highly effective, GitHub permits builders to create their very own constructing blocks and share them with the open-source group. These constructing blocks are known as actions, and your workflows can use these steps in addition to operating one-off script instructions. Right here’s the place GitHub’s platform makes a distinction, and the GitHub Marketplace page lets you seek for actions which may suit your wants.

Runners are one other essential element of GitHub Actions. A runner is a server hosted by GitHub that executes a job of a workflow. Upon execution of a job, a recent, clear digital machine is created, operating the platform of your selection: Linux, Home windows or macOS.

Basic components of GitHub Actions

The Workflow YAML File

GitHub Actions permits a number of workflows per repository, and every workflow describes its jobs and their steps utilizing a YAML file. In the event you aren’t conversant in the syntax, YAML is a knowledge serialization language extensively adopted within the trade, largely for describing configuration recordsdata. Right here’s a brief instance of the way it works:

# Key-value pairs are separated by a colon and an area
title: Jane Appleseed
age: 30
metropolis: Cupertino

# Maps/Dictionaries use indentation to point out nested key-value pairs
  road: 19400 Homestead Highway
  metropolis: Cupertino
  state: CA
  zip: 95014

# Arrays are denoted by a hyphen and an area, and may include any kind of knowledge, together with nested dictionaries or arrays
  - apple
  - orange
  - banana

As some individuals discover the syntax complicated, you may go to Learn YAML in Y minutes if you wish to be taught extra or have additional doubts. On-line linter instruments, equivalent to YAML Lint, are additionally precious when validating a YAML file.

One should place all workflow recordsdata within the .github/workflows listing of a repository. A later part will instruct you on find out how to configure a workflow file for this tutorial’s goal, however listed here are a number of the most essential and frequent properties:

  • title: The title GitHub shows for actions that ran a workflow below the “Actions” tab. It’s non-obligatory, defaulting to the workflow file title.
  • on: A listing of occasions that set off a workflow, equivalent to pushes, new pull requests, webhooks and lots of extra. You possibly can see the total record of occasions in this link.
  • jobs: A workflow consists of a number of jobs. Though they run in parallel, a job can have a dependency on one other job, which means it waits for an additional’s completion earlier than beginning.
  • runs-on: Each job in a workflow can run in a unique runner. The job should declare which working system and machine to run on. A number of the choices are macos-latest, macos-13, ubuntu-latest, ubuntu-18.04 and every other runner picture current in this list.

The complete record of choices and parameters is out there within the Workflow syntax for GitHub Actions web page.

Constructing the Documentation Domestically

Earlier than shifting straight to GitHub Actions, you must confirm you could construct the documentation regionally. To attain that — and to organize the subsequent steps of the automation — you’ll create a bash script to consolidate the instructions.

Creating the Script

First, open Terminal within the root listing of the pattern mission to create the script file. Enter the next command:


This creates a file named Earlier than enhancing it, make the script executable by including the suitable permission to the file so you may run it later:

chmod +x

Now, open it together with your textual content editor of selection, and add the next command:


xcrun xcodebuild docbuild 
    -scheme GivenWithLove 
    -destination 'generic/platform=iOS Simulator' 
    -derivedDataPath "$PWD/.derivedData"

Though it’s unfold throughout 4 traces, it is a single command. Right here’s what it does:

  1. xcrun is a instrument that permits interplay with Xcode through command line, and xcodebuild is the a part of it answerable for constructing Xcode tasks. docbuild is the subcommand that builds the documentation for a given goal.
  2. Select the scheme you wish to construct documentation for. On this case, it’s the GivenWithLove app.
  3. Each the app and bundle have been constructed for iOS and import SwiftUI, so set the vacation spot to iOS. Some xcodebuild actions don’t require a particular machine or simulator to run on, so prefix the vacation spot with generic/. And since you don’t wish to cope with code signing, select iOS Simulator as a substitute of an precise machine.
  4. By default, xcodebuild generates its merchandise and locations them within the default derived knowledge folder. Since you’ll want to search out the documentation it generates, use a customized derived knowledge location, with a identified path, for straightforward entry.

Operating the Script Domestically

Now, it’s time to make use of the script and generate the documentation regionally. Again in Terminal, run the next command:


After a number of moments, the command ought to succeed. As soon as the xcodebuild output ends its explosion of characters, you’re able to discover the generated documentation.

To seek out the DocC archives, open the .derivedData folder. As a result of it’s a hidden folder, you may not see it instantly in Finder. To show hidden recordsdata and directories, press Command-Shift-.. As soon as you discover it, open it and go to the Construct folder, adopted by the Merchandise and the Debug-iphonesimulator directories. There, you’ll discover the GivenWithLove.doccarchive file. In the event you can’t discover the hidden folder or wish to bounce proper into the ultimate listing, run the next command:

open .derivedData/Construct/Merchandise/Debug-iphonesimulator

That is what you’ll see in that folder:

The fresh Docc archive

Double-click GivenWithLove.doccarchive, and Xcode will open the Developer Documentation window once more. Discover how Xcode now shows it below the Imported Documentation part, as xcrun constructed it:

Xcode displaying the documentation created via command line

Congrats! You simply generated your bundle’s documentation utterly through Terminal instructions — with out interacting with the Xcode UI. Within the upcoming sections, you’ll discover ways to generate the identical recordsdata on GitHub Actions, remodel them right into a website-compatible format and publish them to GitHub Pages.

Changing the Documentation to HTML

Whereas it’s attainable to view the DocC archive on a Mac, it’s nonetheless not the perfect format for publishing on the net. For that, Apple has added a command to docc that converts a .doccarchive enter right into a listing. This listing will include all the mandatory recordsdata for publishing the documentation as a static web site.

Open the file, and add the next traces after the present command:

xcrun docc process-archive transform-for-static-hosting 
    --output-path ".docs" 
    --hosting-base-path "" # add your repo title later

By operating this command, you’ll inform docc the place to search out the enter archive and the place it ought to place the output recordsdata: in a folder named .docs. After creating your repository on GitHub, you’ll must set the hosting-base-path argument, however you may go away it empty for now. Run the script once more to examine the outcome:


After this command finishes, navigate to the .docs folder to see its contents:

open .docs

Observe: To view the documentation regionally, you’ll must run a neighborhood server to host the web site. As operating a neighborhood server isn’t within the scope of this tutorial and likewise isn’t important to it, it’s solely briefly talked about. You probably have Python 3 put in, you may run the command python3 -m http.server -d .docs. In case your macOS doesn’t have Python, you may set up it with homebrew — brew set up python3 — first. After you have the native server operating, the documentation will probably be seen at http://localhost:8000/documentation/givenwithlove/.

Redirecting to the Documentation Web page

In the event you have been in a position to serve the docs regionally, you may be questioning why the basis web page shows an error. It is because DocC organizes the recordsdata for static internet hosting within the following construction:

The documentation in a format that can be statically served on the web

As you may see, the givenwithlove listing is positioned below documentation. To view the documentation of an app or bundle, the tackle must be within the sample as a substitute of accessing the basis web page ( Accessing the basis web page ends in an error.

To assist your readers, you may exchange the .docs/index.html file with a redirect, and the browser will lead them on to the proper path.

Open the file once more, and in a brand new line, add the next:

echo '<script>window.location.href += "/documentation/givenwithlove"</script>' > .docs/index.html

This can redirect the basis web page to the documentation. Rerun, restart your native server, and if you go to http://localhost:8000/, you’ll be redirected to the documentation web page.

Now, it’s time to maneuver on and get your palms on GitHub!

Setting Up GitHub Pages

Thus far, you’ve realized find out how to generate the .doccarchive file and convert it right into a format appropriate for static internet hosting. The subsequent step is defining the workflow file for operating the identical script you ran regionally and publishing the content material to GitHub Pages.

GitHub Pages is one other service — you guessed proper, from GitHub — that permits builders to host static web site content material for a private profile or particular tasks. It even permits customized domains with HTTPS help!

Activating GitHub Pages in Your Repository

Create an empty repository on GitHub for this tutorial. GitHub Pages solely works with non-public repos when you’re on the Professional plan. In any other case, if in case you have a free GitHub account, ensure you create a public repository. To make pushing your commits smoother, don’t embrace a Readme or a .gitignore file.

In your browser, open your new repository, and go to the Settings tab. Within the left pane, below the Code and automation part, click on Pages. Within the Construct and deployment part, click on the Supply menu, and select GitHub Actions. There are two methods of deploying to GitHub Pages, and though nonetheless in beta, publishing to Pages through Actions is the best way GitHub recommends (as a substitute of pushing to a particular department).

The GitHub Pages section in the repository settings

The GitHub Pages URL Format

GitHub Pages can host two varieties of pages: private and tasks. Private pages are supposed to be your “dwelling” on the net, whereas mission pages might be an open-source mission’s showcase.

Whereas private pages should belong to a repository named <username>, and the web page is accessible at, mission pages work barely otherwise. The repository can have any title, and customers can discover it at<repository-name>.

To take that into consideration, the export command can obtain a base path and modify the routes accordingly. Open — for the final time immediately — the construct script at Within the second command, the place you see the remark, set your repository title within the already current, however empty, hosting-base-path argument:

--hosting-base-path "<your-repository-name>"

This makes your documentation conscious of the relative location during which it’s positioned on the web site when DocC transforms the documentation for publishing.

Shifting ahead, it’s time to arrange your workflow.

Configuring GitHub Actions

All of the GitHub Actions configuration you’ll want takes place within the workflow file, so there’s no want to alter the Actions settings. All workflow recordsdata should reside below the .github/workflows listing. To create one, run the next command:

mkdir -p .github/workflows

Now, create the YAML file you’ll use to outline your workflow:

contact .github/workflows/docc.yml

Defining the Workflow File

Open the file you simply created together with your textual content editor. Copy the traces under and paste them into this new file. Be certain your textual content editor retains the house indentation as a substitute of changing them with tabs. YAML depends on the areas and the indentation to validate the content material and its construction.

title: docc

    branches: [main]

  pages: write
  id-token: write
  contents: learn

Right here’s what this file describes thus far:

  1. The title of this workflow.
  2. The occasions that can set off operating this workflow. The push set off will work when new commits are pushed to the principle department. Including workflow_dispatch permits manually triggering the workflow from the GitHub Actions UI.
  3. Set permissions for the GitHub token operating the Motion to permit deployment to GitHub Pages, and skim permissions for testing the repository content material.

A workflow accommodates a number of jobs. The primary stage of the workflow is operating the script you ready above. To configure the job to take action, add the next code:

    runs-on: macos-12
      - title: Checkout Repository
        makes use of: actions/checkout@v3
          fetch-depth: 0
      - title: Run Construct Docs
        run: ./
      - title: Setup Pages
        id: pages
        makes use of: actions/configure-pages@v3
      - title: Add artifact
        makes use of: actions/upload-pages-artifact@v1
          path: .docs

It may be loads, however breaking it down piece by piece makes it simpler to grasp:

  1. Declare the roles map, and begin with the construct job.
  2. As a result of the script depends on xcrun and Xcode, you’ll want a macOS runner. When utilizing DocC as a Swift bundle plugin, you should use a Linux machine as a substitute.
  3. A number of steps make up a job. Declare the record of steps, and begin by testing the repository taking solely the final commit. Subsequently, the fetch-depth possibility is ready to 0.
  4. After testing the repository, run the script.
  5. Use the actions that GitHub offers: one for configuring pages and one other for importing the contents that the script will generate and place below .docs. Discover how this is similar listing you set within the final line.

You’re nearly completed! Now, it’s good to outline a job to deploy what the construct job generated.

Publishing to GitHub Pages through Actions

Nonetheless within the docc.yml file, add the traces under. Take note of the truth that the deploy key ought to have the identical indentation because the construct key from the earlier snippet.

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    wants: construct
      - title: Deploy to GitHub Pages
        id: deployment
        makes use of: actions/deploy-pages@v2 
      title: github-pages
      url: ${{ steps.deployment.outputs.page_url }}

Right here’s what these traces imply:

  1. Outline the deploy job.
  2. As a result of Xcode isn’t vital anymore, you may select a Linux runner.
  3. The earlier job, construct, created and uploaded the artifacts. So, add a dependency on that job, which means that this one will solely run when the primary has completed.
  4. Declare a single step for this job based mostly on the official actions/deploy-pages Motion. Set the atmosphere variables it requires.

It’s lastly time to check all of it!

Operating the Workflow on GitHub Actions

In the event you haven’t but created your repository regionally, run:

git init

As it is a new repository, all of your modifications are file additions. After staging them, create an preliminary commit. Then, add the GitHub distant. Change your username and the repository title earlier than operating this command:

git distant add origin<your-username>/<your-repository-name>.git

Create the principle department, and push your modifications:

git department -M foremost && git push -u origin foremost

After pushing it to GitHub, open your repository web page, and go to the Actions tab. Within the record, you’ll see the Motion you simply created, inside a number of moments, within the queued state.

In some circumstances, the Motion may get caught within the queued state. If that’s the case, you’ve already outlined the workflow_dispatch occasion within the workflow, which permits manually triggering the Motion.

A GitHub workflow in the queued state, waiting to be started.

After shifting from the queued to the operating state, click on the workflow run within the record to see extra particulars:

A GitHub workflow while it's running

Discover how, within the picture above, there’s a line between the construct and deploy. It represents the dependency of the deploy job on the construct job.

After a couple of minutes, each jobs must be full:

A GitHub Action after all jobs completed successfully

As you may see, each jobs have inexperienced examine marks, making the run itself a profitable one. Below deploy, you’ll see a hyperlink. Clicking it is going to take you to https://<your-username><repository-name>, and the browser will show the documentation you labored so exhausting to publish:

The app documentation is live on GitHub Pages!

The place to Go From Right here?

You possibly can obtain the finished mission recordsdata by clicking Obtain supplies on the high or backside of the tutorial.

Congratulations on reaching the top of this tutorial! It included many steps: writing a shell script, making a repository, enabling GitHub Pages on it, defining your workflow file and operating it. In the event you made it right here, it means you realized and bought new expertise.

In the event you already really feel the superpowers of automating your processes, you may wish to broaden your data within the CI/CD house, deepen your experience in GitHub Actions, and likewise in applied sciences or providers that host static content material and make its distribution even sooner with content material supply networks (CDNs). Right here’s what you may do subsequent:

  • Wrap your often used steps right into a shareable Motion of your personal.
  • Connect with the net: Automate calling your workflows through webhooks and likewise name exterior webhooks out of your workflow steps.
  • Automate technology of Swift code that compiles on Linux, utilizing the DocC Swift Bundle Supervisor plugin, as a substitute of counting on Xcode and macOS. By doing so, you don’t want to make use of the macOS runners. The Linux runners will probably be sufficient, which is a constructive issue since they eat fewer credit than the macOS ones.
  • Publish your documentation to different providers, equivalent to Netlify, which offers a CDN on high of internet hosting.

We hope you loved this tutorial, and if in case you have any questions or feedback, please be a part of the discussion board dialogue under!

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button