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Slate: Static API Documentation Generator

I came across slate tool when I was looking for API documentation generator for our webservice API.

slate screenshot

I am the big fan of Markdown and I was looking for a tool like this for writing a documentation.

Getting Started with Slate #

Slate requires Ruby 1.9.3 and newer.

It’s really easy to get started:

  1. Install Ruby 1.9.3 or newer

  2. Install Bundler (you may need root permissions)

     gem install bundler
  3. Fork a repository in GitHub

  4. Clone your forked repository locally:

     git clone
     cd slate
  5. Install bundle dependencies

     bundle install

If installing dependencies fails you may download stable version of slate, extract from archive and try to install dependencies again. 7. Start the test server

    bundle exec middleman server
  1. Navigate to http://localhost:5739 to see your documentation
  2. Run rake build to generate documentation locally or rake publish for deploying to remote server (you may need an extra setup).

See the slate wiki for more details.

Predefined (sample) API documentation is defined in the sources/ document. You may want to create a new one in source/v1/ It will be converted to http://localhost:5739/v1/.

Generating PDF version #

Along with HTML documentation, having a PDF version is also desirable. There is no PDF documentation generator in Slate out of the box. But it is very easy to integrate a ruby PDF generator

Add and activate pdfmaker ruby gem in config.rb:

## Pdfmaker custom extension. Add if you want PDF generati
require 'makepdf'

activate :pdfmaker

Then create file makepdf.rb in the base folder:

module PdfMaker
  class << self
    def registered(app)
      app.after_build do |builder|
          require 'pdfkit'

          kit ='build/pdf.html'),
                           :page_size => 'A4',
                           :margin_top => 10,
                           :margin_bottom => 10,
                           :margin_left => 10,
                           :margin_right => 10,
                           :disable_smart_shrinking => false,
                           :print_media_type => true,
                           :dpi => 96

          file = kit.to_file('build/api.pdf')

        rescue Exception =>e
          builder.say_status "PDF Maker",  "Error: #{e.message}", Thor::Shell::Color::RED
        builder.say_status "PDF Maker",  "PDF file available at build/api.pdf"

    alias :included :registered

::Middleman::Extensions.register(:pdfmaker, PdfMaker)

As you can see, PDFKit and subsequently wkhtmltopdf is used under the hood.

Clone source/layouts/layout.erb and modify it to be pdf-friendly:

<!doctype html>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <meta content="IE=edge,chrome=1" http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1, maximum-scale=1">
    <meta name="date" content="<%="%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S%Z") %>">
    <title><%= %> v.<%= %></title>
    <meta name="pdfkit-footer_right" content="Page [page] of [topage]">
    <meta name="pdfkit-footer_left" content="[title] | <%="%Y-%m-%d") %>">
    <meta name="pdfkit-footer_line" content="">
    <meta name="pdfkit-footer_font_size" content="8">
    <%= stylesheet_link_tag :print, media: :all %>


<body class="<%= page_classes %>">

<section class="titlePage">
    <% if %>
        <a href="<%= %>"><%= image_tag "logo.png" %></a>
    <% else %>
        <%= image_tag "logo.png" %>
    <% end %>

    <h1><%= %></h1>

        <div>Version  <%= %></div>
        <div>Date: <%="%Y-%m-%d") %></div>
<section class="content">
    <%= yield %>
    <% && do |include| %>
        <%= partial "includes/#{include}" %>
    <% end %>

Notice pdfkit-footer_* meta tags here.

Create a separate index file with print layout source/

layout: "pdf"
title: API Reference
version: "2.32"
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Squid combines greatly with salted ghee.
Loren ipsum...

Important thing is to specify layout “pdf”

Now you may run generation:

bundle exec middleman build --clean

I hope this little instruction will help you to generate a PDF version of your API.

Other API docs generators. #

Other static API documentation generators: - Java java library useful to build the documentation of your RESTful services. Can be used to generate a static site.