Unstable features

Rustdoc is under active development, and like the Rust compiler, some features are only available on the nightly releases. Some of these are new and need some more testing before they're able to get released to the world at large, and some of them are tied to features in the Rust compiler that are themselves unstable. Several features here require a matching #![feature(...)] attribute to enable, and thus are more fully documented in the Unstable Book. Those sections will link over there as necessary.

Nightly-gated functionality

These features just require a nightly build to operate. Unlike the other features on this page, these don't need to be "turned on" with a command-line flag or a #![feature(...)] attribute in your crate. This can give them some subtle fallback modes when used on a stable release, so be careful!

Error numbers for compile-fail doctests

As detailed in the chapter on documentation tests, you can add a compile_fail attribute to a doctest to state that the test should fail to compile. However, on nightly, you can optionally add an error number to state that a doctest should emit a specific error number:

```compile_fail,E0044
extern { fn some_func<T>(x: T); }
```

This is used by the error index to ensure that the samples that correspond to a given error number properly emit that error code. However, these error codes aren't guaranteed to be the only thing that a piece of code emits from version to version, so this is unlikely to be stabilized in the future.

Attempting to use these error numbers on stable will result in the code sample being interpreted as plain text.

Linking to items by type

As designed in RFC 1946, Rustdoc can parse paths to items when you use them as links. To resolve these type names, it uses the items currently in-scope, either by declaration or by use statement. For modules, the "active scope" depends on whether the documentation is written outside the module (as /// comments on the mod statement) or inside the module (at //! comments inside the file or block). For all other items, it uses the enclosing module's scope.

For example, in the following code:


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
/// Does the thing.
pub fn do_the_thing(_: SomeType) {
    println!("Let's do the thing!");
}

/// Token you use to [`do_the_thing`].
pub struct SomeType;
#}

The link to [`do_the_thing`] in SomeType's docs will properly link to the page for fn do_the_thing. Note that here, rustdoc will insert the link target for you, but manually writing the target out also works:


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
pub mod some_module {
    /// Token you use to do the thing.
    pub struct SomeStruct;
}

/// Does the thing. Requires one [`SomeStruct`] for the thing to work.
///
/// [`SomeStruct`]: some_module::SomeStruct
pub fn do_the_thing(_: some_module::SomeStruct) {
    println!("Let's do the thing!");
}
#}

For more details, check out the RFC, and see the tracking issue for more information about what parts of the feature are available.

Extensions to the #[doc] attribute

These features operate by extending the #[doc] attribute, and thus can be caught by the compiler and enabled with a #![feature(...)] attribute in your crate.

Documenting platform-/feature-specific information

Because of the way Rustdoc documents a crate, the documentation it creates is specific to the target rustc compiles for. Anything that's specific to any other target is dropped via #[cfg] attribute processing early in the compilation process. However, Rustdoc has a trick up its sleeve to handle platform-specific code if it does receive it.

Because Rustdoc doesn't need to fully compile a crate to binary, it replaces function bodies with loop {} to prevent having to process more than necessary. This means that any code within a function that requires platform-specific pieces is ignored. Combined with a special attribute, #[doc(cfg(...))], you can tell Rustdoc exactly which platform something is supposed to run on, ensuring that doctests are only run on the appropriate platforms.

The #[doc(cfg(...))] attribute has another effect: When Rustdoc renders documentation for that item, it will be accompanied by a banner explaining that the item is only available on certain platforms.

For Rustdoc to document an item, it needs to see it, regardless of what platform it's currently running on. To aid this, Rustdoc sets the flag #[cfg(rustdoc)] when running on your crate. Combining this with the target platform of a given item allows it to appear when building your crate normally on that platform, as well as when building documentation anywhere.

For example, #[cfg(any(windows, rustdoc))] will preserve the item either on Windows or during the documentation process. Then, adding a new attribute #[doc(cfg(windows))] will tell Rustdoc that the item is supposed to be used on Windows. For example:


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#![feature(doc_cfg)]

#fn main() {
/// Token struct that can only be used on Windows.
#[cfg(any(windows, rustdoc))]
#[doc(cfg(windows))]
pub struct WindowsToken;

/// Token struct that can only be used on Unix.
#[cfg(any(unix, rustdoc))]
#[doc(cfg(unix))]
pub struct UnixToken;
#}

In this sample, the tokens will only appear on their respective platforms, but they will both appear in documentation.

#[doc(cfg(...))] was introduced to be used by the standard library and currently requires the #![feature(doc_cfg)] feature gate. For more information, see its chapter in the Unstable Book and its tracking issue.

Adding your trait to the "Important Traits" dialog

Rustdoc keeps a list of a few traits that are believed to be "fundamental" to a given type when implemented on it. These traits are intended to be the primary interface for their types, and are often the only thing available to be documented on their types. For this reason, Rustdoc will track when a given type implements one of these traits and call special attention to it when a function returns one of these types. This is the "Important Traits" dialog, visible as a circle-i button next to the function, which, when clicked, shows the dialog.

In the standard library, the traits that qualify for inclusion are Iterator, io::Read, and io::Write. However, rather than being implemented as a hard-coded list, these traits have a special marker attribute on them: #[doc(spotlight)]. This means that you could apply this attribute to your own trait to include it in the "Important Traits" dialog in documentation.

The #[doc(spotlight)] attribute currently requires the #![feature(doc_spotlight)] feature gate. For more information, see its chapter in the Unstable Book and its tracking issue.

Exclude certain dependencies from documentation

The standard library uses several dependencies which, in turn, use several types and traits from the standard library. In addition, there are several compiler-internal crates that are not considered to be part of the official standard library, and thus would be a distraction to include in documentation. It's not enough to exclude their crate documentation, since information about trait implementations appears on the pages for both the type and the trait, which can be in different crates!

To prevent internal types from being included in documentation, the standard library adds an attribute to their extern crate declarations: #[doc(masked)]. This causes Rustdoc to "mask out" types from these crates when building lists of trait implementations.

The #[doc(masked)] attribute is intended to be used internally, and requires the #![feature(doc_masked)] feature gate. For more information, see its chapter in the Unstable Book and its tracking issue.

Include external files as API documentation

As designed in RFC 1990, Rustdoc can read an external file to use as a type's documentation. This is useful if certain documentation is so long that it would break the flow of reading the source. Instead of writing it all inline, writing #[doc(include = "sometype.md")] (where sometype.md is a file adjacent to the lib.rs for the crate) will ask Rustdoc to instead read that file and use it as if it were written inline.

#[doc(include = "...")] currently requires the #![feature(external_doc)] feature gate. For more information, see its chapter in the Unstable Book and its tracking issue.

Unstable command-line arguments

These features are enabled by passing a command-line flag to Rustdoc, but the flags in question are themselves marked as unstable. To use any of these options, pass -Z unstable-options as well as the flag in question to Rustdoc on the command-line. To do this from Cargo, you can either use the RUSTDOCFLAGS environment variable or the cargo rustdoc command.

--markdown-before-content: include rendered Markdown before the content

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --markdown-before-content extra.md
$ rustdoc README.md -Z unstable-options --markdown-before-content extra.md

Just like --html-before-content, this allows you to insert extra content inside the <body> tag but before the other content rustdoc would normally produce in the rendered documentation. However, instead of directly inserting the file verbatim, rustdoc will pass the files through a Markdown renderer before inserting the result into the file.

--markdown-after-content: include rendered Markdown after the content

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --markdown-after-content extra.md
$ rustdoc README.md -Z unstable-options --markdown-after-content extra.md

Just like --html-after-content, this allows you to insert extra content before the </body> tag but after the other content rustdoc would normally produce in the rendered documentation. However, instead of directly inserting the file verbatim, rustdoc will pass the files through a Markdown renderer before inserting the result into the file.

--playground-url: control the location of the playground

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --playground-url https://play.rust-lang.org/

When rendering a crate's docs, this flag gives the base URL of the Rust Playground, to use for generating Run buttons. Unlike --markdown-playground-url, this argument works for standalone Markdown files and Rust crates. This works the same way as adding #![doc(html_playground_url = "url")] to your crate root, as mentioned in the chapter about the #[doc] attribute. Please be aware that the official Rust Playground at https://play.rust-lang.org does not have every crate available, so if your examples require your crate, make sure the playground you provide has your crate available.

If both --playground-url and --markdown-playground-url are present when rendering a standalone Markdown file, the URL given to --markdown-playground-url will take precedence. If both --playground-url and #![doc(html_playground_url = "url")] are present when rendering crate docs, the attribute will take precedence.

--crate-version: control the crate version

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --crate-version 1.3.37

When rustdoc receives this flag, it will print an extra "Version (version)" into the sidebar of the crate root's docs. You can use this flag to differentiate between different versions of your library's documentation.

--linker: control the linker used for documentation tests

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc --test src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --linker foo
$ rustdoc --test README.md -Z unstable-options --linker foo

When rustdoc runs your documentation tests, it needs to compile and link the tests as executables before running them. This flag can be used to change the linker used on these executables. It's equivalent to passing -C linker=foo to rustc.

--sort-modules-by-appearance: control how items on module pages are sorted

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --sort-modules-by-appearance

Ordinarily, when rustdoc prints items in module pages, it will sort them alphabetically (taking some consideration for their stability, and names that end in a number). Giving this flag to rustdoc will disable this sorting and instead make it print the items in the order they appear in the source.

--themes: provide additional themes

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --themes theme.css

Giving this flag to rustdoc will make it copy your theme into the generated crate docs and enable it in the theme selector. Note that rustdoc will reject your theme file if it doesn't style everything the "light" theme does. See --theme-checker below for details.

--theme-checker: verify theme CSS for validity

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc -Z unstable-options --theme-checker theme.css

Before including your theme in crate docs, rustdoc will compare all the CSS rules it contains against the "light" theme included by default. Using this flag will allow you to see which rules are missing if rustdoc rejects your theme.

--resource-suffix: modifying the name of CSS/JavaScript in crate docs

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --resource-suffix suf

When rendering docs, rustdoc creates several CSS and JavaScript files as part of the output. Since all these files are linked from every page, changing where they are can be cumbersome if you need to specially cache them. This flag will rename all these files in the output to include the suffix in the filename. For example, light.css would become light-suf.css with the above command.

--display-warnings: display warnings when documenting or running documentation tests

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --display-warnings
$ rustdoc --test src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --display-warnings

The intent behind this flag is to allow the user to see warnings that occur within their library or their documentation tests, which are usually suppressed. However, due to a bug, this flag doesn't 100% work as intended. See the linked issue for details.

--extern-html-root-url: control how rustdoc links to non-local crates

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z unstable-options --extern-html-root-url some-crate=https://example.com/some-crate/1.0.1

Ordinarily, when rustdoc wants to link to a type from a different crate, it looks in two places: docs that already exist in the output directory, or the #![doc(doc_html_root)] set in the other crate. However, if you want to link to docs that exist in neither of those places, you can use these flags to control that behavior. When the --extern-html-root-url flag is given with a name matching one of your dependencies, rustdoc use that URL for those docs. Keep in mind that if those docs exist in the output directory, those local docs will still override this flag.

-Z force-unstable-if-unmarked

Using this flag looks like this:

$ rustdoc src/lib.rs -Z force-unstable-if-unmarked

This is an internal flag intended for the standard library and compiler that applies an #[unstable] attribute to any dependent crate that doesn't have another stability attribute. This allows rustdoc to be able to generate documentation for the compiler crates and the standard library, as an equivalent command-line argument is provided to rustc when building those crates.

doc_alias feature

This feature allows you to add alias(es) to an item when using the rustdoc search through the doc(alias) attribute. Example:


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#![feature(doc_alias)]

#fn main() {
#[doc(alias = "x")]
#[doc(alias = "big")]
pub struct BigX;
#}

Then, when looking for it through the rustdoc search, if you enter "x" or "big", search will show the BigX struct first.