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Why is documentation important

One of the goals of CS2030 is to move you away from the mindset that you are writing code that you will discard after it is done (e.g., in CS1010 labs) and you are writing code that noone else will read except you. CS2030 prepares you to work in a software engineering teams in many ways, and one of the ways is to get you to document your code.

javadoc is a tool used to document Java code. It automatically generates HTML documentation from the comments in your code. The Java SE 8 API that you have seen are generated from javadoc.

How to comment for javadoc

javadoc distinguishes between normal comments and comments meant for javadoc by how we "fence" the comments. A javadoc comments always starts with /** (not the double asterisks) and ends with */ and are always placed immediately before a class, an interface, a constructor, a method, or field declaration.


 * Encapsulates a circle on a 2D plane.  The `Circle` class supports operators 
 * supported includes (i) checking if a point is contained in the circle,
 * and (ii) moving the circle around to a new position.

The first sentence is the summary sentence. We should follow some style guideline when writing the summary sentence (see below).

javadoc comments supports HTML tags. If you are not familiar with HTML, that is fine. We will tell you what you need to know below.


javadoc supports tags. Here are some tags that we would like you to use:

  • @param <name> <description>: describe the parameter
  • @return <description> describe the return value
  • @throws <class name> <description> describe what the exception being thrown and what are the possible reasons

See Lab 1 and Lab 2 skeleton code for samples.


  1. If you want to break your comments into paragraphs, insert one blank line between paragraphs. Start a new paragraph with HTML tag <p> with no space after, and end your paragraph with HTML tag </p>.

  2. You should use the tags @param @return and @throws in that order, and they should never appear without a description.

  3. The summary should be short and succint. It is not a complete sentence, however, but should still be capitalized and ends with a period. E.g., /** Encapsulates a circle on 2D plane. .. */

  4. You don't get to write javadoc for self-explanatory, simple, obvious, methods. e.g., getX(), unless you want to explain what x means.

How to generate javadoc

In its simplest form, you can generate javadoc like this:

javadoc *.java

This will generate the HTML files in your current directory.

To avoid clutters, I recommend that you specify the output directory, e.g.,

javadoc *.java -d docs

This will generate the documentations and put it under the docs subdirectory.

javadoc by default generates documents only for public classes, fields, and methods. To generate documentation for everything, run

javadoc *.java -d docs -private

How to view generate javadoc

If you generate the documentation on your computer, you can view it by opening up the file index.html in your browser.

If you generate the documentation on, then, you can create under your public_html directory (your home page, so to say).

javadoc -private -d ~/public_html/lab03 *.java

You can then view the documents on your computer through the URL


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