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How to quickly build a documentation site using Docusaurus ๐Ÿš€

How to quickly build a documentation site using Docusaurus ๐Ÿš€

Kira
ยทDec 27, 2021ยท

6 min read

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Ever tried to create a documentation site for your API or software and struggling to make it look great ๐Ÿค” ? This isn't the problem only you have faced every developer faces it. Today I am here to introduce y'all to Docusaurus ๐ŸŽ‰

About Docusaurus

Docusaurus is a tool designed to make it easy for developers to publish documentation websites without having to worry about the infrastructure and design details. It is built using ReactJS and powered using Markdown ๐Ÿ’ช. The fact that Docusaurus is built using ReactJS makes it super customisable.

Features of Docusaurus

Docusaurus can be easily integrated with advanced features such as

  • ๐Ÿ” Search engine by using Algolia
  • ๐ŸŒ Easy translating of your docs, versioning of your docs
  • ๐Ÿ“ Write interactive JSX components inside Markdown using MDX

Let's get started and dive straight into Docusaurus ๐Ÿ„โ€โ™‚๏ธ

Installing Docusaurus

Let's get started by creating a new Docusaurus site:

npx create-docusaurus@latest my-website classic

Change my-website to name of your site.

After docusaurus site is been succesfully created, let's start a development server

cd my-website
npm run start

This would start a local development server at localhost:3000

Understanding the folder structure

Open up the folder in your preferred text editor or IDE (I would be using VSCode)

Let's now understand the folder structure, before experminating with docusaurus ๐Ÿงช

  • blog - Contains all the markdown files for blog.
  • docs - Contains all the markdown files for the documentation.
  • src - Contains all the react components and pages
  • static - Contains all the static assets such as images
  • docusaurus.config.js - Contains all the configuration for our docusaurus site

Experminating with Docusaurus ๐Ÿงช

Changing the title and tagline of the site

Let's start by changing the title and tagline of our site

Open docusaurus.config.js and make your changes

Disabling the blog feature

As we are focusing on creating a documentation site, let's delete the blog directory. Change the value of the key blog in the array presets to false, this will create a doc-only site

Adding documentation

Let's add documentation to our site now ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿš€

Open the docs directory and delete all the files under it and create a new file. So the file structure of the docs directory would look like this:

As we have deleted all the files inside the docs directory. Now we have deleted few configs in the docusaurus.config.js file. As few of the configs we related to deleted markdown files. This could cause errors. After deleting few configs and making few tweeks. This is what the docusaurus.config.js file would be like

// @ts-check
// Note: type annotations allow type checking and IDEs autocompletion

const lightCodeTheme = require('prism-react-renderer/themes/github');
const darkCodeTheme = require('prism-react-renderer/themes/dracula');

/** @type {import('@docusaurus/types').Config} */
const config = {
  title: 'My Docusaurus Site',
  tagline: 'Dinosaurs are cool',
  url: 'https://your-docusaurus-test-site.com',
  baseUrl: '/',
  onBrokenLinks: 'throw',
  onBrokenMarkdownLinks: 'warn',
  favicon: 'img/favicon.ico',
  organizationName: 'kira272921', // Usually your GitHub org/user name.
  projectName: 'docusaurus-tutorial', // Usually your repo name.

  presets: [
    [
      'classic',
      /** @type {import('@docusaurus/preset-classic').Options} */
      ({
        docs: {
          sidebarPath: require.resolve('./sidebars.js'),
          // Please change this to your repo.
          editUrl: 'https://github.com/facebook/docusaurus/tree/main/packages/create-docusaurus/templates/shared/',
        },
        blog: false,
        theme: {
          customCss: require.resolve('./src/css/custom.css'),
        },
      }),
    ],
  ],

  themeConfig:
    /** @type {import('@docusaurus/preset-classic').ThemeConfig} */
    ({
      navbar: {
        title: 'My Site',
        logo: {
          alt: 'My Site Logo',
          src: 'img/logo.svg',
        },
        items: [
          { to: '/blog', label: 'Blog', position: 'left' },
          {
            href: 'https://github.com/facebook/docusaurus',
            label: 'GitHub',
            position: 'right',
          },
        ],
      },
      footer: {
        style: 'dark',
        links: [
          {
            title: 'Community',
            items: [
              {
                label: 'Stack Overflow',
                href: 'https://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/docusaurus',
              },
              {
                label: 'Discord',
                href: 'https://discordapp.com/invite/docusaurus',
              },
              {
                label: 'Twitter',
                href: 'https://twitter.com/docusaurus',
              },
            ],
          },
          {
            title: 'More',
            items: [
              {
                label: 'Blog',
                to: '/blog',
              },
              {
                label: 'GitHub',
                href: 'https://github.com/facebook/docusaurus',
              },
            ],
          },
        ],
        copyright: `Copyright ยฉ ${new Date().getFullYear()} My Project, Inc. Built with Docusaurus.`,
      },
      prism: {
        theme: lightCodeTheme,
        darkTheme: darkCodeTheme,
      },
    }),
};

module.exports = config;

Let's get back to our newly created markdown file in the docs directory

We have to specific the id and the title at the top of every docs. This is how we do it

To check out your doc, go ahead to https://localhost:3000/docs/<the-id-of-your-doc>

You have succesfully created your first documentation ๐ŸŽ‰. Start filling it up with content.

Categories

Categories are really helpful in organizing the docs. It would be also for the fellow developers which would take a look at your documentation.

To create categories, we have to create folder inside the docs directory.

By creating categories, you would be able to see these fancy dropdowns in the sidebar

Note: The order of the files are auto-generated by docusaurus, according to the alphabetical order. We could manually change the order of the files in the sidebar, which I would be explaining in the next section.

Customizing the sidebar

As I have said before the name of the categories are actually the name of the folder in our project. But we don't want have camelCase as our category name.

So here's how we can manually edit the siderbar

Go ahead and open up the sidebars.js file

You would see a comment which says

By default, Docusaurus generates a sidebar from the docs folder structure

Delete the piece of code, under that comment and uncomment code under which is under this follwing comment

But you can create a sidebar manually

This would be the remaining code in sidebars.js file after the above tweeks

/** @type {import('@docusaurus/plugin-content-docs').SidebarsConfig} */
const sidebars = {
  tutorialSidebar: [
    {
      type: 'category',
      label: 'Tutorial',
      items: ['hello'],
    },
  ],
};

module.exports = sidebars;

So we want our first doc to be on the top of the sidebar and then a category with the name Category and under that we would have two markdown files in the following order

  • category-doc.md
  • category-doc-two.md

Let's go ahead and create a new object under the array with the following piece of code

    {
      type: 'doc',
      label: 'First Doc',
      id: 'first-doc'
    },

Let's break this down

  • The type defines whether it is link, a single doc or a category
  • The label is the name which shows up on the sidebar
  • The id is the id of the doc

Let's now create a category under the doc in the sidebar. To do that we have to add the following object inside the array

    {
      type: 'category',
      label: 'Category',
      items: [
        'category/category-doc',
        'category/category-doc-two'
      ],
    },

Let's break this down

  • The type defines whether it is link, a single doc or a category
  • The label is the name which shows up on the sidebar
  • The items array contains all the ids of the docs which needs to be shown in the sidebar.
    • The values in the items array need to be in this format <category-dir-name>/<doc-id>

Customizing the navbar

Let's now start customizing the navbar

Go ahead and open up the docusaurus.config.js file. Check out for the object named navbar, whatever you edit over in that object will result in the navbar.

Let's add a link which would redirect to our first doc.

To create a new item in the navbar, you would have to just create a new value in the items array under the navbar object

More about customizing the navbar over here

Customizing the footer is similar to customizing the navbar. It's just adding values to an array which is under an object.

In this case the object is footer, which is right under the navbar object and the array is links.

More about customizing the footer over here

That's all for this blog. Meet y'all next week with some another intersting blog ๐Ÿ‘‹

The source code for this tutorial would be available on my GitHub.