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Sankalp Swami
Sankalp Swami

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5 Open Source tools for Documenting your React Component

Introduction

Documenting our code is of course not the easiest part of the development process and at times developers even avoid it saying that it's really boring. In this article, we will take an overview of 5 tools whose purpose is to help us in documenting our React Components with bare minimum efforts thus, which have made documenting our React Components a piece of cake.
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What is Software Documentation & Why do we need it?

Software Documentation is one of the most important parts of the Software Development Life cycle. Reliable Documentation of Software applications is a must and without Documentation, our software is incomplete. Software Documentation is documenting all the aspects of our software application. When our senior developer stops working for us, it becomes quite difficult for new developers to get on the code without Documentation, which states how vital it is. With the continuous development of our application, sometimes our docs get outdated. Letโ€™s go through some of the most popular tools which will solve this problem by automating the complete process of Documenting.


5 Tools for Documenting our React Components


1. DOCZ

React Documentation with Docz
Docz, an Open Source project which is used for Documenting React Components, is a super tool which save lots of time that is spent on building and maintaining custom Documentation sites. Docz uses MDX format for writing docs. Now, what the heck this MDX is ? Well, MDX is something where we can write JSX inside our markdown files. Yeah you got it right, just think how beautiful this could be. We will be writing our docs in .mdx file which will be rendered as Documentation by Docz.
React Component Documentation Docz
Docz is rich with features like Playground Component and Props.
Playground Component is a special Component by Docz which helps to render React Components in docs. Playground Component creates tables with valuable content describing the React components with live-editable code below the rendered component. Where we can edit code and test the component efficiently, Brilliant right?
React Documentation Docz
Props is a special Built-In Component in Docz which takes react components and displays a neat formatted table consisting properties of your React component.
React Component Documentation Props Docz


2. STORYBOOK

StoryBook is an Open Source tool used for User-Interface Development. With StoryBook, we can work on one component at a time and can develop the complete UI without any tech stack. It makes the process of developing UI faster and at the same time increases scalability and reliability of Components by isolating them.
StoryBook React Component Documentation

What is a Story in Storybook?

Well Story in Storybook is the single documentation of a component. It renders the UI components. For writing a story for an particular component, we should make a new file with *.stories.js/jsx naming convention. If we are having Button component in Button.js file, story for buttons component will be written in Button.stories.js. For storybook, we will be writing docs in CSF format. Component Story Format, an ES6 Modules-based standard.
Story in Storybook-React Docs
Args, a special feature of Storybook, which can be used for editing the arguments of an component dynamically for testing the components efficiently. This save lots of time which is spent on testing the components.
Args in Storybook React Component Documentation


3. REACT STYLEGUIDIST

React Styleguidist Component Documentation
React Styleguidist is an isolated React component development environment. This tool is used for documenting React components with living style guide and has various variations and states of components for testing. React Styleguidist, an Open Source Project, is a tool which generates documentation for React components from your readme files, source code, propTypes declaration. It even displays JSDoc's comment blocks from the Components as Documentation.

import React from 'react'
import PropTypes from 'prop-types'
/**
 * General component description in JSDoc format. Markdown is *supported*.
 */
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Styleguidist displays props from propTypes declarations in a well formatted table and looks for Markdown .md files for documenting. Programming languages used in .md files in code blocks will be rendered as React Components. It will pick all the files from src/components directory and if it fails, we can manually configure it in styleguide.config.js file in the project's root directory.


4. BIT.DEV

Bit dev react component documentation
Bit is an Component based User Interface development. Bit is far ahead than just the Documentation of Components. Bit is a platform for sharing and collaborating not just React Components but Vue & Angular components, css sheets, and even middlewares and modules too. We can bind all the files and dependencies of our Component using bit and can run them on any application.
Bit-dev-component
We can integrate Bit with our components by tracking our files using bit add command. This will add all of our files to special repository which is understood by Bit. We can tag our components in Bit which makes our components ready for reusable across platforms. It contains all the files, source code and dependencies of that particular component. Bit auto-generates documentation. If you have any kind of JSDocs or .md in your project, Bit will generate docs from those files. Bit will parses comments from components and renders them as componentโ€™s Documentation, all we need to do is write those comments in Markdown format. Bit has a special component called Testers that take other components and checks for test files. If your project has any kind of tests, Testers will run those tests and builds components in isolation and helps us to get better stability, reliability of our components for reusability. It handles the complete lifecycle of the Component and we donโ€™t even need to have an extra repo, if we want to use components from bit, we can install them using npm. For making our components available for other developers, We are supposed to export our components to a scope (a set of components), Once we export our Component to Scope, It will be available for all the developers. Bit has a live-editable playground where we can test our rendered components.
Bit-dev Playground react documentation


5. REACT DOCGEN

Docgen is a CLI-based tool used for documenting React components. It is a simple Documentation tool that generates documentation from the React components. Docgen uses ast-types and @babel/parser to parse the source code and with the help of methods, it extracts information from the source code into JSON blob or JavaScript object. It looks for components that are defined via React.createClass. We can customize the extraction process by using and manipulating the API. React-Docgen looks for Babel configuration for use and if there is no such file it will follow the default configuration.


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Conclusion

From Docz to Bit, we covered the most popular tools that are being used for React Components Documentation. These tools improves the quality of components with the help of their super rich features and makes sure we are not wasting our time on building and maintaining custom documentation sites.


Thanks for reading! Peace, bubbyeye and yeah never share your food!!
Mr bean doesnt share his food

Discussion (7)

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diballesteros profile image
Diego Ballesteros

Storybook is usually my preferred go to method but its neat seeing this list.

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sankalpswami1122 profile image
Sankalp Swami Author

Thanks for reading!

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liftoffka profile image
Liftoff

Nice!

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sankalpswami1122 profile image
Sankalp Swami Author

Thanks for the appreciation!

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liftoffka profile image
Liftoff

No problem ๐Ÿ˜„

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OSCAR P. OGANIZA ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Nice, permission to reshare it on oganiza.com

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Sankalp Swami Author