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Home < Documentation < Labs < DocumentationImprovments

This page keeps track of possible improvement related to the Slicer documentation infrastructure.


User manual with GitBook


Improved Wiki User Documentation

This page is being developed by Hillary from Queen University with help from Andras Lasso.

It is based on this mock-up and is intended to become the new Slicer landing page.


New front page for

  • Evaluating transition of front page to a more collaborative platform. Few options:
    • Mediawiki Visual editor for front page
    • GitHub based static pages. Experiment stored here
  • Current workflow:
    • Update are performed by Marianna
  • What is the role of the front page ?
    • Easy to digest introduction to help decide with they would like to move forward
    • Appealing, well designed, "modern" looking
    • Page we need to "proud of" .. it show case all the great work done in the backend.
    • Well integrated with search engine (SEO). This is also coupled with user/developer documentation.
    • Given new user guidance ?

Improved FAQ

New Platform: Requirements

Expected features

  • Common
    • Analytics
    • Searchable
    • Integrated with C++ and python documentation generator
    • Hackable
    • Easily editable by reader with review process
    • Embed images
    • Embed python and c++ example
    • Link to original documentation for Qt, VTK, ITK, SimpleITK, python
    • Up/Down vote by user ?
    • Collect feedback ?
    • versioning history
    • authentication integrated with commonly used services (google, github,...)
    • prominent visibility of the Slicer web/doc resources on google (related issue:
    • Check and report dead links
  • User
    • Tutorials
    • User Guide
  • For developer
    • Cookbook
    • Reference API


  • gitbook:
  • doxygen:
  • sphinx:
  • sphinx + readthedocs:
  • sphinx + readthedocs + doxygen:
  • mediawiki:
  • FAQ: dedicated github repo as done here: ? Benefits:
    • search is potentially easier
    • easy to insert images and format content
    • users can vote on FAQ entries
    • labels can be added to categorize entries
    • github API can be used (I am assuming!) to pull this and render a web-page, after the FAQ entry has been worked on and finalized by the community

New Platform: Comparison



Very Easy builtin feature, minimal setup class="veryeasy"
Easy simple install, simple script or cron job class="easy"
Moderate involved development, advanced setup, not streamlined class="moderate"
Difficult Not available, doesn't make sense, very involved hackery class="difficult"

How these tables where created ?

  1. Mockup table using
  2. Add new css classes at the end of MediaWiki:Common.css
  3. Assign a rating to each cell

Note that table layout can also easily be generated using the built-in table generator:


List of features for each platforms

MediaWiki ReadTheDocs + Sphinx Gitbook + GitHub
Sign-up for contributor account Dedicated Account Github Account Github Account
From Web: Create a new page Easy Moderate (step 1, create file, step 2, update index) Easy (using "Add Article")
From Web: Edit exiting page Easy Easy Easy
From Web: Edit exiting page uploading images Easy (Click upload link, select image, confirm) Not straighforward, a lot of steps Easy (Click upload, Drag'n drop, Confirm)
From Web: Preview local changes Easy Easy Easy
From Web: Preview changes for complete website NA No (or difficult would need to deploy topic/PR in dedicated github page) Yes
Changes available in Git No (or very difficult to setup) Yes Yes (through sync mechanism, conflict could happen)
Preview changes on workstation NA Yes (1) setup virtual env, then make.bat, make, (2) Potentially provide toolchain as a Slicer extension ??
Support update pushed on GitHub No Yes Yes (through sync mechanism, conflict could happen)
Possibility to review changes Only afterward Yes (with Pull Request) Yes (with Change Request)
Manage documentation version Difficult Easy ??
Allow reader to annotate No

(or through


(or through

Yes - Built in
Allow reader to comment on page Yes

Talk page (Not used in practice)

No Yes
Formatting tables Yes (using Yes (using Yes (using builtin table editor)
Support table sorting Easy (builtin css class + js) Yes (To be added to js and css) Yes (To be added to js and css)
Automatic TOC generation Yes Yes Yes
Cross-referencing section Yes Yes ??
Link to existing documentation (Qt, VTK, ...) Using direct link Using direct link (or intersphinx) Using direct link
Sharing link to page section Yes

After clicking on TOC entry at the top


Anchor available near section title


After clicking on TOC entry on the right

Cross-platform generation toolchain Not available Yes ??
Indexing by search engine Difficult, involve tweaking page headers, updating robots.txt, ... ?? ??
Analytics Possible with Google analytics (with Extension:Google_Analytics_Integration Builtin support for Google analytics Built-in (but no per page stats)
Extensible using plugin Server side extension Toolchain plugins Toolchain plugins
Local testing of plugin NA update "" and python import ???
Reference Github user Direct link Direct link Direct link
Reference Github issue Direct link Using sphinx_issues extension Direct link
Reference Github commit Direct link Direct link Direct link
Code Syntax Highlight Yes (with Extension:SyntaxHighlight) Yes Yes
Maintaining embedded code snippet Code is copied - Hard to maintain (automatic publication could be done using API) Easy - By including tested source file using include directive ??
Document python API No (or very difficult) Easy - Using sphinx-apidoc and python domain directive ??
Document python wrapped VTK-based classes No (or very difficult) Moderate

(using sphinx-apidoc, downloading latest version)

Document pythonQt wrapped Qt -based classes No (or very difficult) Hard

(running sphinx api-doc from within Slicer) - **Need to experiment**

Document CMake API No (or very difficult) Easy - using sphinx cmake extension ??
Document Cpp API generated from Doxygen No (or very difficult) To be tested - Using doxygen + breathe sphinx extension ??

Proposing changes



Uploading Images

ReadTheDocs / GitHub

Diff'ing Changes

ReadTheDocs / GitHub


Documenting Slicer APIs

There are 4 types of object to document:

  • pure python classes
  • python wrapped VTK classes
  • pythonqt wrapped Qt classes
  • c++ classes

ReadTheDocs / GitHub

pure python classes

List of automodules directives is generated using `sphinx-apidoc`. List can be updated re-running `sphinx-apidoc` or by manually adding entries.

An entry look like:

slicer.cli module

.. automodule:: slicer.cli

python wrapped VTK classes

Documentation for these classes can also automatically be generated using sphinx-apidoc and automodule directive.

Locally, I experimented by updating LD_LIBRARY_PATH and PYTHONPATH with Slicer paths but made sure to exclude OpenSSL and Slicer built-in python.

That allow to generate the documentation for vtkITK, teem, .... See below for an example:


pythonqt wrapped Qt classes

To be done

c++ classes

Doxygen is currently doing a good job extracting and generating documentation.

Current platform: Issues and features

  • Check.svg 2015-11-22 1967: Improve "" page - Easier access to build / download / contribute

  • 1966: Add disclaimer associated with 32bit on
  • Check.svg 2015-11-22 1991: Cosmetics for the slicer download page


  1. Issue reports and feature requests can be listed using this link:


  • 2971: Install MetaTags extension
    • Would be great to try it. Note that dependent extension StubManager is not maintained anymore
  • 1543: Install CategoryTree extension
  • 2190: Fix graphviz installation on Slicer wiki
  • 2170: Install extension SyntaxHighlight_GeSHi on Slicer wiki
  • Check.svg 2015-11-22 2272: Simplfy the first screen of the Slicer documentation page
  • 2968: Slicer wiki - Enable short url => easier configuration of robots.txt
  • Account
    • 4216: Wiki: Notify Slicer core developers
  • Analytics
    • 4215: Notify Slicer core developers when an account is created
  • Improved UI
    • 4214: Wiki: Add support for vectorial fonts
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