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Presenter helper classes

ReSharper provides a couple of classes to help build the HTML - XmlDocHtmlUtil and XmlDocHtmlPresenter. Typically, the presenter will generate the HTML by calling XmlDocHtmlPresenter.Run which in turn calls methods on XmlDocHtmlUtil, such as XmlDocHtmlUtil.BuildHtml, although the presenter is free to call XmlDocHtmlUtil directly, or create the HTML itself. It is, however, recommended to use the helper classes).


Since the presenter has to create the entire HTML that is displayed, it should at the very least use the standard HTML style template that is defined as a public constant in XmlDocHtmlUtil.QUICK_DOC_HTML_STYLE:

return "<html><head>\n" + "<META http-equiv=\"Content-Type\" content=\"text/html; charset=utf-8\">\n" + XmlDocHtmlUtil.QUICK_DOC_HTML_STYLE + " </head><body>\n" + body + "</body></html>";

However, doing this doesn’t include the standard scripts for showing and hiding sections, or the content for the “go to” and “read more” links. To get this, call XmlDocHtmlUtil.BuildHtml, passing in a function that will insert the HTML body into a given StringBuilder, and also a NavigationStyle enum to state if you want “go to”, “read more”, both or none:

BuildHtml(sb => sb.Append(body), NavigationStyle.All);

There are a number of other helper methods:

  • Hyperlink adds an <a> tag to link to the passed in code element ID (not just XML Doc Comment ID - this ID is passed to IQuickDocPresenter.Resolve when the link is clicked). The hyperlink is created in the form cref:ID, which explains the mention of cref elsewhere in the API.

    There are two overloads, one take a simple tooltip parameter, which is frequently set to the fully qualified typename of the code element, and the other takes a class whose properties are used to add attributes to the <a> tag.

    This can be used with anonymous types. For example, CLR attributes get the “ext” class added to indicate external annotation attributes:

    var htmlFragment = Hyperlink(name, id, new { @class = "ext", title = fullyQualifiedName });
  • ProcessCRef will also create a hyperlink, by calling Hyperlink. It will use the linktext parameter passed in as the text, if available. If not, it will try to use the cref parameter as an XML Doc Comment ID to resolve a CLR IDeclaredElement, and use the name as the link text and fully qualified name as a tooltip. Failing that, it strips any colon-delimited prefix (e.g. “M:”) from the cref parameter to use as the link text.
  • OpenCollapsedRegion creates a new region (by inserting a <div>) that is collapsed by default. More content can be added to the StringBuilder to populate the region, and CloseCollapsedRegion will close the div. It is used to include collapsed region in the documentation summary.
  • OpenAttributesRegion/CloseAttributesRegion is very similar to OpenCollapsedRegion/CloseCollapsedRegion except it has different styling, and shows up in the top left of the QuickDoc window. It is used to show the attributes for CLR types and type members.


XmlDocHtmlPresenter is a higher-level API for generating HTML QuickDoc content. It expects an XML node based on the CLR XML Doc Comment format. However, the API is not restricted to CLR XML Doc Comments. The XML is used to create structured HTML, and can be used to generate JavaScript function or CSS type property documentation just as easily as C# type member documentation. Several of the default providers create a new xml node in order to generate documentation.

The entry point to the API is the Run method:

var html = XmlDocHtmlPresenter.Run(node, module, element, language, navigationStyle, processCRef);

The parameters are:

  • node - the XML node representing the documentation.
  • module - an instance of IPsiModule that is passed through untouched to the processCRef delegate.
  • element - the IDeclaredElement instance that the documentation is for. If specified, it’s used to create the code element name header information. If null or empty, the name of the code element comes from the XML node.
  • language - the PsiLanguageType used to format the IDeclaredElement name.
  • navigationStyle - “go to”, “read more”, both or none
  • processCRef - a delegate to handle what happens when references to other code elements should be rendered. Usually defers to XmlDocHtmlUtil.ProcessCRef to create a hyperlink.

Run calls XmlDocHtmlUtil.BuildHtml to create the skeleton HTML, and provides its own implementation of the appendTextBody delegate to populate the HTML body content. This implementation processes the XML node, and formats the HTML appropriately.

XML node format

The Run methods understands the standard CLR XML Doc Comment format, and can also handle unknown elements.

Generally, the root node is the member node, and is used to generate a name heading for the documentation.

All child nodes of the member node are converted into sections in the generated HTML. Each section has a title, such as “Remarks” or “See Also”, and the content of each XML node is converted and displayed in the section.

The following elements are recognised:

  • member - if an IDeclaredElement is specified, the per-language IXmlDocHeaderPresenter interface is used to format the name of the IDeclaredElement. If no element is passed in, the name attribute of the member tag is passed to the processCRef delegate (which typically defers to XmlDocHtmlUtil.ProcessCRef, which creates a hyperlink in the form cref:id). As such, the name attribute should be the CLR XML Doc Comment ID of the element, or a similar ID understood by the QuickDoc presenter.

    After processing the member name, the node’s children are processed, and converted into top level “sections” in the HTML document.

  • include will include the content of another file.
    • The file attribute provides either the fully qualified path name of the file, or a filename relative to the source file containing the declaration of the IDeclaredElement.
    • Once the file has been read, the path attribute is used as an XPath statement to retrieve XML nodes which are in turn processed into HTML
  • example, summary, value, remarks, and return are simply converted into top level HTML sections, with their child nodes processed as content.
  • exception and permission are formatted as a table in the HTML, with the child nodes providing the content, and the cref attribute formatted into a hyperlink with the processCRef delegate. The cref attribute should be an ID understood by the presenter.
  • param and typeparam are also formatted into a HTML table, but the name attribute is passed to processCRef for the name.
  • br inserts a <br> HTML element.
  • c inserts the content of the XML node verbatim into a <code> HTML block. The inner text of the XML node is escaped with XmlDocPresenterUtil.EscapeHtmlString first
  • code also inserts the content of the XML node as a pre-formatted <pre> element. Some cleansing is applied to the pre-formatted text, to normalise indenting, newlines and escape HTML strings.
  • para processes its child nodes, and wraps the resulting content in a <p> element.
  • paramref and typeparamref format the name attribute in a HTML <var> element.
  • seealso passes the cref attribute to processCRef, and the resulting hyperlink is added to the HTML. cref should be an ID understood by the presenter.
  • see also passes the cref attribute to processCRef and appends the output hyperlink. It also supports the langword and title attributes.
  • list looks for the type attribute to see what kind of list is to be created. Accepted values are bullet and number. If no value is specified, the list is formatted as a table.
    • if the listheader child element is specified, its term and description elements are processed (to handle links, code or seealso, etc.) and added to a <tr>, <ul> or <ol> element, depending on the type of the list.
    • Each item node’s term and description elements are added to the list, as either <tr> or <li> elements.

If a top-level element (i.e. a direct child of the root node, or the member node) is not one of the elements in the above list, a new section is created for it. The element name is capitalised to make a section name, and the child nodes of the element are processed as above. This means an unknown element can contain known elements such as code and seealso.

If the unknown element is not top-level, then the XML is added to the text of the description. It is not rendered as HTML, but as plain text, with all tags and attributes being encoded to display as-is.


If an IDeclaredElement is passed in, and the member header is to be rendered, the rendering is deferred to a per-language implementation of IXmlDocHeaderPresenter. ReSharper provides per-language implementations for C#, VB and CSS. All other languages share the CommonXmlDocHeaderPresenter.

If you are implementing your own language, and you do not wish to use the CommonXmlDocHeaderPresenter, you should also implement IXmlDocHeaderPresenter. The interface is simple:

public interface IXmlDocHeaderPresenter { void Present(StringBuilder header, IDeclaredElement declaredElement, IPsiModule module); }

Calling Present will format the declaredElement into the given StringBuilder.

The default implementation in CommonXmlDocHeaderPresenter will use DeclaredElementPresenter.Format to format the name (this defers to the language’s IDeclaredElementPresnter, another extension point for implementing your own language). It then wraps the name in <dl> and <dt> HTML tags.

The C# implementation overrides this default, and while it too calls DeclaredElementPresenter.Format, it also adds formatting for type parameters, method parameters and attributes on the type, type member or parameters, as well as annotations for where the element is declared (“in class”, “in assembly”, etc.)

If you wish to implement support for your own language that uses CLR attributes, you can provide a per-language implementation of IHtmlAttribtuePresenter, and use the HtmlAttributesPresenterBase class to provide a standard formatting of CLR attributes that are initially hidden and expand only when the user clicks on them.

Last modified: 10 July 2017