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7.4 Documentation Comments

Documentation comments are used to create stand-alone documentation for classes. Documentation comments are processed into Web pages by the javadoc program that is part of Sun's Java Development Kit (JDK). The javadoc program and the way that it processes .java files into Web pages is fully described in the documentation for javadoc provided by Sun. The remainder of this section describes the special formatting information that can be embedded in documentation comments.

Documentation comments are comments that begin with /**. If a documentation comment immediately precedes the declaration of a class, interface, method, or field variable, it is assumed to describe that class, interface, method, or field variable.

HTML tags can be included in a documentation comment; they are passed directly to the generated Web page. In addition to passing HTML tags, javadoc recognizes special tags that start with an "at" sign (@). These tags must appear as the first word on a line in order to be recognized. Here is an example of a documentation comment that includes these special javadoc tags:

/**
 * RomanNumeral is a class similar to Integer, except that
 * it uses roman numerals for its string based
 * representation.  It only represents positive numbers.
 *
 * @see        Integer
 * @see        Number
 * @see        Float
 * @see        Double
 * @version    1.1, 9/27/96
 * @author     Mark Grand
 */

Here are the special documentation comment tags recognized by javadoc :

@author author-name

Formats the given author name. This tag can only be used in a class or interface documentation comment.

@exception name description

Formats the given exception name and its description in the throws section of a method description. The name should be the fully qualified class name of the exception. This tag can only be used in a method documentation comment.

@param name description

Formats the given parameter name and its description in the parameters section of a method description. This tag can only be used in a method documentation comment.

@return description

Formats the given description in the returns section of a method description. This tag can only be used in a method documentation comment.

@see classname

Generates a hypertext link to the specified class. The class name may be qualified by its package name.

@see classname#method-name

Generates a hypertext link to the specified method in the specified class. The class name may be qualified by its package name.

@version text

Formats the given text as version information. This tag can only be used in a class or interface documentation comment.

@deprecated

Indicates that a class, method, or variable is deprecated, which means that it has been superceded by a newer, preferred class, method, or variable. Deprecated features should not be used in new Java programs. In addition, you should try to update existing code so that it does not rely on deprecated features. While the deprecated features in Java 1.1 are still supported, there is no guarantee that they will be supported in future releases. The @deprecated tag is new as of Java 1.1.

The documentation comment that immediately precedes a declaration is associated with the declaration. If two comments precede a declaration, only the one immediately preceding the declaration is processed by javadoc. The first comment is not considered to be associated with a declaration, so it is ignored. If there is anything but white space between a documentation comment and a declaration, the documentation comment is not considered to be associated with the declaration.

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