LV2 Extension Documentation

Recently there has been a lot of discussion on the linux-audio-dev list about LV2, and perceived problems thereof. Much of this was nonsense and FUD, but there is a problem with documentation of LV2 things in general, and the general public face of the LV2 site and wiki (i.e. it looks really bad and useful information is scattered everywhere, in inconsistent formats, and just generally hard to find or use, if it exists at all).

Towards solving this problem, I've done a lot of work on automatic documentation generation for LV2 extensions, and establishing good conventions for extension creators to follow in the future. The fruits of this effort can be seen by plugging the URI for any concept in an extension hosted at directly into your browser's location bar.

For example, if you encounter event:inheritsTimeStamp in an LV2 data file somewhere and don't know what it means, head to (you will have to look up what the prefix "event" stands for in the file, of course). You are taken directly to documentation on that property generated from the extension itself (as defined in a .ttl file).

The same applies to entire extensions: the event extension's URI is Heading to that URI in your browser will take you to the documentation of that extension. This is the URI used directly in data files that refer to the extension, so no searching whatsoever is required to get at the information you need. As you can see on that page, there are links to all the related files you might need (e.g. headers, a tarball of the extension, etc).

Extension URIs will also content negotiate to return the requested type of data. Try these commands in your shell:

wget -q --header "Accept: application/x-turtle" -O -
wget -q --header "Accept: application/rdf+xml" -O -
wget -q --header "Accept: application/json" -O -
wget -q --header "Accept: text/plain" -O -
wget -q --header "Accept: text/html" -O -

This could be used by LV2 hosts to automatically fetch from the web information they can not find locally. For example, if an extension is required by a plugin but a host doesn't know what it is, the host can trivially fetch that extension from the web and display a human readable description of what that extension does. This is the kind of thing that using good technology like RDF allows, you naysayers out there ;)

This is all a bit rough around the edges still, and the extensions hosted here aren't all documented well yet (and of course, not all extensions are hosted here), but I'd say this is a pretty big improvement. If you base your own extension on the form of these ones (which is easy), you get all this for free. Hopefully soon enough most if not all extensions and plugins will work this way, at which point I'd say that the reference documentation problem of LV2 is solved about as well as it possibly could be. Better than any other technology I have seen anyway (how many things do you use where you can just plug whatever you're curious about right into your browser and get taken directly to the documentation for that thing?).

Of course, more higher level "tutorial" type documentation is still needed, but this is a separate problem. As far as reference documentation goes, here is the chicken. Go forth and create eggs.

Indices to the currently hosted extensions: /ext /extensions /dev

Stay tuned for more tools to come, e.g. a similar documentation generator for plugins, a plugin/extension validator, etc.