Boost C++ Libraries of the most highly regarded and expertly designed C++ library projects in the world. Herb Sutter and Andrei Alexandrescu, C++ Coding Standards

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Getting Started

Automatic setup for Unix-like systems
Manual setup for all systems
Running BoostBook

To use the Boost documentation tools, you will need several tools:

Automatic setup for Unix-like systems

BoostBook provides a nearly-automatic setup script. Once you have downloaded and installed xsltproc, doxygen, and (optionally) java, the setup script can download the required DocBook stylesheets, DocBook DTD, and (when Java is enabled) Apache FOP for PDF output. It will then configure Boost.Build version 2 to build BoostBook documentation.

The script requires: sh, curl and gunzip. To perform the installation, execute the script tools/boostbook/ from a directory where you would like the resulting XSL, DTD, and Apache FOP installations to occur.

Manual setup for all systems

This section describes how to manually configure Boost Boost version 2 (BBv@) for BoostBook. If you can use the automatic setup script, you should. All configuration will happen in the BBv2 user configuration file, user-config.jam. If you do not have a copy of this file in your home directory, you should copy the one that resides in tools/build/v2 to your home directory. Alternatively, you can edit tools/build/v2/user-config.jam directly or a site-wide site-config.jam file.

Configuring xsltproc

To configure xsltproc manually, you will need to add a directive to user-config.jam telling it where to find xsltproc. If the program is in your path, just add the following line to user-config.jam:

using xsltproc ;

If xsltproc is somewhere else, use this directive, where XSLTPROC is the full pathname to xsltproc (including xsltproc):

using xsltproc : XSLTPROC ;

Configuring local DocBook XSL and DTD distributions

This section describes how to configure Boost.Build to use local copies of the DocBook DTD and XSL stylesheets to improve processing time. You will first need to download two packages:

  • Norman Walsh's DocBook XSL stylesheets, available at the DocBook sourceforge site. Extract the DocBook XSL stylesheets to a directory on your hard disk (which we'll refer to as the DOCBOOK_XSL_DIR).

  • The DocBook DTD, available as a ZIP archive at the OASIS DocBook site. The package is called "DocBook XML 4.2". Extract the DocBook DTD to a directory on your hard disk (which we'll refer to as the DOCBOOK_DTD_DIR). You will want to extract this archive in a subdirectory!

Add the following directive telling BBv2 where to find the DocBook DTD and XSL stylesheets:

#  BoostBook configuration
using boostbook 

Whenever you change this directive, you will need to remove the bin.v2 directory that BBv2 generates. This is due to longstanding bug we are trying to fix.

At this point, you should be able to build HTML documentation for libraries that do not require Doxygen. To test this, change into the directory $BOOST_ROOT/libs/function/doc and run the command bjam: it should produce HTML documentation for the Boost.Function library in the html subdirectory.

Configuring Doxygen for Documentation Extraction

Doxygen is required to build the documentation for several Boost libraries. You will need a recent version of Doxygen (most of the 1.3.x and 1.4.x versions will suffice). BBv2 by adding the following directive to user-config.jam:

using doxygen : DOXYGEN ;

DOXYGEN should be replaced with the name of the doxygen executable (with full path name). If the right doxygen executable can be found via the path, this parameter can be omitted, e.g.

using doxygen ;
[Important] Important

The relative order of declarations in user-config.jam / site-config.jam files is significant. In particular, the using doxygen line should come after the using boostbook declaration.

Configuring Apache FOP

In order to generate PDF and PostScript output using Apache FOP, you will need a Java interpreter and Apache FOP (version 0.20.5 is best). Unpack Apache FOP to some directory. The top level directory of the FOP tool should contain a main script called on Unix and fop.bat on Windows. You need to specify the location of that script and Java location to Boost.Build. Add the following to your user-config.jam or site-config.jam:

using fop : FOP_COMMAND 
          : JAVA_HOME 

replacing FOP_COMMAND with the full path to the FOP main script, and replacing JAVA_HOME with the directory where Java is installed. If the JAVA_HOME environment variable is already set, you don't need to specify it above.

Proper generation of images in PDFs depends on the Jimi Image Library. To get FOP to use Jimi, extract the file from the Jimi SDK and rename it—if on Windows, to jimi-1.0.jar, or if on *nix, to JimiProClasses.jar—and place it in the lib/ subdirectory of your FOP installation.

To test PDF generation, switch to the directory $BOOST_ROOT/libs/function/doc and execute the command bjam pdf. In the absence of any errors, Apache FOP will be executed to transform the XSL:FO output of DocBook into a PDF file.

Running BoostBook

Once BoostBook has been configured, we can build some documentation. First, change to the directory $BOOST_ROOT/doc and remove (or make writable) the .html files in $BOOST_ROOT/doc/html. Then, run bjam to build HTML documentation. You should see several warnings like these while DocBook documentation is being built from BoostBook documentation:

Cannot find function named 'checked_delete'
Cannot find function named 'checked_array_delete'
Cannot find function named 'next'

These warnings are emitted when the Boost documentation tools cannot find documentation for functions, methods, or classes that are referenced in the source, and are not harmful in any way. Once Boost.Jam has completed its execution, HTML documentation for Boost will be available in $BOOST_ROOT/doc/html. You can also create HTML documentation in a single (large!) HTML file with the command line bjam onehtml, or Unix man pages with the command line bjam man. The complete list of output formats is listed in Table 38.1, “BoostBook Output Formats”. Several output formats can be passed to a single invocation of bjam, e.g., bjam html man docbook would generate HTML (multiple files), man pages, and DocBook documentation.

Table 38.1. BoostBook Output Formats

Format Description

HTML output (multiple files). This is the default


HTML output in a single HTML file.


Unix man pages.


PDF. Requires Apache FOP.


Postscript. Requires Apache FOP.

docbook DocBook.
fo XSL Formatting Objects


The Boost documentation tools are still in their early phase of development, and some things don't work as seamlessly as we would like them to, yet. In particular, error messages can be somewhat uninformative at times. If you find yourself in the situation when you have double checked everything, and yet things still don't work as expected, consider helping the tools by deleting bin.v2 build directory.