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Guide to Dokka Plugin development

Building Dokka

Dokka is built with Gradle. To build it, use ./gradlew build. Alternatively, open the project directory in IntelliJ IDEA and use the IDE to build and run Dokka.

Here's how to import and configure Dokka in IntelliJ IDEA 2019.3:

  • Select "Open" from the IDEA welcome screen, or File > Open if a project is already open
  • Select the directory with your clone of Dokka


IDEA may have an error after the project is initally opened; it is OK to ignore this as the next step will address this error

  • After IDEA opens the project, select File > New > Module from existing sources and select the build.gradle.kts file from the root directory of your Dokka clone
  • After Dokka is loaded into IDEA, open the Gradle tool window (View > Tool Windows > Gradle) and click on the top left "Refresh all Gradle projects" button


tldr: you can use a convenient plugin template to speed up the setup.

Dokka requires configured Kotlin plugin and dokka-core dependency.

plugins {
    kotlin("jvm") version "<kotlin_version>"

dependencies {

tasks.withType<KotlinCompile> {
    kotlinOptions.jvmTarget = "1.8"

Building sample plugin

In order to load a plugin into Dokka, your class must extend DokkaPlugin class. A fully qualified name of that class must be placed in a file named org.jetbrains.dokka.plugability.DokkaPlugin under resources/META-INF/services. All instances are automatically loaded during Dokka setup using java.util.ServiceLoader.

Dokka provides a set of entry points, for which user can create their own implementations. They must be delegated using DokkaPlugin.extending(definition: ExtendingDSL.() -> Extension<T, *, *>) function,that returns a delegate ExtensionProvider with supplied definition.

To create a definition, you can use one of two infix functionswith(T) or providing( (DokkaContext) -> T) where T is the type of an extended endpoint. You can also use infix functions:

  • applyIf( () -> Boolean ) to add additional condition specifying whether or not the extension should be used
  • order((OrderDsl.() -> Unit)) to determine if your extension should be used before or after another particular extension for the same endpoint
  • override( Extension<T, *, *> ) to override other extension. Overridden extension won't be loaded and overridding one will inherit ordering from it.

Following sample provides custom translator object as a DokkaCore.sourceToDocumentableTranslator

package org.jetbrains.dokka.sample

import org.jetbrains.dokka.plugability.DokkaPlugin

class SamplePlugin : DokkaPlugin() {
    extension by extending {
        DokkaCore.sourceToDocumentableTranslator with CustomSourceToDocumentableTranslator

object CustomSourceToDocumentableTranslator: SourceToDocumentableTranslator {
    override fun invoke(sourceSet: SourceSetData, context: DokkaContext): DModule

Registering extension point

You can register your own extension point using extensionPoint function declared in DokkaPlugin class

class SamplePlugin : DokkaPlugin() {
    val extensionPoint by extensionPoint<SampleExtensionPointInterface>()

interface SampleExtensionPointInterface

Obtaining extension instance

All registered plugins are accessible with DokkaContext.plugin function. All plugins that extends DokkaPlugin can use DokkaPlugin.plugin function, that uses underlying DokkaContext instance. If you want to pass context to your extension, you can obtain it using aforementioned providing infix function.

With plugin instance obtained, you can browse extensions registered for this plugins' extension points using querySingle and query methods:

    context.plugin<DokkaBase>().query { htmlPreprocessors }
    context.plugin<DokkaBase>().querySingle { samplesTransformer }

You can also browse DokkaContext directly, using single and get methods:

class SamplePlugin : DokkaPlugin() {

    val extensionPoint by extensionPoint<SampleExtensionPointInterface>()
    val anotherExtensionPoint by extensionPoint<AnotherSampleExtensionPointInterface>()

    val extension by extending {
        extensionPoint with SampleExtension()

    val anotherExtension by extending { 
        anotherExtensionPoint providing { context ->

interface SampleExtensionPointInterface
interface AnotherSampleExtensionPointInterface

class SampleExtension: SampleExtensionPointInterface
class AnotherSampleExtension(sampleExtension: SampleExtensionPointInterface): AnotherSampleExtensionPointInterface