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I have defined a function foo in some complicated way. But now I would like to add a little documentation that gives the user information on how it is to be used.

I know that the ? symbol could be placed before a built-in function to generate useful information about that built-in function. Is there a way I can add helpful information about my foo function in a similar way?

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You can include usage info using the ::usage tag as follows

foo::usage = "foo[x] takes one argument and returns nothing"

Using Information[foo] or ?foo will display the string in the above message

?foo
(* "foo[x] takes one argument and returns nothing" *)

In addition, in version 8 (and some older versions), using CmdShiftK will complete the template if you start the usage message with foo[x] .... Unfortunately, this doesn't work in version 9.

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  • $\begingroup$ It is safe to say that Mathematica's ::usage and template system is best described as "kludgy". For the benefit of others I provide a link to a question that summarizes the various problems and possible workarounds: mathematica.stackexchange.com/questions/58669/… $\endgroup$
    – QuantumDot
    Feb 7 '16 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ How do I change the message in the floating message which appears when the function name is typed? $\endgroup$ Jun 5 '20 at 23:55
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The simplest way for a short documentation is by adding a usage to a function, as described in the other answer above.

For a more in depth documentation (as in the Mathematica help) you can use Wolfram Workbench, a tutorial can be found there
http://www.wolfram.co.uk/products/workbench/.

Alternatively you can have a look at this answer.
https://stackoverflow.com/questions/6574710/integrating-notebooks-to-mathematicas-documentation-center

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    $\begingroup$ it might be the best way, but for sure not the simplest. $\endgroup$
    – Yves Klett
    Jan 3 '13 at 8:51
  • $\begingroup$ Yes I agree, I modified my answer accordingly. $\endgroup$
    – faysou
    Jan 3 '13 at 10:10

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