How Fumadocs works

The framework for building documentation


1 year ago, I was having fun with Next.js App Rouer. While experimenting it on my toy No Deploy, I planned to build a documentation. However, Nextra does not support App Router.

To handle this, I implemented a small documentation site with solely Contentlayer and the new features from App Router. It was working great, looks blazing-fast and minimal. I cloned the logic from No Deploy and built this documentation framework. With a few months of development, it soon became powerful and stable.

It was originally named next-docs, I renamed it to Fumadocs as it conflicts with Next.js Docs.

Thanks to the support from Next.js community, I've received a lot of suggestions along the way. Fumadocs is now a framework used by my libraries and some other amazing projects.

My Opinion

In Web development, most "robust" frameworks/libraries are incredibly heavy and fabulous, but it indeed made our developer experience fancy.

On the top of Javascript, people bulit bundlers, transpilers, and even Typescript. It feels very surprisingly that Javascript, a high-level scripting language, is more similar to assembly code in modern Web development. We rarely use them without things like Webpack. This also applies to CSS, at least as my experience, I seldom use CSS without PostCSS.

While they might be necessary for compatibility and DX, the landing of React Server Component and Next.js App Router made the experience even more mindblowing. It feels like magic. The cunning magical frameworks, and web development miracles. This kind of design is insane, but it also makes us mindlessly forget the boundaries.

Beginners use Metadata API, while they have no idea how meta tag works. They put server-side logic in a server component, while they have no idea how expensive the calculation is. Even when we looked at the code, we can't predict the result without running it in production mode. I saw too many of these misconceptions.

This happens on many frameworks, they are overly magical. I wanted to make it less-magic, and straightforward at least for most Next.js developers.

Fumadocs MDX

As the recommended content source, It is actually a webpack hack. Since Next.js could only optimize static imports, it first transform your .map.ts to a file that roughy yields:

export default [import("./my/file.mdx"), ...];

And then transform MDX files with a custom loader. It makes all magic possible, but it doesn't have the ablility of lazy-loading MDX files. Comparing to Nextra, it might be a suboptimal approach.

Nextra does it even easier, it directly transforms MDX files into pages. Because the Pages Router adapts Javascript files as a single page, it is possible. In App Router, this is not possible anymore. Therefore, I didn't take this approach.

Fumadocs Core

The core of Fumadocs is a bunch of utilties and MDX plugins.

In addition, it also established the definitions of Page Tree and Page Conventions. Over all, it is not yet a framework without Fumadocs UI.

In my opinion, the most valuable part in the codebase are MDX plugins. I learnt a lot more about ASTs and the eco-system of remark/rehype while working on them. Absolutely an amazing experience.

Fumadocs UI

The UI implementation of Fumadocs using Tailwind CSS and Radix UI. Its design system was inspired by Shadcn UI, using CSS variables for color utilities.

Although the structure of Fumadocs UI is even simpler than core, I've used some subtle hacks to solve the problem of "use client" directive. The bundler I am using, TSX, can't handle nested structures like client components imported from a server comopnent. Therefore, I made a little hack to build server components and client components as an individual entry, then inject import statements after the process.

Also it took me some time to come up with the preset approach for integrating Fumadocs UI with Tailwind CSS projects.

Docs Generators

We have a few built-in integrations, like fumadocs-openapi which takes an OpenAPI schema and output MDX files.

For the OpenAPI one, it simply parse the schema and convert it to MDX file through string templates.

The Typescript integration does a bit more, it obtain type information with Typscript Compiler API. Based on the information, it yields MDX files. You can use it inside a server component, which is how <AutoTypeTable /> works.


As a project with very few contributors, I built the CL/CI process as convenient as possible for a better efficiency. The entire release process is handled by Changesets, and I wrote the scripts to update the template repository automatically. It worked great so far.


The Github repository of Fumadocs has reached 300 stars in 2024 March, it is a new achievement for me. Welcome to give it a star to support my work!

Written by

Fuma Nama


Wed May 15 2024