Getting started

Install and configure sphinx

First, we need to create a folder to store our documentation. Normally, it should be in the project root folder.

You also need to install sphinx dependencies.

mkdir docs
pip install sphinx sphinx-autobuild
pip install sphinx-rtd-theme # this is an optional theme

Then, you need to run the sphinx-quickstart script in order to generate the make files for sphinx. This script will prompt you with several questions. Below, we leave a suggestion of what you should answer

cd docs

Suggested answers:

  • > Separate source and build directories (y/n) [n]: y
  • > Do you want to use the epub builder (y/n) [n]: y (optional)
  • > autodoc: automatically insert docstrings from modules (y/n) [n]: y
  • > intersphinx: link between Sphinx documentation of different projects (y/n) [n]: y
  • > viewcode: include links to the source code of documented Python objects (y/n) [n]: y
  • > Create Makefile? (y/n) [y]: y
  • > Create Windows command file? (y/n) [y]: y

For all the other questions, leave the default answer or provide required information (e.g., your project name).

Changing the file

Any configuration related with sphinx should be inside the file which you should find in the /docs/source folder.

For example, you can change the default theme by looking for the html_theme tag.

# The theme to use for HTML and HTML Help pages.  See the documentation for
# a list of builtin themes.
html_theme = 'sphinx_rtd_theme' # use Read The Docs theme

Edit, build, preview cycle

From now on, you can start working on your documentation. The process should go like this:

  • Make changes to your .rst files

  • Build your documentation:

    cd docs
    make clean # you only need to do this once a while
    make html
  • Preview the results by opening the file docs/build/index.html