Glossary

builder

A class (inheriting from Builder) that takes parsed documents and performs an action on them. Normally, builders translate the documents to an output format, but it is also possible to use the builder builders that e.g. check for broken links in the documentation, or build coverage information.

See Available builders for an overview over Sphinx’s built-in builders.

configuration directory
The directory containing conf.py. By default, this is the same as the source directory, but can be set differently with the -c command-line option.
directive

A reStructuredText markup element that allows marking a block of content with special meaning. Directives are supplied not only by docutils, but Sphinx and custom extensions can add their own. The basic directive syntax looks like this:

.. directivename:: argument ...
   :option: value

   Content of the directive.

See Directives for more information.

document name

Since reST source files can have different extensions (some people like .txt, some like .rst – the extension can be configured with source_suffix) and different OSes have different path separators, Sphinx abstracts them: document names are always relative to the source directory, the extension is stripped, and path separators are converted to slashes. All values, parameters and such referring to “documents” expect such document names.

Examples for document names are index, library/zipfile, or reference/datamodel/types. Note that there is no leading or trailing slash.

domain

A domain is a collection of markup (reStructuredText directives and roles) to describe and link to objects belonging together, e.g. elements of a programming language. Directive and role names in a domain have names like domain:name, e.g. py:function.

Having domains means that there are no naming problems when one set of documentation wants to refer to e.g. C++ and Python classes. It also means that extensions that support the documentation of whole new languages are much easier to write. For more information about domains, see the chapter Sphinx Domains.

environment
A structure where information about all documents under the root is saved, and used for cross-referencing. The environment is pickled after the parsing stage, so that successive runs only need to read and parse new and changed documents.
master document
The document that contains the root toctree directive.
object
The basic building block of Sphinx documentation. Every “object directive” (e.g. function or object) creates such a block; and most objects can be cross-referenced to.
role
A reStructuredText markup element that allows marking a piece of text. Like directives, roles are extensible. The basic syntax looks like this: :rolename:`content`. See Inline markup for details.
source directory
The directory which, including its subdirectories, contains all source files for one Sphinx project.