Contributing to Sphinx¶
There are many ways you can contribute to Sphinx, be it filing bug reports or feature requests, writing new documentation or submitting patches for new or fixed behavior. This guide serves to illustrate how you can get started with this.
The Sphinx community maintains a number of mailing lists and IRC channels.
- Stack Overflow with tag python-sphinx
Questions and answers about use and development.
- sphinx-users <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mailing list for user support.
- sphinx-dev <email@example.com>
Mailing list for development related discussions.
- #sphinx-doc on irc.libera.chat
IRC channel for development questions and user support.
Bug Reports and Feature Requests¶
For bug reports, please include the output produced during the build process and also the log file Sphinx creates after it encounters an unhandled exception. The location of this file should be shown towards the end of the error message.
Including or providing a link to the source files involved may help us fix the issue. If possible, try to create a minimal project that produces the error and post that instead.
The Sphinx source code is managed using Git and is hosted on GitHub. The recommended way for new contributors to submit code to Sphinx is to fork this repository and submit a pull request after committing changes to their fork. The pull request will then need to be approved by one of the core developers before it is merged into the main repository.
Before starting on a patch, we recommend checking for open issues or open a fresh issue to start a discussion around a feature idea or a bug. If you feel uncomfortable or uncertain about an issue or your changes, feel free to email the sphinx-dev mailing list.
These are the basic steps needed to start developing on Sphinx.
Create an account on GitHub.
Fork the main Sphinx repository (sphinx-doc/sphinx) using the GitHub interface.
Clone the forked repository to your machine.
git clone https://github.com/USERNAME/sphinx cd sphinx
Checkout the appropriate branch.
Sphinx adopts Semantic Versioning 2.0.0 (refs: https://semver.org/ ).
For changes that preserves backwards-compatibility of API and features, they should be included in the next MINOR release, use the
git checkout A.x
For incompatible or other substantial changes that should wait until the next MAJOR release, use the
For urgent release, a new PATCH branch must be branched from the newest release tag (see Sphinx’s release process for detail).
Setup a virtual environment.
This is not necessary for unit testing, thanks to
tox, but it is necessary if you wish to run
sphinx-buildlocally or run unit tests without the help of
virtualenv ~/.venv . ~/.venv/bin/activate pip install -e .
Create a new working branch. Choose any name you like.
git checkout -b feature-xyz
Hack, hack, hack.
Write your code along with tests that shows that the bug was fixed or that the feature works as expected.
Add a bullet point to
CHANGESif the fix or feature is not trivial (small doc updates, typo fixes), then commit:
git commit -m '#42: Add useful new feature that does this.'
GitHub recognizes certain phrases that can be used to automatically update the issue tracker. For example:
git commit -m 'Closes #42: Fix invalid markup in docstring of Foo.bar.'
would close issue #42.
Push changes in the branch to your forked repository on GitHub:
git push origin feature-xyz
Submit a pull request from your branch to the respective branch (
Wait for a core developer to review your changes.
Please follow these guidelines when writing code for Sphinx:
Try to use the same code style as used in the rest of the project.
For non-trivial changes, please update the
CHANGESfile. If your changes alter existing behavior, please document this.
New features should be documented. Include examples and use cases where appropriate. If possible, include a sample that is displayed in the generated output.
When adding a new configuration variable, be sure to document it and update
sphinx/cmd/quickstart.pyif it’s important enough.
Add appropriate unit tests.
Style and type checks can be run using
tox -e mypy tox -e flake8
To run Python unit tests, we recommend using
tox, which provides a number
of targets and allows testing against multiple different Python environments:
To list all possible targets:
To run unit tests for a specific Python version, such as Python 3.6:
tox -e py36
To run unit tests for a specific Python version and turn on deprecation warnings on so they’re shown in the test output:
PYTHONWARNINGS=all tox -e py36
pytestcan be passed via
tox, e.g. in order to run a particular test:
tox -e py36 tests/test_module.py::test_new_feature
You can also test by installing dependencies in your local environment:
pip install .[test]
npm install npm run test
New unit tests should be included in the
tests directory where
For bug fixes, first add a test that fails without your changes and passes after they are applied.
Tests that need a
sphinx-buildrun should be integrated in one of the existing test modules if possible. New tests that to
build_allfor a few assertions are not good since the test suite should not take more than a minute to run.
New in version 1.6:
sphinx.testing is added as a experimental.
Changed in version 1.5.2: Sphinx was switched from nose to pytest.
The below belongs in the developer guide
Utility functions and pytest fixtures for testing are provided in
sphinx.testing. If you are a developer of Sphinx extensions, you can write
unit tests with using pytest. At this time,
sphinx.testing will help your
How to use pytest fixtures that are provided by
sphinx.testing? You can
'sphinx.testing.fixtures' in your test modules or
files like this:
pytest_plugins = 'sphinx.testing.fixtures'
If you want to know more detailed usage, please refer to
test_*.py files under
Add a more extensive documentation contribution guide.
You can build documentation using
tox -e docs
The parts of messages in Sphinx that go into builds are translated into several
locales. The translations are kept as gettext
.po files translated from the
Sphinx uses Babel to extract messages
and maintain the catalog files. It is integrated in
python setup.py extract_messagesto update the
python setup.py update_catalogto update all existing language catalogs in
sphinx/locale/*/LC_MESSAGESwith the current messages in the template file.
python setup.py compile_catalogto compile the
.pofiles to binary
When an updated
.po file is submitted, run compile_catalog to commit both
the source and the compiled catalogs.
When a new locale is submitted, add a new directory with the ISO 639-1 language
identifier and put
sphinx.po in there. Don’t forget to update the possible
The Sphinx core messages can also be translated on Transifex. There
tx client tool,
which is provided by the
transifex_client Python package, can be used to
pull translations in
.po format from Transifex. To do this, go to
sphinx/locale and then run
tx pull -f -l LANG where
LANG is an
existing language identifier. It is good practice to run
update_catalog afterwards to make sure the
.po file has the canonical
Delete the build cache before building documents if you make changes in the code by running the command
make cleanor using the
sphinx-build -Poption to run
node.asdom().toxml()to generate a printable representation of the document structure.
Set the configuration variable
Trueso warnings will be displayed in the generated output.
Set the configuration variable
Trueso that Sphinx will complain about references without a known target.
Set the debugging options in the Docutils configuration file.
npm install node_modules/.bin/grunt build # -> dest/*.global.js