Added in version 1.0.

Originally, Sphinx was conceived for a single project, the documentation of the Python language. Shortly afterwards, it was made available for everyone as a documentation tool, but the documentation of Python modules remained deeply built in – the most fundamental directives, like function, were designed for Python objects. Since Sphinx has become somewhat popular, interest developed in using it for many different purposes: C/C++ projects, JavaScript, or even reStructuredText markup (like in this documentation).

While this was always possible, it is now much easier to easily support documentation of projects using different programming languages or even ones not supported by the main Sphinx distribution, by providing a domain for every such purpose.

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. Domains can also provide custom indices (like the Python Module Index).

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.

This section describes what the domains that are included with Sphinx provide. The domain API is documented as well, in the section Domain API.

Basic Markup

Most domains provide a number of object description directives, used to describe specific objects provided by modules. Each directive requires one or more signatures to provide basic information about what is being described, and the content should be the description.

A domain will typically keep an internal index of all entities to aid cross-referencing. Typically it will also add entries in the shown general index. If you want to suppress the addition of an entry in the shown index, you can give the directive option flag :no-index-entry:. If you want to exclude the object description from the table of contents, you can give the directive option flag :no-contents-entry:. If you want to typeset an object description, without even making it available for cross-referencing, you can give the directive option flag :no-index: (which implies :no-index-entry:). If you do not want to typeset anything, you can give the directive option flag :no-typesetting:. This can for example be used to create only a target and index entry for later reference. Though, note that not every directive in every domain may support these options.

Added in version 3.2: The directive option noindexentry in the Python, C, C++, and Javascript domains.

Added in version 5.2.3: The directive option :nocontentsentry: in the Python, C, C++, Javascript, and reStructuredText domains.

Added in version 7.2: The directive option no-typesetting in the Python, C, C++, Javascript, and reStructuredText domains.

Changed in version 7.2:

  • The directive option :noindex: was renamed to :no-index:.

  • The directive option :noindexentry: was renamed to :no-index-entry:.

  • The directive option :nocontentsentry: was renamed to :no-contents-entry:.

The previous names are retained as aliases, but will be deprecated and removed in a future version of Sphinx.

An example using a Python domain directive:

.. py:function:: spam(eggs)

   Spam or ham the foo.

This describes the two Python functions spam and ham. (Note that when signatures become too long, you can break them if you add a backslash to lines that are continued in the next line. Example:

.. py:function:: filterwarnings(action, message='', category=Warning, \
                                module='', lineno=0, append=False)

(This example also shows how to use the :no-index: flag.)

The domains also provide roles that link back to these object descriptions. For example, to link to one of the functions described in the example above, you could say

The function :py:func:`spam` does a similar thing.

As you can see, both directive and role names contain the domain name and the directive name.

The directive option :no-typesetting: can be used to create a target (and index entry) which can later be referenced by the roles provided by the domain. This is particularly useful for literate programming:

.. py:function:: spam(eggs)

.. code::

   def spam(eggs):

The function :py:func:`spam` does nothing.

Default Domain

For documentation describing objects from solely one domain, authors will not have to state again its name at each directive, role, etc… after having specified a default. This can be done either via the config value primary_domain or via this directive:

.. default-domain:: name

Select a new default domain. While the primary_domain selects a global default, this only has an effect within the same file.

If no other default is selected, the Python domain (named py) is the default one, mostly for compatibility with documentation written for older versions of Sphinx.

Directives and roles that belong to the default domain can be mentioned without giving the domain name, i.e.

.. function:: pyfunc()

   Describes a Python function.

Reference to :func:`pyfunc`.

Cross-referencing syntax

For cross-reference roles provided by domains, the same facilities exist as for general cross-references. See Cross-referencing syntax.

In short:

  • You may supply an explicit title and reference target: :role:`title <target>` will refer to target, but the link text will be title.

  • If you prefix the content with !, no reference/hyperlink will be created.

  • If you prefix the content with ~, the link text will only be the last component of the target. For example, :py:meth:`~Queue.Queue.get` will refer to Queue.Queue.get but only display get as the link text.

Built-in domains

The following domains are included within Sphinx:

More domains

There are several third-party domains available as extensions, including: