- Documentation version: 1.3
How the Django documentation works¶
... and how to contribute.
Django’s documentation uses the Sphinx documentation system, which in turn is based on docutils. The basic idea is that lightly-formatted plain-text documentation is transformed into HTML, PDF, and any other output format.
To actually build the documentation locally, you’ll currently need to install Sphinx – easy_install Sphinx should do the trick.
Building the Django documentation requires Sphinx 1.0.2 or newer. Sphinx also requires the Pygments library for syntax highlighting; building the Django documentation requires Pygments 1.1 or newer (a new-enough version should automatically be installed along with Sphinx).
Then, building the HTML is easy; just make html from the docs directory.
To get started contributing, you’ll want to read the reStructuredText Primer. After that, you’ll want to read about the Sphinx-specific markup that’s used to manage metadata, indexing, and cross-references.
The main thing to keep in mind as you write and edit docs is that the more semantic markup you can add the better. So:
Add ``django.contrib.auth`` to your ``INSTALLED_APPS``...
Isn't nearly as helpful as:
Add :mod:`django.contrib.auth` to your :setting:`INSTALLED_APPS`...
This is because Sphinx will generate proper links for the latter, which greatly helps readers. There's basically no limit to the amount of useful markup you can add.
Besides the Sphinx built-in markup, Django's docs defines some extra description units:
.. setting:: INSTALLED_APPS
To link to a setting, use :setting:`INSTALLED_APPS`.
.. templatetag:: regroup
To link, use :ttag:`regroup`.
.. templatefilter:: linebreaksbr
To link, use :tfilter:`linebreaksbr`.
Field lookups (i.e. Foo.objects.filter(bar__exact=whatever)):
.. fieldlookup:: exact
To link, use :lookup:`exact`.
.. django-admin:: syncdb
To link, use :djadmin:`syncdb`.
django-admin command-line options:
.. django-admin-option:: --traceback
To link, use :djadminopt:`--traceback`.
For a quick example of how it all fits together, consider this hypothetical example:
First, the ref/settings.txt document could have an overall layout like this:
======== Settings ======== ... .. _available-settings: Available settings ================== ... .. _deprecated-settings: Deprecated settings =================== ...
Next, the topics/settings.txt document could contain something like this:
You can access a :ref:`listing of all available settings <available-settings>`. For a list of deprecated settings see :ref:`deprecated-settings`. You can find both in the :doc:`settings reference document </ref/settings>`.
Next, notice how the settings are annotated:
.. setting:: ADMIN_FOR ADMIN_FOR --------- Default: ``()`` (Empty tuple) Used for admin-site settings modules, this should be a tuple of settings modules (in the format ``'foo.bar.baz'``) for which this site is an admin. The admin site uses this in its automatically-introspected documentation of models, views and template tags.
This marks up the following header as the "canonical" target for the setting ADMIN_FOR This means any time I talk about ADMIN_FOR, I can reference it using :setting:`ADMIN_FOR`.
That's basically how everything fits together.
The work is mostly done, but here's what's left, in rough order of priority.
Most of the various index.txt documents have very short or even non-existent intro text. Each of those documents needs a good short intro the content below that point.
The glossary is very perfunctory. It needs to be filled out.
Add more metadata targets: there's lots of places that look like:
... these should be:
.. method:: File.close()
That is, use metadata instead of titles.
Add more links -- nearly everything that's an inline code literal right now can probably be turned into a xref.
See the literals_to_xrefs.py file in _ext -- it's a shell script to help do this work.
This will probably be a continuing, never-ending project.
Add info field lists where appropriate.
Add .. code-block:: <lang> to literal blocks so that they get highlighted.
Some hints for making things look/read better:
Whenever possible, use links. So, use :setting:`ADMIN_FOR` instead of ``ADMIN_FOR``.
Some directives (.. setting::, for one) are prefix-style directives; they go before the unit they're describing. These are known as "crossref" directives. Others (.. class::, e.g.) generate their own markup; these should go inside the section they're describing. These are called "description units".
You can tell which are which by looking at in _ext/djangodocs.py; it registers roles as one of the other.
When referring to classes/functions/modules, etc., you'll want to use the fully-qualified name of the target (:class:`django.contrib.contenttypes.models.ContentType`).
Since this doesn't look all that awesome in the output -- it shows the entire path to the object -- you can prefix the target with a ~ (that's a tilde) to get just the "last bit" of that path. So :class:`~django.contrib.contenttypes.models.ContentType` will just display a link with the title "ContentType".