The Django admin documentation generator

Django’s admindocs app pulls documentation from the docstrings of models, views, template tags, and template filters for any app in INSTALLED_APPS and makes that documentation available from the Django admin.

You may, to some extent, utilize admindocs to quickly document your own code. This has limited usage, however, as the app is primarily intended for documenting templates, template tags, and filters. For example, model methods that require arguments are purposefully omitted from the documentation because they can’t be invoked from templates. The app can still be useful since it doesn’t require you to write any extra documentation (besides docstrings) and is conveniently available from the Django admin.

Overview

To activate the admindocs, you will need to do the following:

  • Add django.contrib.admindocs to your INSTALLED_APPS.
  • Add (r'^admin/doc/', include('django.contrib.admindocs.urls')) to your urlpatterns. Make sure it’s included before the r'^admin/' entry, so that requests to /admin/doc/ don’t get handled by the latter entry.
  • Install the docutils Python module (http://docutils.sf.net/).
  • Optional: Using the admindocs bookmarklets requires django.contrib.admindocs.middleware.XViewMiddleware to be installed.

Once those steps are complete, you can start browsing the documentation by going to your admin interface and clicking the “Documentation” link in the upper right of the page.

Documentation helpers

The following special markup can be used in your docstrings to easily create hyperlinks to other components:

Django Component reStructuredText roles
Models :model:`app_label.ModelName`
Views :view:`app_label.view_name`
Template tags :tag:`tagname`
Template filters :filter:`filtername`
Templates :template:`path/to/template.html`

Model reference

The models section of the admindocs page describes each model in the system along with all the fields and methods (without any arguments) available on it. While model properties don’t have any arguments, they are not listed. Relationships to other models appear as hyperlinks. Descriptions are pulled from help_text attributes on fields or from docstrings on model methods.

A model with useful documentation might look like this:

class BlogEntry(models.Model):
    """
    Stores a single blog entry, related to :model:`blog.Blog` and
    :model:`auth.User`.
    """
    slug = models.SlugField(help_text="A short label, generally used in URLs.")
    author = models.ForeignKey(
        User,
        models.SET_NULL,
        blank=True, null=True,
    )
    blog = models.ForeignKey(Blog, models.CASCADE)
    ...

    def publish(self):
        """Makes the blog entry live on the site."""
        ...

View reference

Each URL in your site has a separate entry in the admindocs page, and clicking on a given URL will show you the corresponding view. Helpful things you can document in your view function docstrings include:

  • A short description of what the view does.
  • The context, or a list of variables available in the view’s template.
  • The name of the template or templates that are used for that view.

For example:

from django.shortcuts import render

from myapp.models import MyModel

def my_view(request, slug):
    """
    Display an individual :model:`myapp.MyModel`.

    **Context**

    ``mymodel``
        An instance of :model:`myapp.MyModel`.

    **Template:**

    :template:`myapp/my_template.html`
    """
    context = {'mymodel': MyModel.objects.get(slug=slug)}
    return render(request, 'myapp/my_template.html', context)

Template tags and filters reference

The tags and filters admindocs sections describe all the tags and filters that come with Django (in fact, the built-in tag reference and built-in filter reference documentation come directly from those pages). Any tags or filters that you create or are added by a third-party app will show up in these sections as well.

Template reference

While admindocs does not include a place to document templates by themselves, if you use the :template:`path/to/template.html` syntax in a docstring the resulting page will verify the path of that template with Django’s template loaders. This can be a handy way to check if the specified template exists and to show where on the filesystem that template is stored.

Included Bookmarklets

One bookmarklet is available from the admindocs page:

Documentation for this page
Jumps you from any page to the documentation for the view that generates that page.

Using this bookmarklet requires that XViewMiddleware is installed and that you are logged into the Django admin as a User with is_staff set to True.

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