Jun 22, 2009

sphinx autodoc and django app

Today I have been getting my foot wet with autodoc extension from sphinx. Here it is what the documentation of sphinx say about it :

Sphinx is a tool that makes it easy to create intelligent and beautiful documentation, written by Georg Brandl and licensed under the BSD license.

I have to say that before today my experience with sphinx as been excellent. It is relatively straightforward to get started once you pass the first little annoyances that come with the fact that you are learning a new tool.

The module I have been using to conduct this experiment is django-geotagging this reusable app enables you to geotag any object in the database. If you want to know more about this you can read the sphinx based documentation. This is the goal of the documentation, isn't it ? :-)
If adding a manually written documentation is very easy and well documented. The modification required to move from a very primitive documentation written using some rst file to sphinx is shown here. Most of it is automatically generated by : sphinx-quickstart.

Taking it a step further have been more difficult than anticipated and this for several reasons : lack of example, and a bug
Today I wanted to add to the existing documentation in django-geotagging and API section. In order to do so I have spoted in the sphinx documentation an extension called autodoc. It seems to be exactly what I need, here it is an extract from its doc :

This extension can import the modules you are documenting, and pull in documentation from docstrings in a semi-automatic way.

The first modification I add to do in sphinx's conf.py was to setup the settings in my environment. This can be done by adding the following 3 lines to conf.py

from geotagging_demo_project import settings
from django.core.management import setup_environ

Once this is done you should just be able to create a file that will be used as placeholder to describe the documentation you want to extract. Let us take an example now, since I want to describe the API of "models.py" I am going to create a file called "model.rst". In this file I need to add the following lines :

:mod:`models` -- geotag models

.. automodule:: geotags.models

.. autoclass:: Point

I will let you read the documentation for each of this directive to understand what they are doing. This is were the bug come into play because once you have done this you should be able to enjoy the automatically extrated documentation the next time you build it. Instead of this I have observed this bug. To put it in a nutshell sphinx is complaining about the line 27 of

I am not really sure where the bug is however it seems that doing a small modification there enable me to build the documentation.

I hope that this feedback about my experience will help you to get started with using sphinx and its autodoc extension. If you have an opinion about the django ticket #11353 I am very interested to hear it.
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