How to write documentation

We care a lot about documentation. So this chapter is both about technical reference and guidelines.

Markup language

Documentation is written using restructuredText; it’s a very rich markup language, so learning it all may be difficult. You can start reading a quick guide; you can then pass to a slightly longest guide.

As with all the code, you can learn much just reading pre-existing one. So go to next section and you’ll know where it is placed.

Documentation directory

Documentation is placed in doc/source/ in libreant repository. Yes, it’s just a bunch of .rst files. The main one is index.rst, and hist main part is the toctree directive; the list below it specifies the order in which to include all the other pages.


If you are trying to add a new page to the documentation, remember to add its filename to the toctree in index.rst

To build html documentation from it, you should first of all pip install Sphinx inside your virtualenv. Then you can run python build_sphinx. This command will create documentation inside build/sphinx/html/. So run firefox build/sphinx/html/index.html and you can read it.

See also


Documenting code

If you are a developer, you know that well-documented code is very important: it makes newcomers more comfortable hacking your project, it helps clarifying what’s the goal of the code you are writing and how other parts of the project should use it. Keep in mind that libreant must be easily hackable, and the code should be kept reusable at all levels as much as possible.

Since 99% of libreant code is Python, we’ll focus on it, and especially on python docstrings.

If you are writing a new module, or anyway creating a new file, the “module docstring” (that is, the docstring just at the start of the file) should explain what this module is useful for, which kind of objects will it contain, and clarify any possible caveat.

The same principle applies to classes and, to a lesser degree, to methods. If a class docstring is complete enough, it can be the case that function docstring is redundant. Even in that case, you should at least be very careful in giving meaningful names to function parameters: they help a lot, and come for free!