Sphinx Configuration

Previously, we saw that conf.py is the configuration file that Sphinx calls whenever a make command is called. Now it’s time we made some configuration changes. Let’s locate and edit the conf.py file:

youruser@yourpc:~yourWorkspacePath/simpleble-master/docs$ cd source
youruser@yourpc:~yourWorkspacePath/simpleble-master/docs/source$ nano conf.py

There are two things we need to tweak, while we have conf.py open, before we proceed to build our documentation.

Theme configuration

The first thing we want to do is to configure Sphinx to use the RTD theme we previously installed (see Installation step). We do this by finding the line that sets the configuration variable html_theme and we modify it as follows:

html_theme = 'sphinx_rtd_theme'

Note that there exist numerous other nice themes out there, so if you’re not particularly interested in publishing to RTD then you can choose (or even create) any theme that suits your needs. We chose sphinx_rtd_theme since we do want to publish to RTD, plus it is generally quite a nice and clear theme to read.

Autodoc configuration

Continuing, if we want Sphinx to autogenerate documentation from the comments of our code using the autodoc extension, we have to point Sphinx to the directory in which our Python source codes reside. This can be done by uncommenting and altering the following lines, which are generally found at the top of the file:

import os
import sys
sys.path.insert(0, os.path.abspath('../../simpleble/'))

Notice how we altered the path specified in line 3 (highlighted). This is because our conf.py file is located in simpleble-master/docs/source, while our Python source codes, in this case the file simpleble.py, are located inside simpleble-master/simpleble. This means that when Sphinx is looking for our source codes, it now knows that it must go two directories up from conf.by (indicated by the ../../ part of the absolute path) and inside the folder simpleble-master/simpleble. This is equivalent to adding the directory of our Python source files to PYTHONPATH.

It is important to note here that the absolute path must be specified in relation to where conf.py resides, i.e. our `Sphinx source root`, rather than in relation to the `Documentation root`.

Next, we proceed by creating a requirements.txt file in the root directory of our repository, which lists any dependecies of our package. In our case, simpleble depends on a package named bluepy which can be generally installed by calling sudo pip install bluepy.

Create and open the requirements.txt file:

youruser@yourpc:~yourWorkspacePath/simpleble-master/docs/source$ cd ../..
youruser@yourpc:~yourWorkspacePath/simpleble-master$ nano requirements.txt

Then type the following on the first line of the file:


Save and close the file (Ctrl+X -> Enter -> Y -> Enter).

Apart from specifying the dependencies of our package, the requirements.txt file can be used to batch install any such dependencies by calling sudo pip install -r requirements.txt. For more information on requirements files, you can have a look at pip’s documentation.

We will later also use the requirements.txt file when configuring the building process of our ReadTheDocs documentation. If we didn’t have the requirements file, then ReadTheDocs would fail to run autodoc in order to generate our documentation from the comments in our source code. In other words, when building our documentation, RTD calls a pip install -r requirements.txt, which installs any requirements in a virtual environment, which is then where sphinx-apidoc is run.