Documentation Rules


All code must be documented and we follow the style conventions described here:

Referring to other code

To link to methods, classes, or modules in your repo you have to use backticks, for example:


generates a link like this:

Links can also be generated to external packages via intersphinx:


will return this link: numpy.mean. This works for Python, Numpy and Astropy (full list is in docs/

With Sphinx, if you use :func: or :meth:, it will add closing brackets to the link. If you get the wrong pre-qualifier, it will break the link, so we suggest that you double check if what you are linking is a method or a function.


will return two broken links (“class” and “meth”) but “func” will work.

Project-specific Rules

  • For all RST files, we enforce a one sentence per line rule and ignore the line length.


All of the documentation (like this page) is built by Sphinx, which is a tool especially well-suited for documenting Python projects. Sphinx works by parsing files written using a a Mediawiki-like syntax called reStructuredText. It can also parse markdown files. In addition to parsing static files of reStructuredText, Sphinx can also be told to parse code comments. In fact, in addition to what you are reading right now, the Python documentation was also created using Sphinx.

Usage and Building the documentation

All of the documentation is contained in the “docs” folder and code documentation strings. Sphinx builds documentation iteratively, only adding things that have changed. For more information on how to use Sphinx, consult the Sphinx documentation.


To build the html documentation locally use the following command, in the docs directory run:

$ make html

This will generate HTML documentation in the “docs/_build/html” directory. You can open the “index.html” file to browse the final product.

If you’d like to rebuild the documentation from scratch. This is normally not necessary since Sphinx will detect and only build the required changes. But if you are running into strange errors you may want to try this. The following command will wipe all generated files.

$ make clean

Sphinx can also build documentation as a PDF but this requires latex to be installed.