Georg Brandl committed 1cdeb5e

Fix #58: Add extension tutorial and better docs on where to put extensions.

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File doc/ext/tutorial.rst

+.. _exttut:
+Tutorial: Writing a simple extension
+This section is intended as a walkthrough for the creation of custom extensions.
+It covers the basics of writing and activating an extensions, as well as
+commonly used features of extensions.
+As an example, we will cover a "todo" extension that adds capabilities to
+include todo entries in the documentation, and collecting these in a central
+place.  (A similar "todo" extension is distributed with Sphinx.)
+Build Phases
+One thing that is vital in order to understand extension mechanisms is the way
+in which a Sphinx project is built: this works in several phases.
+**Phase 0: Initialization**
+   In this phase, almost nothing interesting for us happens.  The source
+   directory is searched for source files, and extensions are initialized.
+   Should a stored build environment exist, it is loaded, otherwise a new one is
+   created.
+**Phase 1: Reading**
+   In Phase 1, all source files (and on subsequent builds, those that are new or
+   changed) are read and parsed.  This is the phase where directives and roles
+   are encountered by the docutils, and the corresponding functions are called.
+   The output of this phase is a *doctree* for each source files, that is a tree
+   of docutils nodes.  For document elements that aren't fully known until all
+   existing files are read, temporary nodes are created.
+   During reading, the build environment is updated with all meta- and cross
+   reference data of the read documents, such as labels, the names of headings,
+   described Python objects and index entries.  This will later be used to
+   replace the temporary nodes.
+   The parsed doctrees are stored on the disk, because it is not possible to
+   hold all of them in memory.
+**Phase 2: Consistency checks**
+   Some checking is done to ensure no surprises in the built documents.
+**Phase 3: Resolving**
+   Now that the metadata and cross-reference data of all existing documents is
+   known, all temporary nodes are replaced by nodes that can be converted into
+   output.  For example, links are created for object references that exist, and
+   simple literal nodes are created for those that don't.
+**Phase 4: Writing**
+   This phase converts the resolved doctrees to the desired output format, such
+   as HTML or LaTeX.  This happens via a so-called docutils writer that visits
+   the individual nodes of each doctree and produces some output in the process.
+.. note::
+   Some builders deviate from this general build plan, for example, the builder
+   that checks external links does not need anything more than the parsed
+   doctrees and therefore does not have phases 2--4.
+Extension Design
+We want the extension to add the following to Sphinx:
+* A "todo" directive, containing some content that is marked with "TODO", and
+  only shown in the output if a new config value is set.  (Todo entries should
+  not be in the output by default.)
+* A "todolist" directive that creates a list of all todo entries throughout the
+  documentation.
+For that, we will need to add the following elements to Sphinx:
+* New directives, called ``todo`` and ``todolist``.
+* New document tree nodes to represent these directives, conventionally also
+  called ``todo`` and ``todolist``.  We wouldn't need new nodes if the new
+  directives only produced some content representable by existing nodes.
+* A new config value ``todo_include_todos`` (config value names should start
+  with the extension name, in order to stay unique) that controls whether todo
+  entries make it into the output.
+* New event handlers: one for the :event:`doctree-resolved` event, to replace
+  the todo and todolist nodes, and one for :event:`env-purge-doc` (the reason
+  for that will be covered later).
+The Setup Function
+.. currentmodule:: sphinx.application
+The new elements are added in the extension's setup function.  Let us create a
+new Python module called :file:`` and add the setup function::
+   def setup(app):
+       app.add_config_value('todo_include_todos', False, False)
+       app.add_node(todolist)
+       app.add_node(todo,
+                    html=(visit_todo_node, depart_todo_node),
+                    latex=(visit_todo_node, depart_todo_node),
+                    text=(visit_todo_node, depart_todo_node))
+       app.add_directive('todo', todo_directive, 1, (0, 0, 1))
+       app.add_directive('todolist', todolist_directive, 0, (0, 0, 0))
+       app.connect('doctree-resolved', process_todo_nodes)
+       app.connect('env-purge-doc', purge_todos)
+The calls in this function refer to classes and functions not yet written.  What
+the individual calls do is the following:
+* :meth:`~Sphinx.add_config_value` lets Sphinx know that it should recognize the
+  new *config value* ``todo_include_todos``, whose default value should be
+  ``False`` (this also tells Sphinx that it is a boolean value).
+  If the third argument was ``True``, all documents would be re-read if the
+  config value changed its value.  This is needed for config values that
+  influence reading (build phase 1).
+* :meth:`~Sphinx.add_node` adds a new *node class* to the build system.  It also
+  can specify visitor functions for each supported output format.  These visitor
+  functions are needed when the new nodes stay until phase 4 -- since the
+  ``todolist`` node is always replaced in phase 3, it doesn't need any.
+  We need to create the two node classes ``todo`` and ``todolist`` later.
+* :meth:`~Sphinx.add_directive` adds a new *directive*, given by name, handler
+  function and two arguments that specify if the directive has content and how
+  many arguments it accepts.
+  The handler functions are created later.
+* Finally, :meth:`~Sphinx.connect` adds an *event handler* to the event whose
+  name is given by the first argument.  The event handler function is called
+  with several arguments which are documented with the event.
+The Node Classes
+Let's start with the node classes::
+   from docutils import nodes
+   class todo(nodes.Admonition, nodes.Element):
+       pass
+   class todolist(nodes.General, nodes.Element):
+       pass
+   def visit_todo_node(self, node):
+       self.visit_admonition(node)
+   def depart_todo_node(self, node):
+       self.depart_admonition(node)
+Node classes usually don't have to do anything except inherit from the standard
+docutils classes defined in :mod:`docutils.nodes`.  ``todo`` inherits from
+``Admonition`` because it should be handled like a note or warning, ``todolist``
+is just a "general" node.
+The Directive Handlers
+A directive handler is a function with a host of arguments, covered in detail in
+the docutils documentation.  It must return a list of nodes.
+The ``todolist`` directive is quite simple::
+   def todolist_directive(name, arguments, options, content, lineno,
+                          content_offset, block_text, state, state_machine):
+       return [todolist('')]
+An instance of our ``todolist`` node class is created and returned.  The
+todolist directive has neither content nor arguments that need to be handled.
+The ``todo`` directive function looks like this::
+   from sphinx.util.compat import make_admonition
+   def todo_directive(name, arguments, options, content, lineno,
+                      content_offset, block_text, state, state_machine):
+       env = state.document.settings.env
+       targetid = "todo-%s" % env.index_num
+       env.index_num += 1
+       targetnode ='', '', ids=[targetid])
+       ad = make_admonition(todo, name, [_('Todo')], options, content, lineno,
+                            content_offset, block_text, state, state_machine)
+       if not hasattr(env, 'todo_all_todos'):
+           env.todo_all_todos = []
+       env.todo_all_todos.append({
+           'docname': env.docname,
+           'lineno': lineno,
+           'todo': ad[0].deepcopy(),
+           'target': targetnode,
+       })
+       return [targetnode] + ad
+Several important things are covered here. First, as you can see, you can refer
+to the build environment instance using ``state.document.settings.env``.
+Then, to act as a link target (from the todolist), the todo directive needs to
+return a target node in addition to the todo node.  The target ID (in HTML, this
+will be the anchor name) is generated by using ``env.index_num`` which is
+persistent between directive calls and therefore leads to unique target names.
+The target node is instantiated without any text (the first two arguments).
+An admonition is created using a standard docutils function (wrapped in Sphinx
+for docutils cross-version compatibility).  The first argument gives the node
+class, in our case ``todo``.  The third argument gives the admonition title (use
+``arguments`` here to let the user specify the title).  A list of nodes is
+returned from ``make_admonition``.
+Then, the todo node is added to the environment.  This is needed to be able to
+create a list of all todo entries throughout the documentation, in the place
+where the author puts a ``todolist`` directive.  For this case, the environment
+attribute ``todo_all_todos`` is used (again, the name should be unique, so it is
+prefixed by the extension name).  It does not exist when a new environment is
+created, so the directive must check and create it if necessary.  Various
+information about the todo entry's location are stored along with a copy of the
+In the last line, the nodes that should be put into the doctree are returned:
+the target node and the admonition node.
+The Event Handlers
+Finally, let's look at the event handlers.  First, the one for the
+:event:`env-purge-doc` event::
+   def purge_todos(app, env, docname):
+       if not hasattr(env, 'todo_all_todos'):
+           return
+       env.todo_all_todos = [todo for todo in env.todo_all_todos
+                             if todo['docname'] != docname]
+Since we store information from source files in the environment, which is
+persistent, it may become out of date when the source file changes.  Therefore,
+before each source file is read, the environment's records of it are cleared,
+and the :event:`env-purge-doc` event gives extensions a chance to do the same.
+Here we clear out all todos whose docname matches the given one from the
+``todo_all_todos`` list.  If there are todos left in the document, they will be
+added again during parsing.
+The other handler belongs to the :event:`doctree-resolved` event.  This event is
+emitted at the end of phase 3 and allows custom resolving to be done::
+   def process_todo_nodes(app, doctree, fromdocname):
+       if not app.config.todo_include_todos:
+           for node in doctree.traverse(todo_node):
+               node.parent.remove(node)
+       # Replace all todolist nodes with a list of the collected todos.
+       # Augment each todo with a backlink to the original location.
+       env = app.builder.env
+       for node in doctree.traverse(todolist):
+           if not app.config.todo_include_todos:
+               node.replace_self([])
+               continue
+           content = []
+           for todo_info in env.todo_all_todos:
+               para = nodes.paragraph()
+               filename = env.doc2path(todo_info['docname'], base=None)
+               description = (
+                   _('(The original entry is located in %s, line %d and can be found ') %
+                   (filename, todo_info['lineno']))
+               para += nodes.Text(description, description)
+               # Create a reference
+               newnode = nodes.reference('', '')
+               innernode = nodes.emphasis(_('here'), _('here'))
+               newnode['refdocname'] = todo_info['docname']
+               newnode['refuri'] = app.builder.get_relative_uri(
+                   fromdocname, todo_info['docname'])
+               newnode['refuri'] += '#' + todo_info['target']['refid']
+               newnode.append(innernode)
+               para += newnode
+               para += nodes.Text('.)', '.)')
+               # Insert into the todolist
+               content.append(todo_info['todo'])
+               content.append(para)
+           node.replace_self(content)
+It is a bit more involved.  If our new "todo_include_todos" config value is
+false, all todo and todolist nodes are removed from the documents.
+If not, todo nodes just stay where and how they are.  Todolist nodes are
+replaced by a list of todo entries, complete with backlinks to the location
+where they come from.  The list items are composed of the nodes from the todo
+entry and docutils nodes created on the fly: a paragraph for each entry,
+containing text that gives the location, and a link (reference node containing
+an italic node) with the backreference.  The reference URI is built by
+``app.builder.get_relative_uri`` which creates a suitable URI depending on the
+used builder, and appending the todo node's (the target's) ID as the anchor

File doc/extensions.rst

 Since many projects will need special features in their documentation, Sphinx is
 designed to be extensible on several levels.
-First, you can add new :term:`builder`\s to support new output formats or
-actions on the parsed documents.  Then, it is possible to register custom
-reStructuredText roles and directives, extending the markup.  And finally, there
-are so-called "hook points" at strategic places throughout the build process,
-where an extension can register a hook and run specialized code.
+This is what you can do in an extension: First, you can add new
+:term:`builder`\s to support new output formats or actions on the parsed
+documents.  Then, it is possible to register custom reStructuredText roles and
+directives, extending the markup.  And finally, there are so-called "hook
+points" at strategic places throughout the build process, where an extension can
+register a hook and run specialized code.
-The configuration file itself can be an extension, see the :confval:`extensions`
-configuration value docs.
+An extension is simply a Python module.  When an extension is loaded, Sphinx
+imports this module and executes its ``setup()`` function, which in turn
+notifies Sphinx of everything the extension offers -- see the extension tutorial
+for examples.
+The configuration file itself can be treated as an extension if it contains a
+``setup()`` function.  All other extensions to load must be listed in the
+:confval:`extensions` configuration value.
 .. toctree::
+   ext/tutorial
 There are several extensions that are not (yet) maintained in the Sphinx
 distribution.  The `Wiki at BitBucket`_ maintains a list of those.
+If you write an extension that you think others will find useful, please write
+to the project mailing list ( and we'll find the
+proper way of including or hosting it for the public.
 .. _Wiki at BitBucket:
+Where to put your own extensions?
+Extensions local to a project should be put within the project's directory
+structure.  Set Python's module search path, ``sys.path``, accordingly so that
+Sphinx can find them.
+E.g., if your extension ```` lies in the ``exts`` subdirectory of the
+project root, put into :file:``::
+   import sys, os
+   sys.path.append(os.path.abspath('exts'))
+   extensions = ['foo']
+You can also install extensions anywhere else on ``sys.path``, e.g. in the
+``site-packages`` directory.