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A configurable sidebar-enabled Sphinx theme

Project description

This theme is a modified “Kr” Sphinx theme from @kennethreitz (especially as used in his Requests project), which was itself originally based on @mitsuhiko’s theme used for Flask & related projects.

Live examples of this theme can be seen on, and


Specifically, as compared to Kenneth’s theme:

  • Easy ability to install/use as a Python package (tip o’ the hat to Dave & Eric’s sphinx_rtd_theme for showing the way);

  • Style tweaks, such as better code-block alignment, Gratipay and Github button placement, page source link moved to footer, etc;

  • Many customization hooks, including toggle of various sidebar & footer components; header/link/etc color control; etc;

  • Improved documentation for all customizations (pre-existing & new).


The bare minimum required to install is as follows:

  1. pip install alabaster (or equivalent).

  2. Enable the ‘alabaster’ theme, mini-extension, and sidebar templates in your

    import alabaster
    html_theme_path = [alabaster.get_path()]
    extensions = ['alabaster']
    html_theme = 'alabaster'
    html_sidebars = {
        '**': [
            'about.html', 'navigation.html', 'searchbox.html', 'donate.html',

That’s it! You now have the standard Alabaster theme set up. Read on for more configuration options/concerns.

Theme location

The function alabaster.get_path dynamically returns Alabaster’s install location, ensuring that Sphinx can find and load it regardless of where/how you installed Alabaster. Using it is highly recommended.

If you’ve manually installed Alabaster and/or are doing funky things to your PYTHONPATH, you may need to replace the alabaster.get_path() call with your own explicit string, as per the Sphinx config docs.


If you’re using either of the image-related options outlined below (logo or touch-icon), you’ll also want to tell Sphinx where to get your images from. If so, add a line like this (changing the path if necessary; see the Sphinx docs for ‘html_static_path’):

html_static_path = ['_static']

Theme options

Alabaster’s primary configuration route is the html_theme_options variable, set in alongside the rest. A brief example (note: snippet doesn’t include all possible options, see following list!):

html_theme_options = {
    'logo': 'logo.png',
    'github_user': 'bitprophet',
    'github_repo': 'alabaster',

Variables and feature toggles

  • logo: Relative path (from $PROJECT/_static/) to a logo image, which will appear in the upper left corner above the name of the project.

    • If logo is not set, your project name setting (from the top level Sphinx config) will be used in a text header instead. This preserves a link back to your homepage from inner doc pages.

  • logo_name: Set to true to insert your site’s project name under the logo image as text. Useful if your logo doesn’t include the project name itself. Defaults to false.

  • logo_text_align: Which CSS text-align value to use for logo text (if there is any.)

  • description: Text blurb about your project, to appear under the logo.

  • github_user, github_repo: Used by github_button and github_banner (see below); does nothing if both of those are set to false.

  • github_button: true or false (default: true) - whether to link to your Github.

    • If true, requires that you set github_user and github_repo.

    • See also these other related options, which behave as described in Github Buttons’ README:

      • github_button_type: Defaults to watch.

      • github_button_count: Defaults to true.

  • github_banner: true or false (default: false) - whether to apply a ‘Fork me on Github’ banner in the top right corner of the page.

    • If true, requires that you set github_user and github_repo.

  • travis_button: true, false or a Github-style "account/repo" string - used to display a Travis-CI build status button in the sidebar. If true, uses your github_(user|repo) settings; defaults to false.

  • gratipay_user: Set to your Gratipay username if you want a Gratipay ‘Donate’ section in your sidebar.

    • This used to be gittip_user before that service changed its name to Gratipay; we’ve left the old setting in place as an alias for backwards compatibility reasons. It may be removed in the future.

    • If both options are given, gratipay_user wins.

  • analytics_id: Set to your Google Analytics ID (e.g. UA-#######-##) to enable tracking.

  • touch_icon: Path to an image (as with logo, relative to $PROJECT/_static/) to be used for an iOS application icon, for when pages are saved to an iOS device’s home screen via Safari.

  • extra_nav_links: Dictionary mapping link names to link targets; these will be added in a UL below the main sidebar navigation (provided you’ve enabled navigation.html.) Useful for static links outside your Sphinx doctree.

  • sidebar_includehidden: Boolean determining whether the TOC sidebar should include hidden Sphinx toctree elements. Defaults to true so you can use :hidden: in your index page’s root toctree & avoid having 2x copies of your navigation on your landing page.

  • show_powered_by: Boolean controlling display of the Powered by Sphinx N.N.N. & Alabaster M.M.M section of the footer. When True, is displayed next to the copyright information; when False, is hidden.

Style colors

These should be fully qualified CSS color specifiers such as #004B6B or #444. The first few items in the list are “global” colors used as defaults for many of the others; update these to make sweeping changes to the colorscheme. The more granular settings can be used to override as needed.

  • gray_1: Dark gray.

  • gray_2: Light gray.

  • gray_3: Medium gray.

  • pink_1: Light pink.

  • pink_2: Medium pink.

  • body_text: Main content text.

  • footer_text: Footer text (includes links.)

  • link: Non-hovered body links.

  • link_hover: Body links, hovered.

  • sidebar_header: Sidebar headers. Defaults to gray_1.

  • sidebar_text: Sidebar paragraph text.

  • sidebar_link: Sidebar links (there is no hover variant.) Applies to both header & text links. Defaults to gray_1.

  • sidebar_link_underscore: Sidebar links’ underline (technically a bottom-border).

  • sidebar_search_button: Background color of the search field’s ‘Go’ button.

  • sidebar_list: Foreground color of sidebar list bullets & unlinked text.

  • sidebar_hr: Color of sidebar horizontal rule dividers. Defaults to gray_3.

  • anchor: Foreground color of section anchor links (the ‘paragraph’ symbol that shows up when you mouseover page section headers.)

  • anchor_hover_fg: Foreground color of section anchor links (as above) when moused over. Defaults to gray_1.

  • anchor_hover_bg: Background color of above.

  • note_bg: Background of .. note:: blocks. Defaults to gray_2.

  • note_border: Border of same.

  • warn_bg: Background of .. warn:: blocks. Defaults to pink_1.

  • warn_border: Border of same. Defaults to pink_2.

  • footnote_bg: Background of footnote blocks.

  • footnote_border: Border of same. Defaults to gray_2.

  • pre_bg: Background of preformatted text blocks (including code snippets.) Defaults to gray_2.

  • narrow_sidebar_bg: Background of ‘sidebar’ when narrow window forces it to the bottom of the page.

  • narrow_sidebar_fg: Text color of same.

  • narrow_sidebar_link: Link color of same. Defaults to gray_3.

Additional info / background

  • Fabric #419 contains a lot of general exposition & thoughts as I developed Alabaster, specifically with a mind towards using it on two nearly identical ‘sister’ sites (single-version www ‘info’ site & versioned API docs site).

  • Alabaster includes/requires a tiny Sphinx extension on top of the theme itself; this is just so we can inject dynamic metadata (like Alabaster’s own version number) into template contexts. It doesn’t add any additional directives or the like, at least not yet.

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