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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

A changelog can be found at the bottom of this page.

Alabaster is Python 2+3 compatible.


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.

  • description_font_style: Which CSS font-style to use for description text. Defaults to normal.

  • 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.
    • May also submit a string file path (as with logo, relative to $PROJECT/_static/) to be used as the banner image instead of the default.
  • 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.
  • seealso_bg: Background of .. seealso:: blocks. Defaults to gray_2.
  • seealso_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.


  • font_family: Font family of body text. Defaults to 'goudy old style', 'minion pro', 'bell mt', Georgia, 'Hiragino Mincho Pro', serif.
  • head_font_family: Font family of headings. Defaults to 'Garamond', 'Georgia', serif.
  • code_font_size: Font size of code block text. Defaults to 0.9em.
  • code_font_family: Font family of code block text. Defaults to 'Consolas', 'Menlo', 'Deja Vu Sans Mono', 'Bitstream Vera Sans Mono', monospace.

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.


0.7.1 (2015-02-27)


There is no 0.7.0, there was some PyPI fun and replacing sdists isn’t permitted :)

  • Finally add a changelog. To the README, for now, because a full doc site isn’t worthwhile just yet.
  • Allow configuring a custom Github banner image (instead of simply toggling a default on or off). Thanks to Nicola Iarocci for the original patch.
  • Explicitly note Python version support in the README and
  • Update Github button image link to use the newly-available HTTPS version of the URL; this helps prevent errors on doc pages served via HTTPS. Thanks to Gustavo Narea for the report.
  • Add control over the font size & family of code blocks. Credit to Steven Loria.
  • Allow control over font family of body text and headings. Thanks to Georg Brandl.
  • Stylize .. seealso:: blocks same as .. note:: blocks for consistency’s sake (previously, .. seealso:: used the Sphinx default styling, which clashed). We may update these again later but for now, this is an improvement! Thanks again to Steven Loria.
  • Allow control over CSS font-style for the site description/tagline element. Credit: Steven Loria.
  • Add styling to disable default cell borders on .. bibliography:: directives’ output. Thanks to Philippe Dessus for the report.

0.6.3 (2015-01-19)

  • Fix outdated documentation bit re: installation and theme folder location.
  • Migrate this README to ReStructured Text from Markdown, so that our PyPI page isn’t fugly :) This also includes a reorganization of the README to address readability.

0.6.2 (2014-11-25)

  • Make .. warn:: blocks have a pink background (instead of having no background, which was apparently an oversight of the themes Alabaster is based on) and also make that color configurable.

0.6.1 (2014-09-04)

  • Update Gittip support to acknowledge the service’s rename to Gratipay.

0.6.0 (2014-04-17)

  • Allow hiding the ‘powered by’ section of the footer.
  • Fix outdated name in URL field.

0.5.1 (2014-04-15)

  • Fix a bug in the new Travis support, re: its default value.

0.5.0 (2014-04-09)

  • Add support for sidebar Travis status buttons.

0.4.1 (2014-04-06)

  • Fix an inaccuracy in the descriptin of logo_text_align.
  • Update logo & text styling to be more sensible.

0.4.0 (2014-04-06)

  • Add an option to allow un-hiding one’s toctree.

0.3.1 (2014-03-13)

  • Improved Python 3 compatibility.
  • Update styling of changelog pages generated by bitprophet/releases.

0.3.0 (2014-02-03)

  • Display Alabaster version in footers alongside Sphinx version. (This necessitates using a mini Sphinx extension).
  • Other footer tweaks.

0.2.0 (2014-01-28)

  • Allow control of logo replacement text’s alignment.
  • Add customized navigation sidebar element.
  • Tweak page margins a bit.
  • Add a 3rd level of medium-gray to the stylesheet & apply in a few places.

0.1.0 (2013-12-31)

  • First tagged/PyPI’d version.

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