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Sphinx traceability extension (Melexis fork)

Project Description

Sphinx plugin that allows defining documentation items and relations between those items. Can be used as a requirements management tool for e.g. ISO26262 projects.


Define documentation items which can be linked to each other. E.g. define requirements which can be derived from other requirements, or linked to design items and test case descriptions.

Every item is an object in the documentation, which can have different relations to other objects in the documentation. Documentation objects can be spread in different documents.

Two kinds of relationships exist:

Internal relationships:
 Relationships between objects of the documentation (items). Once a (forward) relationship from item A to item B is defined, the reverse relationship from item B to item A is automatically generated by the plugin.
External relationships:
 Relationship from an object of the documentation (item), to an external reference (url of e.g. an external tool). As no item B exists, the reverse relationship is also not defined.

Relationship are configurable.

The plugin can generate

  • rendered versions of the defined documentation objects
  • flat lists of documentation objects
  • traceability matrices between objects


pip3 install mlx.traceability


The file contains the documentation configuration for your project. This file needs to be equipped in order to configure the traceability plugin.

First the plugin needs to be enabled in the extensions variable:

extensions = [

Valid relationships

Python variable traceability_relationsips can be defined in order to override the default configuration of the traceability plugin. It is a set of relationship pairs: the key is the name of the forward relationship, while the value holds the name of the corresponding reverse relationship.

Relationships with prefix ext_ are threated in a different way: they are handled as external relationships and don’t need a reverse relationship.

Example of internal and external relationship pairs:

traceability_relationships = {
    'validates': 'validated_by',
    'ext_polarion_reference': ''

Stringification of relationships

Python variable traceability_relationship_to_string can be defined in order to override the default configuration of the traceability plugin. It is a set of relationship stringifications: the key is the name of the (forward or reverse) relationship, while the value holds the string representation (as to be rendered in html) of the relationship.

Example of internal and external relationship stringification:

traceability_relationship_to_string = {
    'validates': 'Validates',
    'validated_by': 'Validated by',
    'ext_polarion_reference': 'Polarion reference'

External relationship to URL translation

External relationships need to be translated to URL’s while rendering. For each defined external relationship, an entry in the Python set named traceability_external_relationship_to_url is needed. The URL generation is templated using the fieldx keyword, where x is a number incrementing from 1 onwards for each value in the URL that needs to be replaced.

Example configuration of URL translation of external relationship using 2 fields:

traceability_external_relationship_to_url = {
    'ext_polarion_reference': '',

Rendering of relationships per documentation object

When rendering the documentation objects, the user has the option to include/exclude the rendering of the relationships to other documentation objects. This can be done through the Python variable traceability_render_relationship_per_item which is boolean: a value of ‘True’ will enable rendering of relationships per documentation object, while a value of ‘False’ will disable this rendering.

Example configuration of enable rendering relationships per item:

traceability_render_relationship_per_item = True

Callback per item (advanced)

The plugin allows parsing and modifying documentation objects ‘behind the scenes’ using a callback. The callback has this prototype:

def traceability_my_callback_per_item(name, all_items):
    Custom callback on items

    :param name: Name (id) of the item currently being parsed
    :param all_items: Set of all items that are parsed so far

The callback is executed while parsing the documentation item from your rst-file. Note that not all items are available at the time this callback executes, the all_items parameter is a growing set of documentation objects.

In some project this callback is used to assign a relation to an ASIL attribute (also a documentation object) to all of the requirements.

Example of no callback per item:

traceability_callback_per_item = None

Default config

The plugin itself holds a default config that can be used for any traceability documenting project:

traceability_callback_per_item = None
traceability_relationships = {
    'fulfills': 'fulfilled_by',
    'depends_on': 'impacts_on',
    'implements': 'implemented_by',
    'realizes': 'realized_by',
    'validates': 'validated_by',
    'trace': 'backtrace',
    'ext_toolname': ''
traceability_relationship_to_string = {
    'fulfills': 'Fulfills',
    'fulfilled_by': 'Fulfilled by',
    'depends_on': 'Depends on',
    'impacts_on': 'Impacts on',
    'implements': 'Implements',
    'implemented_by': 'Implemented by',
    'realizes': 'Realizes',
    'realized_by': 'Realized by',
    'validates': 'Validates',
    'validated_by': 'Validated by',
    'trace': 'Traces',
    'backtrace': 'Back traces',
    'ext_toolname': 'Referento to toolname'
traceability_external_relationship_to_url = {
    'ext_toolname': ''
traceability_render_relationship_per_item = False

This default configuration build into the plugin, can be overriden through the of your project.

For Melexis.SWCC silicon projects, the SWCC process holds a default configuration in the config/ file. For each of the above configuration variables, the default configuration file holds a variable with swcc_ prefix. Taking the default configuration is as easy as assiging the above configuration value with the swcc_ variable. Overriding a configuration is as easy as assigning your own values to a configuration value.

Example of accepting default configuration for relationships, while disabling (override) rendering of relationships per documentation object:

sys.path.insert(0, os.path.abspath('<path_to_process_submodule>/config'))

from traceability_config import swcc_traceability_relationships
from traceability_config import swcc_traceability_relationship_to_string

traceability_relationships = swcc_traceability_relationships
traceability_relationship_to_string = swcc_traceability_relationship_to_string
traceability_render_relationship_per_item = False


Defining documentation items

Documentation items can be defined using the item directive, specifying:

  • the name (id) of the documenation item
  • caption or short description of the documentation item
  • internal/external relationships to other documentation items (details in next paragraph)
  • content of documentation item including any rst content including text, images, formulas, code-blocks, etc.
.. item:: SWRQT-MY_FIRST_REQUIREMENT Caption of my first requirement
    :ext_polarion_reference: project_x:workitem_y

    According to the Polarion reference, the software **shall** implement my first requirement.

The relations to other documentation items can be specified as:

  • a space seperated list of item ID’s, or
  • items can be linked to on a newline (tabulated)
.. item:: SWRQT-MY_FIRST_REQUIREMENT Caption of my first requirement

Flat list of documentation items

A flat list of documentation items can be generated using a python regular expression filter:

.. item-list:: All software requirements
    :filter: SWRQT

where SWRQT (filter argument) can be replace by any python regular expression. Documentation items matching their ID to the given regular expression end up in the list.

Traceability matrix of documentation items

A traceability matrix of documentation items can be generated using:

.. item-matrix:: Requirements to test case description traceability
    :source: SWRQT
    :target: [IU]TEST
    :type: validated_by

where the source and target arguments can be replaced by any python regular expression. The type argument is a space-separated list of relationships that should be matched in the matrix.

Documentation items matching their ID to the given source regular expression end up in the left column of the generated table. Documentation items matching their ID to the given target regular expression with a matching relationship (see type argument) will end up in the right column of the generated table.

Documentation items tree-view

A tree-view of documentation items can be generated using:

.. item-tree:: Requirements tree view
    :top: SWRQT
    :top_relation_filter: depends_on
    :type: impacts_on validated_by

where the top argument can be replaced by any python regular expression. The top_relation_filter and type arguments are space-separated lists of relationships.

The directive generates an expandable tree of links to documentation items. A nested bullet list is generated with at the top level, the top level documentation items. These are the ones matching their ID to the top regular expression, and not having any relation of top_relation_filter kind to a documentation item matching the same top regular expression against its ID.

Going deeper down this nested bullet list, the items relationships are checked: if there is a type relationship (type is a space seperated list of relationships) it gets added as a one-level-deeper item in the nested bullet list. This action is repeated recursively.


The type is a list of relationships, which cannot hold the forward and reverse relationship of a pair. This would give endless repetition of the same nesting, and an endless recursion in python. The plugin checks the item-tree directives for this mistake!


The Melexis.SWCC process has a Guideline for documenting in Restructured Text (RST). It holds guidelines for using the traceability plugin with naming conventions, templates, etc.

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