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Watch directories for changes to RST files and generate HTML

Project description


David Handy <>

This simple static website generator scans directories for .rst files (text files in reStructuredText format) and converts them to HTML documents using docutils. By default it runs continuously. Whenever an .rst file (or a file included by an .rst file) is added or changed, the associated .html file is immediately created or re-generated.


  • In your web content directory run: rstwatch .

  • Create an .rst file in that directory, e.g. named index.rst

  • Immediately a file named index.html appears in that same directory

  • Point your web browser to the index.html file

  • In your editor window, make a change to index.rst and save it

  • In your browser window, hit the refresh button

  • Boom! You see your changes, converted to HTML, right away

  • When you are done, press Ctrl-C to stop rstwatch

You can use rstwatch to learn and experiment with docutils and the reStructuredText format. This can be a stepping-stone to using a more complicated, fully-featured document generation system based on docutils, such as Sphinx.

Installation Instructions

rstwatch is an open source program written in the Python programming language. (See the license.)

First, install Python if you haven’t already. It is freely available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux (it is likely already installed on MacOS or Linux.)

Next, install rstwatch from the Python Package Index using the pip command:

pip install rstwatch

The source code is hosted at:


rstwatch [options] <directory>...



Exit after first pass, instead of repeat scanning


Seconds to delay between directory scans [default: 2.0]


(Optional) Custom logging configuration file


Regenerate all html files on first scan


Docutils writer name. [default: html5]

For the (optional) log configuration file format, see:

Example log config file: log-config.ini

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rstwatch-1.0.3.tar.gz (11.0 kB view hashes)

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rstwatch-1.0.3-py2.py3-none-any.whl (8.6 kB view hashes)

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