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A custom Sphinx builder to make asciidoc output

Project description


Sphinx is used to build documentation from reST source files using Docutils. While there are many Sphinx output writers, such as html, ePub, and LaTex, there has been no conversion tool available to convert Sphinx based reST documentation to asciidoc files. Some of the open source projects, such as Pandoc, do not understand most of the Sphinx directives and are only able to proceed the simple reST format.

The following is my attempt to write an AsciiDoc extension for Sphinx and Docutils that would be able to serve as a builder and writer for Sphinx, as well as a simple reST to AsciiDoc convertor.

It uses Python 2.7 and 3.

Standalone usage

You can also use the ./asciidoc/ as a simple convertor of single reST files based on docutils reST format.

To convert a reST file to asciidoc:

python file.rst

When the script finishes, it creates a new asciidoc file with the same name and the .adoc extension.

Current status

The extension is now a beta 0.9.1 version. It understands the majority of Docutils markup and produces a usable asciidoc format, that can be processed with Asciidoctor. However, there are improvements needed.

Note, that the convertor includes files with include:: directives, that is it puts their content directly into the referencing file. The convertor does not preserve individual files for included content.

The conversion may fail because of NotImplemented Error that is caused when the convertor does not understand how to interpret a Sphinx directive. Some of the nodes are only partially implemented. They do not throw out an error, but they do not know how to convert the content either. Instead, they pass the content as plain text and wrap it with the name of the directive, so that users know where the conversion fails.

If you experience such troubles, please report this in the issues of this Github project ( and describe which directive is not rendered and how do you think it should be rendered in asciidoc or how should the html rendering from Asciidoctor look like.

Future improvements

In the future, I will try to focus on:

  1. implementation of formatting features of the nodes that only produce plain text,
  2. implement the not yet implemented Sphinx and Docutils nodes, so that the AsciiDoc files use all possible features of the original reST and Sphinx format,
  3. improve the visitors (conversion functions) so that the AsciiDoc output is always flawless and possibly error free.

Installing the sphinx_asciidoc package

The package is in PyPI. To install it:

pip3 install sphinx_asciidoc

Now, you should be able to use it.

Using the asciidoc builder

When building the documentation from the source files, choose the asciidoc builder with the -b option:

sphinx-build -b asciidoc ./source ./build

The built documentation is placed in the ./build/asciidoc directory.


You can already use the software, but you shall take it as not fully developed, so there still may be problems and some features may not work properly or at all.

Project details

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