Skip to main content

inspection-based documentation tool

Project description


'supdoc is a browser for API documentation automatically extracted from Python source code. Docstrings are among my favorite Python features, because they keep the documentation close to the code. This tool aims to extract code structure and docstrings, to parse and interpret the latter, and to present it in a modern web UI.

Sphinx, the leading Python documentation tool, is great for hand-written documentation, but I find that in many projects, writing manuals is just too low a priority to get done ever. Docstrings, however, are cheap to write, and further can contain doctests, simple code snippets that can serve both as unit tests and code samples. Epydoc is the best docstring-focused documentation I know of, but is old and no longer maintained.

Finally, in this web-focused day and age, I think an API documentation system should be constructed in modular and service-oriented way.

  1. A documentation extract library. This may be run in batch mode, for instance, as part of a build process, or just in time, in response to documentation queries.

  2. A library for interpreting as many types and variants of documentation markup as possible (incuding ad hoc markup) and interpreting it in the context of code. For instance, documentation of function parameters should be associated with the parameters themselves.

  3. A JSON-based format for representing the API documentation for a code module.

  4. User interfaces for browsing the API documentation, responsible for presentation aspects.

Document structure

Since the term "doc" is heavily overloaded, we invent variants to describe the documents and documentation in supdoc.

A docsrc is a top-level JSON document encoding content summary and documentation for one or more Python modules (or packages). A docsrc looks like this:

  "modules": {
    "mod0": { ... },
    "mod1": { ... }

A key of modules is a fully-qualified Python module name. The corresponding value is an objdoc describing the Python module.

An objdoc is a JSON object encoding summary and documentation for a Python object. An objdoc may document any type of Python object, such as a module, class, function, method, or other value. An objdoc may be recursive, i.e. contain other objdoc instances, to express composition of Python objects.

With a docsrc, an objdoc can be located given two pieces of information: its fully-qualified module name and its name path within the module. The latter is the dotted series of names by which the object is found by successive calls to getattr(), starting with the module itself. If the name path is omitted, this indicates the module object itself. The name path is generally, but not always, the same as the object's qualname.

A ref is a JSON object that refers to another objdoc. The syntax follows the JSON Reference draft standard. It is looks as follows

  "$ref": "#/modules/modname/path0/..."

The reference is always relative to the top of the docsrc. The reference path is "modules", followed by the fully qualified module name, followed by components of the path within the module.

A ref can be used anywhere in place of an objdoc.

objdoc fields

Field names of an objdoc and their semantics are given below. All fields in an objdoc are optional; an implementation should be able to handle an instance with any or all omitted.

  • name: The unqualified name of the object, generally the value of its __name__ attribute.

  • qualname: The qualified name of the object, generally the value of its __qualname__ attribute.

  • type_name: The name of the object's type, generally the __name__ attribute of its type.

  • type: The object's type, an objdoc or (most likely) ref.

  • repr: A string containing the object's repr.

  • dict: The contents of the object's __dict__. Note that this does not contain names from predecessors in the object's MRO.

  • all_names: An array of names of dict entries that make up the public interface. This is generally set for modules only, taken from the __all__ variable.

  • signature: For a callable object, the object's signature; see below.

  • docs: The object's documentation, generally extracted from its docstring; see below.


A signature is a JSON object encoding the calling signature of a callable object. It looks like this:

  "params": [
      "name": "...",
      "kind": "...",
      "default": { ... },
      "doc": "...",
      "doc_type": "...",
      "annotation": { ... }

The callable's parameters are given in declaration order. Each includes the name and kind field; the others may be missing.

  • name: The parameter name.

  • kind: The names of one of the parameter kind constants in inspect.Parameter: "KEYWORD_ONLY", "POSITIONAL_ONLY", "POSITIONAL_OR_KEYWORD", "VAR_KEYWORD", OR "VAR_POSITIONAL".

  • default: A objdoc for the default value.

  • doc: A string containing parameter documentation extracted from the callable's docstring.

  • doc_type: A string containing documentation about the parameter's type, extracted from the callable's docstring.

  • annotation: An objdoc for the parameter annotation.


An objdoc's docs field containins a JSON object with information extracted from the object's docstring. It looks like this:

  "doc": "...",
  "summary": "...",
  "body": [ "...", ... ],
  "javadoc": [ ... ]

As above, all fields may be missing. Their interpretations are,

  • doc: The full docstring (without any indentation stripped or other munging).

  • summary: A summary of the object, extracted from the first line or sentence of the docstring

  • body: An array of paragraphs or other blocks constituting the documentation's body.

  • javadoc: An array of extracted Javadoc-style tags.


A Javadoc comment looks as follows:

 * Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.
 * @tag1         sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt
 * @tag2 foobar  ut labore et dolore magna aliqua

Some tags, such as tag2 above, accept a single-word argument, while others, such as tag1, do not. A tag is followed by associated text, which may start or extend onto following lines, and extends until the next tag or the end of the docstring.

The Javadoc-style tag objects look as follows:

  "tag": "tag2",
  "arg": "foobar",
  "text": "sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt"

Project details

Download files

Download the file for your platform. If you're not sure which to choose, learn more about installing packages.

Source Distribution

supdoc-0.1.1.tar.gz (58.7 kB view hashes)

Uploaded source

Supported by

AWS AWS Cloud computing Datadog Datadog Monitoring Facebook / Instagram Facebook / Instagram PSF Sponsor Fastly Fastly CDN Google Google Object Storage and Download Analytics Huawei Huawei PSF Sponsor Microsoft Microsoft PSF Sponsor NVIDIA NVIDIA PSF Sponsor Pingdom Pingdom Monitoring Salesforce Salesforce PSF Sponsor Sentry Sentry Error logging StatusPage StatusPage Status page