Hosting your Sphinx docs in Github

by Luca Sbardella on February 09, 2010

How to set up Sphinx and Github to create great documentation for your project on Github servers

Github is a social source control service which has been growing at an incredible pace over the last year or so. I use it for most of my own and my company source control. If you don't know about it, check it out. Sphinx is a tool that makes it easy to create intelligent and beautiful documentation.

I assume you are familiar with both Github and Sphinx, albeit not an expert. In this brief post I assume your project is called myproject and it is already hosted at

Once successful, your project documentation will be publicly available (even for a private repo) at

Creating the documentation branch

Github allows each project to have its custom web pages by creating a new branch in the repository called gh-pages. To create the new branch which works nicely with Sphinx I first create a directory which will hold the Sphinx builds, lets call it /path/to/myprojectdocs/. Move into the directory and clone your repository using

git clone html

Move into the /path/to/myprojectdocs/html directory and fire the following commands on the shell

git symbolic-ref HEAD refs/heads/gh-pages
rm .git/index
git clean -fdx

After this your directory will contain nothing, but don't worry, your repo is still in Github.

Sphinx configuration

I assume you already have a Sphinx documentation directory for your project called /path/to/myproject/docs/. Move into this directory, edit the file Makefile and change the entry

BUILDDIR = /path/to/myprojectdocs

There is one last thing to do before we can compile our docs and push them to our github repository. For some reasons, Sphinx save static files into a directory names _static and you can't change that. On the other hand, github processes the incoming html with Jekyll which believes top level folders starting with an underscore are special and does not let their content be accessible to the server.

Fortunately, a phinx-to-github extension is available to solve the problem. All you need to do is to download the script and put it in your PYTHONPATH or Sphinx extension path and add

extensions = [ "sphinxtogithub" ]

to your file. Save and run make html.

Now go back to /path/to/myprojectdocs/html and you should see all the files of your documentation. Add them to git and

git commit -a -m "First commit of docs"
git push origin gh-pages

All done.