Working on the openATTIC documentation

The documentation for openATTIC consists of several documents, which are managed in the subdirectory documentation of the source code repository:

The documentation is written in the reStructuredText markup language. We use the Sphinx documentation generator to build the documentation in HTML and PDF format, which is available online from

If you would like to work on the documentation, you first need to checkout a copy of the openATTIC source code repository as outlined in chapter Setting up a Development System (you can skip the steps of installing the development tools, if you intend to only work on the documentation).


The documentation can be edited using your favorite text editor. Many editors provide built-in support for reStructuredText to ease the task of formatting.

To setup the Sphinx document generator, consult your Linux distribution’s documentation. Most distributions ship with Sphinx included in the base distribution, so installing the package python-sphinx using your distribution’s package management tool usually gets you up and running quickly, at least for creating the HTML documentation. Creating the PDF documentation is somewhat more involved, as it requires a LateX environment (e.g. the texlive distribution) and the latexpdf utility (usually included in the pdftex package).

For previewing the HTML documentation, you need a local web browser, e.g. Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome/Chromium. The PDF document can be previewed using any PDF viewer, e.g. Evince or Adobe Acrobat Reader®.

Documentation Guidelines

In order to maintain a common document structure and formatting, please keep the following recommendation in mind when working on the documentation:

  • Use 2 spaces for indendation, not tabs.
  • Wrap long lines at 78 characters, if possible.
  • Overlong command line examples should be wrapped in a way that still supports cutting and pasting them into a command line, e.g. by using a backslash (“\”) for breaking up shell commands.

Building the documentation

After you have made your changes to the respective reST text files, you can perform a build of the HTML documentation by running the following command from within the documentation directory:

$ make html

Take a close look at the build output for any errors or warnings that might occur. The resulting HTML files can be found in the directory _build/html. To open the start page of the documentation, open the index page in a web browser, e.g. as follows:

$ firefox _build/html/index.html

To build the PDF document, run the following command:

$ make latexpdf

This build process will take some more time, again make sure to check for any warnings or errors that might occur. The resulting PDF can be found in the directory _build/latex. Open it in a PDF viewer, e.g. as follows:

$ evince _build/latex/openATTIC.pdf

If you are satisfied with the outcome, commit and push your changes.

If you would like to contribute your changes, please make sure to read Contributing Code to openATTIC for instructions.