If it won't be simple, it simply won't be. [Hire me, source code] by Miki Tebeka, CEO, 353Solutions

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

reStructuredText

I like to write documentation in a textual format. This way it's easy to view the changes in a regular diff tool and you can use almost any text editor to view the source.

The down side that you usually need to compile the documentation - no WYSIWYG.

I used to like LaTex. It produces excellent results out-of-the-box. And the math support is second to none.

However, reStructuedText has two advantages:
1. You can read the source directly and understand it
2. It produces good HTML (Yes, I know about latex2html)

You can also produces good PDF using rst2latex and then pdflatex.

A short document example:

===========
Hello World
===========
:Author: Miki Tebeka <miki@mikitebeka.com>
:Date: $Date: 2007-06-05 21:02:04 -0700 (Tue, 05 Jun 2007) $

.. contents::

Chapter 1
=========
In the beginning ...

Sub Chapter 1
-------------
There was LaTex_ [#]_

Chapter 2
=========
And then there was reST_

::
  
   That can have preformatted
   text


----

.. _LaTex: http://tug.org
.. _reST: http://docutils.sf.net/rst.html

.. [#] Which is still very good

.. comment: vim: ft=rst spell


The results using this makefile are:
%.html: %.txt
 rst2html.py --stylesheet style.css $< $@

%.pdf: %.tex
 pdflatex $<

%.tex: %.txt
 rst2latex.py $< $@

all: hw.html hw.pdf

clean:
 rm -f *.aux *.log *.pdf *.html *.out

fresh: clean all

.PHONY: all clean fresh



HTML


PDF


Final Notes


There are other such tools: markdown, asciidoc and others. I happen to like reST.

I use the following stylesheets (can't remember the URL I got them from):
style.css
/*
:Author: Fred L. Drake, Jr.
:date: $Date$
:version: $Revision$

This stylesheet combines some ideas from the two stylesheets
distributed with docutils and enhances them for Zope 3 documentation.
*/

@import url(default.css);

div.document {
  margin: 0px 1em 1em 4em;
  padding: 0px; }

div.document a {
  text-decoration: none; }

div.document a[href] {
  text-decoration: underline; }

div.document h1.title {
  background-image: url("zope3logo.gif");
  background-position: -6px -4px;
  background-repeat: no-repeat;
  font-size: 150%;
  min-height: 50px; }

div.document div.section {
  margin: 0px 0px 1.5em 0px; }

div.document div.section h1 {
  background-color: rgb(230,230,230);
  margin-left: -2em;
  padding: 0.2em;
  padding-left: 0.35em;
  padding-top: 0.35em;
  /* This grey underline make this more visually distinctive on LCD
     monitors, which often don't have enough contrast. */
  border-right: thin solid rgb(180,180,180);
  border-bottom: thin solid rgb(180,180,180); }

div.document div.section div.section div.section h3 {
  margin-bottom: -0.5em; }

div.document h1 {
  font-family: sans-serif;
  font-size: 135%; }

div.document h2 {
  font-family: sans-serif;
  font-size: 120%; }

div.document h3 {
  font-family: sans-serif;
  font-size: 105%; }

div.document h4 {
  font-family: sans-serif;
  font-size: 100%; }

div.document h5 {
  font-family: sans-serif;
  font-size: 100%; }

div.document h6 {
  font-family: sans-serif;
  font-style: italic;
  font-size: 100%; }

div.document hr {
  width: 75%; }

div.document .literal .pre {
  background-color: white;
  font-family: lucidatypewriter, "lucida typewriter", sans-serif; }

div.document .literal-block {
  border: thin solid rgb(180,180,180);
  font-family: lucidatypewriter, "lucida typewriter", monospace;
  font-size: 80%;
  padding: 0.5em; }

div.document table.table {
  margin-left: 2em;
  margin-right: 2em; }

div.document table.table thead {
  background-color: rgb(230,230,230); }

/* docutils uses the "option" class with both "col" and "span"
   elements, so we have to be explicit here */
div.document .option-list span.option {
  font-weight: bold; }

div.document .option-list kbd {
  font-family: inherit; }


default.css
/*
:Author: David Goodger
:Contact: goodger@users.sourceforge.net
:date: $Date$
:version: $Revision$
:copyright: This stylesheet has been placed in the public domain.

Default cascading style sheet for the HTML output of Docutils.
*/

div.document .first {
  margin-top: 0 }

div.document .last {
  margin-bottom: 0 }

div.document a.toc-backref {
  text-decoration: none ;
  color: black }

div.document dd {
  margin-bottom: 0.5em }

div.document div.abstract {
  margin: 2em 5em }

div.document div.abstract p.topic-title {
  font-weight: bold ;
  text-align: center }

div.document div.attention,
div.document div.caution,
div.document div.danger,
div.document div.error,
div.document div.hint,
div.document div.important,
div.document div.note,
div.document div.tip,
div.document div.warning,
div.document div.admonition {
  margin: 2em ;
  border: medium outset ;
  padding: 1em }

div.document div.attention p.admonition-title,
div.document div.caution p.admonition-title,
div.document div.danger p.admonition-title,
div.document div.error p.admonition-title,
div.document div.warning p.admonition-title {
  color: red ;
  font-weight: bold ;
  font-family: sans-serif }

div.document div.hint p.admonition-title,
div.document div.important p.admonition-title,
div.document div.note p.admonition-title,
div.document div.tip p.admonition-title,
div.document div.admonition p.admonition-title {
  font-weight: bold ;
  font-family: sans-serif }

div.document div.dedication {
  margin: 2em 5em ;
  text-align: center ;
  font-style: italic }

div.document div.dedication p.topic-title {
  font-weight: bold ;
  font-style: normal }

div.document div.figure {
  margin-left: 2em }

div.document div.footer,
div.document div.header {
  font-size: smaller }

div.document div.sidebar {
  margin-left: 1em ;
  border: medium outset ;
  padding: 0em 1em ;
  background-color: #ffffee ;
  width: 40% ;
  float: right ;
  clear: right }

div.document div.sidebar p.rubric {
  font-family: sans-serif ;
  font-size: medium }

div.document div.system-messages {
  margin: 5em }

div.document div.system-messages h1 {
  color: red }

div.document div.system-message {
  border: medium outset ;
  padding: 1em }

div.document div.system-message p.system-message-title {
  color: red ;
  font-weight: bold }

div.document div.topic {
  margin: 2em }

div.document h1.title {
  text-align: center }

div.document h2.subtitle {
  text-align: center }

div.document hr {
  width: 75% }

div.document ol.simple, ul.simple {
  margin-bottom: 1em }

div.document ol.arabic {
  list-style: decimal }

div.document ol.loweralpha {
  list-style: lower-alpha }

div.document ol.upperalpha {
  list-style: upper-alpha }

div.document ol.lowerroman {
  list-style: lower-roman }

div.document ol.upperroman {
  list-style: upper-roman }

div.document p.attribution {
  text-align: right ;
  margin-left: 50% }

div.document p.caption {
  font-style: italic }

div.document p.credits {
  font-style: italic ;
  font-size: smaller }

div.document p.label {
  white-space: nowrap }

div.document p.rubric {
  font-weight: bold ;
  font-size: larger ;
  color: darkred ;
  text-align: center }

div.document p.sidebar-title {
  font-family: sans-serif ;
  font-weight: bold ;
  font-size: larger }

div.document p.sidebar-subtitle {
  font-family: sans-serif ;
  font-weight: bold }

div.document p.topic-title {
  font-weight: bold }

div.document pre.address {
  margin-bottom: 0 ;
  margin-top: 0 ;
  font-family: serif ;
  font-size: 100% }

div.document pre.line-block {
  font-family: serif ;
  font-size: 100% }

div.document pre.literal-block, pre.doctest-block {
  margin-left: 2em ;
  margin-right: 2em ;
  background-color: #eeeeee }

div.document span.classifier {
  font-family: sans-serif ;
  font-style: oblique }

div.document span.classifier-delimiter {
  font-family: sans-serif ;
  font-weight: bold }

div.document span.interpreted {
  font-family: sans-serif }

div.document span.option {
  white-space: nowrap }

div.document span.option-argument {
  font-style: italic }

div.document span.pre {
  white-space: pre }

div.document span.problematic {
  color: red }

div.document table {
  margin-top: 0.5em ;
  margin-bottom: 0.5em }

div.document table.citation {
  border-left: solid thin gray ;
  padding-left: 0.5ex }

div.document table.docinfo {
  margin: 2em 4em }

div.document table.footnote {
  border-left: solid thin black ;
  padding-left: 0.5ex }

div.document td,
div.document th {
  padding-left: 0.5em ;
  padding-right: 0.5em ;
  vertical-align: top }

div.document th.docinfo-name,
div.document th.field-name {
  font-weight: bold ;
  text-align: left ;
  white-space: nowrap }

div.document h1 tt,
div.document h2 tt,
div.document h3 tt,
div.document h4 tt,
div.document h5 tt,
div.document h6 tt {
  font-size: 100% }

div.document tt {
  background-color: #eeeeee }

div.document ul.auto-toc {
  list-style-type: none }
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