Dev: IPython Sphinx directive

ellisonbg edited this page Feb 14, 2013 · 3 revisions
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IPython Sphinx Directive

The ipython directive is a stateful ipython shell for embedding in sphinx documents. It knows about standard ipython prompts, and extracts the input and output lines. These prompts will be renumbered starting at 1. The inputs will be fed to an embedded ipython interpreter and the outputs from that interpreter will be inserted as well. For example, code blocks like the following:

.. ipython::

   In [136]: x = 2

   In [137]: x**3
   Out[137]: 8

will be rendered as


This tutorial should be read side-by-side with the Sphinx source for this document because otherwise you will see only the rendered output and not the code that generated it. Excepting the example above, we will not in general be showing the literal ReST in this document that generates the rendered output.

The state from previous sessions is stored, and standard error is trapped. At doc build time, ipython's output and std err will be inserted, and prompts will be renumbered. So the prompt below should be renumbered in the rendered docs, and pick up where the block above left off.

The embedded interpreter supports some limited markup. For example, you can put comments in your ipython sessions, which are reported verbatim. There are some handy "pseudo-decorators" that let you doctest the output. The inputs are fed to an embedded ipython session and the outputs from the ipython session are inserted into your doc. If the output in your doc and in the ipython session don't match on a doctest assertion, an error will be

Multi-line input is supported.

You can do doctesting on multi-line output as well. Just be careful when using non-deterministic inputs like random numbers in the ipython directive, because your inputs are ruin through a live interpreter, so if you are doctesting random output you will get an error. Here we "seed" the random number generator for deterministic output, and we suppress the seed line so it doesn't show up in the rendered output

Another demonstration of multi-line input and output

Most of the "pseudo-decorators" can be used an options to ipython mode. For example, to setup matplotlib pylab but suppress the output, you can do. When using the matplotlib use directive, it should occur before any import of pylab. This will not show up in the rendered docs, but the commands will be executed in the embedded interpreter and subsequent line numbers will be incremented to reflect the inputs:

.. ipython::

   In [144]: from pylab import *

   In [145]: ion()

Likewise, you can set :doctest: or :verbatim: to apply these settings to the entire block. For example,

You can create one or more pyplot plots and insert them with the @savefig decorator.

In a subsequent session, we can update the current figure with some text, and then resave

You can also have function definitions included in the source.

Then call it from a subsequent section.

Writing Pure Python Code

Pure python code is supported by the optional argument python. In this pure python syntax you do not include the output from the python interpreter. The following markup:

.. ipython:: python

   foo = 'bar'
   print foo
   foo = 2

Renders as

We can even plot from python, using the savefig decorator, as well as, suppress output with a semicolon

Similarly, std err is inserted

Comments are handled and state is preserved

If you don't see the next code block then the options work.

Multi-line input is handled.

Functions definitions are correctly parsed

And persist across sessions

Pretty much anything you can do with the ipython code, you can do with with a simple python script. Obviously, though it doesn't make sense to use the doctest option.


Here are the supported decorators, and any optional arguments they take. Some of the decorators can be used as options to the entire block (eg verbatim and suppress), and some only apply to the line just below them (eg savefig).


execute the ipython input block, but suppress the input and output block from the rendered output. Also, can be applied to the entire ..ipython block as a directive option with :suppress:.


insert the input and output block in verbatim, but auto-increment the line numbers. Internally, the interpreter will be fed an empty string, so it is a no-op that keeps line numbering consistent. Also, can be applied to the entire ..ipython block as a directive option with :verbatim:.


save the figure to the static directory and insert it into the document, possibly binding it into a minipage and/or putting code/figure label/references to associate the code and the figure. Takes args to pass to the image directive (scale, width, etc can be kwargs); see image options for details.


Compare the pasted in output in the ipython block with the output generated at doc build time, and raise errors if they don’t match. Also, can be applied to the entire ..ipython block as a directive option with :doctest:.

Configuration Options


The directory in which to save the figures. This is relative to the Sphinx source directory. The default is html_static_path.


The compiled regular expression to denote the start of IPython input lines. The default is re.compile('In [(d+)]:s?(.*)s*'). You shouldn't need to change this.


The compiled regular expression to denote the start of IPython output lines. The default is re.compile('Out[(d+)]:s?(.*)s*'). You shouldn't need to change this.


The string to represent the IPython input prompt in the generated ReST. The default is 'In [%d]:'. This expects that the line numbers are used in the prompt.


The string to represent the IPython prompt in the generated ReST. The default is 'Out [%d]:'. This expects that the line numbers are used in the prompt.