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Frequently Asked Questions

My project isn't building with autodoc

First, you should check out the Builds tab of your project. That records all of the build attempts that RTD has made to build your project. If you see modules missing, you should enable the virtualenv feature, which will install your project into a virtualenv. If you are still seeing missing dependencies, you can install them with a pip requirements file in your project settings.

If you are still seeing errors because of C library dependencies, please see the below section about that.

How do I change behavior for Read the Docs

When RTD builds your project, it sets the READTHEDOCS environment variable to the string True. So within your Sphinx's file, you can vary the behavior based on this. For example:

import os
on_rtd = os.environ.get('READTHEDOCS', None) == 'True'
if on_rtd:
    html_theme = 'default'
    html_theme = 'nature'

I get import errors on libraries that depend on C modules


Another use case for this is when you have a module with a C extension.

This happens because our build system doesn't have the dependencies for building your project. This happens with things like libevent and mysql, and other python things that depend on C libraries. We can't support installing random C binaries on our system, so there is another way to fix these imports.

You can mock out the imports for these modules in your with the following snippet:

import sys

class Mock(object):
    def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):

    def __call__(self, *args, **kwargs):
        return Mock()

    def __getattr__(self, name):
        if name in ('__file__', '__path__'):
            return '/dev/null'
        elif name[0] == name[0].upper():
            return type(name, (), {})
            return Mock()

MOCK_MODULES = ['pygtk', 'gtk', 'gobject', 'argparse']
for mod_name in MOCK_MODULES:
    sys.modules[mod_name] = Mock()

Of course, replacing MOCK_MODULES with the modules that you want to mock out.

Where do I need to put my docs for RTD to find it?

Read the Docs will crawl your project looking for a Where it finds the, it will run sphinx-build in that directory. So as long as you only have one set of sphinx documentation in your project, it should Just Work.

I want to use the Blue/Default Sphinx theme

We think that our theme is badass, and better than the default for many reasons. Some people don't like change though :), so there is a hack that will let you keep using the default theme. If you set the html_style variable in your, it should default to using the default theme. The value of this doesn't matter, and can be set to None, 'static/.

Image scaling doesn't work in my documentation

Image scaling in docutils depends on PIL. PIL is installed in the system that RTD runs on. However, if you are using the virtualenv building option, you will likely need to include PIL in your requirements for your project.

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