doc2dash: Create docsets for and Clones

Release v2.1.0 (What’s new?).

doc2dash is an MIT-licensed extensible Documentation Set generator intended to be used with the API browser for OS X or one of its many free clones for all relevant platforms.

If you’ve never heard of, you’re missing out: together with doc2dash it’s all your API documentation at your fingertips!

doc2dash’s documentation lives at Read the Docs, the code on GitHub. It’s tested on Python 2.7, 3.4+, and PyPy. Both Linux and OS X are tested although certain features are only available on OS X.

User’s Guide

Requirements and Installation

The latest stable version can be always found on PyPI.


Since doc2dash is an application, it has hard-coded dependency versions. I strongly discourage from installing it into your global site-packages because it will inevitably lead to conflicts. Either use pipsi or create a virtualenv by hand.

doc2dash runs on Python 2.7, and 3.3+, and PyPy. Both Linux and OS X are supported although certain features are only available on OS X.


For best performance when converting large pieces documentation, I strongly recommend using PyPy as the interpreter of choice.


To view the results, you will need a docset viewer, the most commonly known being for OS X.

Other alternatives have been developed in cooperation with’s developer Kapeli:

doc2dash is only tested against the original though.

Supported Input Formats

Currently, doc2dash supports two documentation formats:

Feel free to help adding more! While doc2dash is implemented in Python, the scope for the supported documentation types is unlimited. So go on and submit a parser for your favourite Ruby, Haskell, Lisp, Erlang, JavaScript, … format!


Sphinx is a very common documentation format in the Python world and beyond.

Building Sphinx documentation is usually easy: after installing the sphinx package, cd into their documentation directory (usually docs or doc) and enter make html.


Do not attempt to run doc2dash over pre-built HTML documentation downloaded from Read The Docs. Those downloads aren’t direct equivalents of the actual, pristine builds and indexing will not work.


Contrary to Sphinx, pydoctor is not a complete documentation format. Instead, it’s focused on creating API documentation from Python docstrings. The most popular project employing is Twisted and its ecosystem.

Since pydoctor alas does not emit a machine-readable file, the nameIndex.html is parsed. Fortunately, no theming is common in the pydoctor world, so the parsing is reliable nonetheless.


The usage is as simple as:

$ doc2dash -A <docdir>

doc2dash will create a new directory called <docdir>.docset in ~/Library/Application Support/doc2dash/DocSets containing a docset. When finished, the docset is automatically added to

Options and Arguments

The full usage is:

$ doc2dash [OPTIONS] SOURCE

The SOURCE is a directory containing the documentation you would like to convert. Valid OPTIONS are the following:

-n, --name

Name the docset explicitly instead of letting doc2dash guess the correct name from the directory name of the source.

-d PATH, --destination PATH

Put the resulting docset into PATH. Default is the current directory. Ignored if --add-to-global is specified.

-f, --force

Overwrite docset if it already exists. Otherwise, doc2dash would exit with an error.


Add PNG icon FILENAME to docset that is used within to represent the docset.

-I FILENAME, --index-page FILENAME

Set the file that is shown when the docset is clicked within

-a, --add-to-dash

Automatically add the resulting docset to Works only on OS X and when is installed.

-A, --add-to-global

Create docset in doc2dash’s default global directory [~/Library/Application Support/ doc2dash/DocSets] and add it to Works only on OS X and when is installed.

-j, --enable-js

Enable bundled and external javascript.

-u, --online-redirect-url

As of Dash 3.0 users can open the online version of pages from within docsets. To enable this, you must set this value to the base URL of your online documentation. e.g.

-q, --quiet

Limit output to errors and warnings.

-v, --verbose

Be verbose.


Show the version and exit.


Show a brief usage summary and exit.

Project Information


2.1.0 (2016-03-14)
  • Remove legacy Sphinx parsing. The intersphinx parser is much more robust so the old way shouldn’t be needed anymore.
  • Add support for InterSphinx constants. #49
  • Fix handling in-docs links with multiple anchors. #47
  • Add support for --enable-js and --online-redirect-url options. #43
  • Better support for relative paths. #37, #41

2.0.2 (2014-09-24)

2.0.1 (2014-09-16)
  • Better Unicode support. The move from unicode_literals to explicit prefixes broke some things that are fixed now. #29, #30

2.0.0 (2014-08-14)
  • Added a new parser for Sphinx documentation that uses intersphinx files that are machine readable. That should lead to more reliable parsing and a better deduction of symbol types. #28
  • Added Sphinx-based documentation.
  • Added colors, styles, and a progress bar to make output more comprehensible.
  • test works now.
  • Internally quite a few changes happened. Most prominently tuples and namedtuples have been replaced by real classes and parsers don’t inherit from anything anymore. The fundamental working principal stayed the same though so porting your parsers is trivial.

1.2.1 (2014-07-24)
  • Fix docset name deduction if the source path ends with a /. #26

1.2.0 (2014-01-07)
  • Runs now on Python 3.3. This is achieved by upgrading dependencies that didn’t play along well before on 3.3.
  • Add --index option.

1.1.0 (2013-01-13)
  • Use better dash types for modules and attributes.

1.0.0 (2012-10-14)
  • Make tests pass on Python 2.7 too.
  • Due to lack of known problems, pronouncing stable, thus 1.0.0.
  • Please note that no code except for the tests has changed since 0.3.1.

0.3.1 (2012-06-28)
  • Pronounced beta – happy testing!

0.3.0 (2012-06-28)
  • Add table of contents links to docs to get a nice TOC in dash when inside of a module.
  • Support DashDocSetFamily field.
  • Add --verbose and --quiet options.
  • Add --destination option.
  • Add --add-to-dash option.
  • Allow adding of an PNG icon to the docset (--icon).

0.2.2 (2012-06-16)
  • Don’t collect () as part of method/function names.
  • Index whole names: symbols are searchable by the whole name, including the namespace.

0.2.1 (2012-06-15)
  • Fix PyPI package: add missing and add missing packages to

0.2.0 (2012-06-14)
  • Add support for built-in constants and classes.
  • Strip annotations from unused remembered names the are re-used in synonyms.

License and Hall of Fame

doc2dash is licensed under the MIT license. The full license text can be also found in the source code repository.


doc2dash is written and maintained by Hynek Schlawack.

The development is kindly supported by Variomedia AG.

A full list of contributors can be found on GitHub’s overview.

How To Contribute

Every open source project lives from the generous help by contributors that sacrifice their time and doc2dash is no different.

Here are a few guidelines to get you started:

  • Try to limit each pull request to one change only.
  • To run the test suite, all you need is a recent tox. It will ensure the test suite runs with all dependencies against all Python versions just as it will on Travis CI. If you lack some Python version, you can can always limit the environments like tox -e py27,py35 (in that case you may want to look into pyenv that makes it very easy to install many different Python versions in parallel).
  • Make sure your changes pass our CI. You won’t get any feedback until it’s green unless you ask for it.
  • If your change is noteworthy, add an entry to the changelog. Use present tense, semantic newlines, and add link to your pull request.
  • No contribution is too small; please submit as many fixes for typos and grammar bloopers as you can!
  • Don’t break backward compatibility.
  • Always add tests and docs for your code. This is a hard rule; patches with missing tests or documentation won’t be merged.
  • Write good test docstrings.
  • Obey PEP 8 and PEP 257.
  • If you address review feedback, make sure to bump the pull request. Maintainers don’t receive notifications if you push new commits.

Please note that this project is released with a Contributor Code of Conduct. By participating in this project you agree to abide by its terms. Please report any harm to Hynek Schlawack in any way you find appropriate.

Thank you for considering to contribute to doc2dash!

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