Hosting the Documentation

So far, we’ve been viewing our documentation locally on our machine. But documentation is made for sharing!

Let’s commit and push your documentation. I will be using GitHub in my examples below, however you can choose to push it on other platforms such as GitLab or BitBucket.

Files to commit to git

You’ll notice that when we run sphinx-quickstart, Sphinx generated a whole bunch of files for us. Additionally, there were a number of files getting generated under the _build directory. You might wonder if you have to commit all of these files.

Here’s are the files you need to add and commit to your git repository:


  • make.bat

  • Makefile

  • All of the .rst files, basically all of the documentation you wrote

  • Any custom files you created under _static or _templates directories. If those folders are empty, then you can ignore them.

You do not need to commit anything in _build directory.

(optional) Push to remote

This step is optional. If you’re not comfortable pushing your documentation right now, and want to do it at a later time, it’s fine.

(optional) Host the documentation on ReadTheDocs

I’m a fan of hosting documentation through ReadTheDocs. (I’m a Gold member).

Some benefits:

  • It’s free if your project is open source, i.e. available publicly on GitHub, GitLab, or BitBucket

  • You can enable “preview” builds, so ReadTheDocs can build your documentation from pull requests. You can easily review documentation changes without needing to pull and build the PR locally.

  • It can build from your default/main branch. So you can keep your documentation up to date.

  • It can also build PDF version of your documentation without needing to set up additional configuration.

Please follow the documentation at Publishing the documentation to ReadTheDocs on how to do it.

(optional) Hosting the documentation elsewhere

To host your documentation elsewhere, you’ll have to figure out a way to have your documentation built, for example by running the make html command, perhaps as part of your CI. You’ll then want to “serve” the _build\html. For example, you may need to copy over the output of _build\html to the web server that hosts your documentation.

Here’s an example instructions on how to host your Sphinx documentation on GitHub pages.