Contributing To VisIt CLI Documentation

Note: This procedure is planned for change in the future.

At present, all VisIt Python CLI documentation is actually composed directly as Python strings in the source C++ file in ../../visitpy/common/MethodDoc.C.

We recognize this isn’t the most convenient way to write documentation and are planning on changing it in the future. However, it does permit us to have a single source file for documentation which is then used to provide help(func) at the Python prompt as well as generate the restructured text used here.

In the future, we will swap this arrangement and write documentation in restructured text and then generate the contents of ../../visitpy/common/MethodDoc.C from the restructured text.

The documentation here is then generated from the MethodDoc.C file using the script ../ That script produces attributes.rst, events.rst and functions.rst files. The other .rst files here are manually managed and can be modified normally as needed.

Steps to update the CLI Manual

  1. Modify ../../visitpy/common/MethodDoc.C as needed

  2. Build and run the VisIt cli and assure yourself help(<your-new-func-doc>) produces the desired output

  3. Run the tool producing new attributes.rst, events.rst and functions.rst files. To do so, you may need to use a combination of the PATH and PYTHONPATH environment variables to tell the script where to find the VisIt module, visit in VisIt’s site-packages and where to find the Python installation that that module is expecting to run with. In addition, you may need to use the PTHONHOME environment variable to tell VisIt’s visit module where to find standard Python libraries. For example, to use an installed version of VisIt on my OSX machine, the command would look like…

    env PATH=/Applications/$PATH \
    PYTHONHOME=/Applications/ \
    PYTHONPATH=/Applications/ \

    Note that the above command would produce CLI documentation for version 2.13.3 of VisIt. Or, to use a current build of VisIt on which you are working on documentation related to changes you have made to VisIt, the command would look something like…

    env PATH=../../build/third_party/python/2.7.14/i386-apple-darwin17_clang/bin:../../build/visit/build/bin:$PATH \
    PYTHONPATH=../../build/visit/build/lib/site-packages/ \

    The whole process only takes a few seconds.

  4. Assuming you succesfully run the above command, producing new attributes.rts, events.rst and functions.rst files, then do a local build of the documentation here and confirm there are no errors in the build

    sphinx-build -b html . _build -a
  5. Then open the file, _build/index.html, in your favorite browser to view.

  6. Add all the changed files to a commit and push to GitHub

  7. The GitHub integration with ReadTheDocs should result in your documentation updates going live a short while (<15 mins) after it has been merged to develop.