12. Updating the Python Doc Strings


We are still refining this procedure!

The Python doc strings for most functions in VisIt’s scripting interface are generated from the examples embedded in the python_scripting/functions.rst file. This allows us to have a single source for both our scripting interface sphinx docs and the doc strings embedded in VisIt’s compiled Python module. The functions_to_method_doc.py helper script generates MethodDoc.C from the examples embedded in the rst source.

The Python doc strings for Attribute objects and Events are extracted from the scripting interface for use in the Python scripting sphinx docs. The sphinx_cli_extractor.py runs VisIt to generate python_scripting/attributes.rst and python_scripting/events.rst.

12.1. Steps to update the Python scripting manual

  1. Modify python_scripting/functions.rst.

  2. Run functions_to_plain_py.py to generate PY_RST_FUNCTIONS_TO_PYTHON.py.

  3. Run 2to3 -p PY_RST_FUNCTIONS_TO_PYTHON.py to check for Python syntax errors and Python 3 compatibly.

    • NOTE: PY_RST_FUNCTIONS_TO_PYTHON.py is just a temporary file to test steps 2 and 3 here. It could be named anything and is not part of the repository.
    • NOTE: 2to3 will run to completion and issue a number of messages. A zero return code indicates all is well.
  4. Run functions_to_method_doc.py to regenerate MethodDoc.C.

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

  6. Run the sphinx_cli_extractor.py tool producing new attributes.rst and events.rst files. To do so, you may need to use a combination of the PATH and PYTHONPATH environment variables to tell the sphinx_cli_extractor.py 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 PYTHONHOME 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 macOS machine, the command would look like…

    env PATH=/Applications/VisIt.app/Contents/Resources/2.13.3/darwin-x86_64/bin:/Applications/VisIt.app/Contents/Resources/bin:$PATH \
    PYTHONHOME=/Applications/VisIt.app//Contents/Resources/2.13.3/darwin-x86_64/lib/python \
    PYTHONPATH=/Applications/VisIt.app/Contents/Resources/2.13.3/darwin-x86_64/lib/site-packages \

    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=/Users/miller86/visit/third_party/3.2.0/python/3.7.7/i386-apple-darwin18_clang/bin:/Users/miller86/visit/visit/build/bin:$PATH \
    PYTHONPATH=../../build/lib/site-packages python3 ./sphinx_cli_extractor.py

    The whole process only takes a few seconds.

  7. Assuming you successfully ran the above command, producing new attributes.rst and events.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
  8. Then open the file, _build/index.html, in your favorite browser to view.

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

  10. 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.