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Building Documentation

Creating or updating the music21 documentation requires a few additional programs to be installed, most importantly one called Sphinx. Sphinx is a documentation generator that uses reStructuredText (rst) as its markup language and outputs HTML documents.

1) Installing setuptools

First, you’ll need setuptools if you don’t already have it. Setuptools is a package management software that makes it easy to download, build, upgrade, and uninstall Python packages. To download, go to and follow the instructions for whichever system you’re running. Be sure to get the version of setuptools that corresponds to the version of python you’re using as well (they’re all listed at

In the terminal, enter sudo sh setuptools-0.6c9-py2.4.egg (or rather, use the filename of the egg version that you downloaded). For Python 2.7, it’ll look like this:

sudo sh setuptools-0.6c11-py2.7.egg

Note: depending on where you saved the .egg when you downloaded it, you may have to change the directory.

You should be prompted for your password, and then you should see something resembling this:

Installing easy_install script to /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/bin

Installing easy_install-2.7 script to /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/bin

Installed /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/site-packages/setuptools-0.6c11-py2.7.egg

Processing dependencies for setuptools==0.6c11

Finished processing dependencies for setuptools==0.6c11

If you run python in the terminal, you should be able to import easy_install without any errors.

(Additional instructions for installing and using setuptools/easy_install are available at:

2) Downloading and Installing Sphinx

Once setuptools is installed, head to to download the Sphinx egg that corresponds to your version of Python.

In the terminal, type in easy_install Sphinx-1.0.7-py2.7.egg (again, you may have to change the directory depending on where you saved the egg).

3) Running

Once that finishes running, go to Eclipse and under the buildDoc folder of trunk, open and run it. HTML documents should be generated and stored in music21/docs/html, which you can then open in your web browser. Static documentation goes in the buildDoc/staticDocs folder. It is tested by running test/

To add a module to buildDoc, it needs to be listed twice, first at the top import then in the list of modules below. Keep all modules in alphabetical order.