Building documentation#

This section outlines how to locally build both the user and developer guides and the C++ API documentation for VTK.

User and developer guides#

VTK’s user and developer guides are automatically built and deployed to every time the master branch is updated by leveraging the integration with the Read the Docs service.

To locally build the documentation:

  1. Download the VTK sources.

  2. Create and activate a virtual environment.

cd Documentation/docs

python3 -m venv .venv
source .venv/bin/activate
cd Documentation\docs

py -m venv .venv

py -m venv executes venv using the latest Python interpreter you have installed. For more details, read the Python Windows launcher docs.

  1. Install dependencies using pip.

python3 -m pip install -r requirements.txt
py -m pip install -r requirements.txt
  1. Build the documentation as web pages.

make html
  1. Open _build/html/index.html in a web browser.

xdg-open _build/html/index.html
open _build/html/index.html
start _build\html\index.html


In order to successfully build the VTK documentation using the instructions below, you will need to install the required Python packages.

To ensure that you have the correct dependencies installed in the Python environment associated with the VTK build tree, please run pip install -r Documentation\docs\requirements.txt or pip install --user -r Documentation\docs\requirements.txt.

If updating your system installation of Python is not feasible or you prefer not to do so, we recommend following the Without VTK build tree approach instead.

  1. Download VTK sources.

  2. Configure VTK by setting the VTK_BUILD_SPHINX_DOCUMENTATION option to ON.

  3. Build the SphinxDoc target.


Automatic build of preview documentation each time a merge request is submitted is not yet supported due to limitation of the Read The Docs service that does not yet support self-hosted GitLab deployment.

Solutions to address this are being discussed in

C++ API documentation#

The C++ API documentation is built and uploaded to when the master branch is updated.

To locally build the documentation:

  1. Install Doxygen

  2. Download the VTK sources.

  3. Configure VTK by setting the VTK_BUILD_DOCUMENTATION option to ON.

  4. Build the DoxygenDoc target.


After configuring the VTK using CMake, the following targets may be used to build documentation for VTK:

  • DoxygenDoc - build the doxygen documentation from VTK’s C++ source files (VTK_BUILD_DOCUMENTATION needs to be ON for the target to exist).

  • SphinxDoc - build the sphinx documentation for VTK. (VTK_BUILD_SPHINX_DOCUMENTATION needs to be ON for the target to exist).