So you’ve read all the introductory material and have decided you’d like to keep using Django. We’ve only just scratched the surface with this intro (in fact, if you’ve read every single word you’ve still read less than 10% of the overall documentation).
So what’s next?
Well, we’ve always been big fans of learning by doing. At this point you should know enough to start a project of your own and start fooling around. As you need to learn new tricks, come back to the documentation.
We’ve put a lot of effort into making Django’s documentation useful, easy to read and as complete as possible. The rest of this document explains more about how the documentation works so that you can get the most out of it.
(Yes, this is documentation about documentation. Rest assured we have no plans to write a document about how to read the document about documentation.)
Or you can just browse around!
How the documentation is organized¶
Django’s main documentation is broken up into “chunks” designed to fill different needs:
The introductory material is designed for people new to Django – or to Web development in general. It doesn’t cover anything in depth, but instead gives a high-level overview of how developing in Django “feels”.
This is probably where you’ll want to spend most of your time; if you work your way through these guides you should come out knowing pretty much everything there is to know about Django.
Web development is often broad, not deep – problems span many domains. We’ve written a set of how-to guides that answer common “How do I ...?” questions. Here you’ll find information about generating PDFs with Django, writing custom template tags, and more.
Answers to really common questions can also be found in the FAQ.
The guides and how-to’s don’t cover every single class, function, and method available in Django – that would be overwhelming when you’re trying to learn. Instead, details about individual classes, functions, methods, and modules are kept in the reference. This is where you’ll turn to find the details of a particular function or whathaveyou.
Finally, there’s some “specialized” documentation not usually relevant to most developers. This includes the release notes and internals documentation for those who want to add code to Django itself, and a few other things that simply don’t fit elsewhere.
How documentation is updated¶
Just as the Django code base is developed and improved on a daily basis, our documentation is consistently improving. We improve documentation for several reasons:
- To make content fixes, such as grammar/typo corrections.
- To add information and/or examples to existing sections that need to be expanded.
- To document Django features that aren’t yet documented. (The list of such features is shrinking but exists nonetheless.)
- To add documentation for new features as new features get added, or as Django APIs or behaviors change.
Django’s documentation is kept in the same source control system as its code. It lives in the docs directory of our Git repository. Each document online is a separate text file in the repository.
Where to get it¶
You can read Django documentation in several ways. They are, in order of preference:
On the Web¶
The most recent version of the Django documentation lives at https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/dev/. These HTML pages are generated automatically from the text files in source control. That means they reflect the “latest and greatest” in Django – they include the very latest corrections and additions, and they discuss the latest Django features, which may only be available to users of the Django development version. (See “Differences between versions” below.)
We encourage you to help improve the docs by submitting changes, corrections and suggestions in the ticket system. The Django developers actively monitor the ticket system and use your feedback to improve the documentation for everybody.
Note, however, that tickets should explicitly relate to the documentation, rather than asking broad tech-support questions. If you need help with your particular Django setup, try the django-users mailing list or the #django IRC channel instead.
In plain text¶
For offline reading, or just for convenience, you can read the Django documentation in plain text.
If you’re using an official release of Django, note that the zipped package
(tarball) of the code includes a
docs/ directory, which contains all the
documentation for that release.
If you’re using the development version of Django (aka “trunk”), note that the
docs/ directory contains all of the documentation. You can update your
Git checkout to get the latest changes.
One low-tech way of taking advantage of the text documentation is by using the
grep utility to search for a phrase in all of the documentation. For
example, this will show you each mention of the phrase “max_length” in any
$ grep -r max_length /path/to/django/docs/
As HTML, locally¶
You can get a local copy of the HTML documentation following a few easy steps:
Django’s documentation uses a system called Sphinx to convert from plain text to HTML. You’ll need to install Sphinx by either downloading and installing the package from the Sphinx Web site, or with
$ sudo pip install Sphinx
Then, just use the included
Makefileto turn the documentation into HTML:
$ cd path/to/django/docs $ make html
You’ll need GNU Make installed for this.
If you’re on Windows you can alternatively use the included batch file:
cd path\to\django\docs make.bat html
The HTML documentation will be placed in
Generation of the Django documentation will work with Sphinx version 0.6 or newer, but we recommend going straight to Sphinx 1.0.2 or newer.
Differences between versions¶
As previously mentioned, the text documentation in our Git repository contains the “latest and greatest” changes and additions. These changes often include documentation of new features added in the Django development version – the Git (“trunk”) version of Django. For that reason, it’s worth pointing out our policy on keeping straight the documentation for various versions of the framework.
We follow this policy:
- The primary documentation on djangoproject.com is an HTML version of the latest docs in Git. These docs always correspond to the latest official Django release, plus whatever features we’ve added/changed in the framework since the latest release.
- As we add features to Django’s development version, we try to update the documentation in the same Git commit transaction.
- To distinguish feature changes/additions in the docs, we use the phrase: “New in version X.Y”, being X.Y the next release version (hence, the one being developed).
- Documentation fixes and improvements may be backported to the last release branch, at the discretion of the committer, however, once a version of Django is no longer supported, that version of the docs won’t get any further updates.
- The main documentation Web page includes links to documentation for all previous versions. Be sure you are using the version of the docs corresponding to the version of Django you are using!