Documentation generator for flask

documentation, flask, rest-api
pip install flask-selfdoc==1.3.1a0



Flask-Selfdoc is a Flask extension that automatically creates documentation for your endpoints based on the routes, function arguments and docstrings. It was forked from Flask-Autodoc, written by Arnaud Coomans, and is completely compatible as a replacement for that extension. See the section on 'Compatibility' below.

Build Status Pypi version PyPI Pypi license Python 3


Flask-Selfdoc is compatible with Python versions >=3.6 and Flask versions >=1.0. The package is tested with a selection of those versions. If you find it doesn't work correctly with versions in those ranges please report a bug, thanks.

Previous versions of Flask-Selfdoc worked with Python 2.7, Python 3.5 and Flask 0.11 and 0.12. If you need a version which works with these old versions of Python and Flask, try Flask-Selfdoc 1.2.3 (but you are better off upgrading away from end-of-life Python!!!)


To install Flask-Selfdoc, run pip:

pip install flask-selfdoc

or clone this directory and run setup:

python setup.py install

or install via GitHub directly:

pip install git+https://github.com/jwg4/flask-selfdoc.git@master


Start using Flask-Selfdoc by importing it and initializing it:

from flask import Flask
from flask_selfdoc import Autodoc

app = Flask(__name__)
auto = Autodoc(app)

by default, Flask-Selfdoc will only document the routes explicitly decorated with doc:

def show_user(id):
    return user_from_database(id)

to generate the documentation, use the html() method:

def documentation():
    return auto.html()


If your codebase uses Flask-Autodoc, you can swap it for Flask-Selfdoc by simply changing the name of the module in your import:

from flask_selfdoc import Autodoc

instead of

from flask_autodoc import Autodoc

No other changes are necessary. Flask-Selfdoc 1.0 has exactly the same functionality as Flask-Autodoc 0.1.2, the most recent release at the time of the fork. Later versions of Flask-Selfdoc have added functionality but are still compatible with code that worked with Flask-Autodoc.

You can't import Flask-Selfdoc using the old naming scheme for Flask extensions, flask.ext.foo. This is deprecated by Flask and now fails to work on Flask 1.0.2. See the next section for details.

ImportError with Flask 1.0.2

If you try to run Flask-Autodoc with Flask 1.0.2, you will get an ImportError which looks like this:

Traceback (most recent call last):
ImportError: No module named ext.autodoc.autodoc

This is because Flask no longer supports modules which are named flask.ext.foo. Even if you import Autodoc as above (from flask_autodoc instead of flask.ext.autodoc) the Flask-Autodoc code internally uses the old format and so the import will fail. In versions of Flask prior to 1.0.2, Flask-Autodoc caused a warning but did not fail. Flask-Selfdoc's first and main change from Flask-Autodoc was to fix this import so that it works with Flask 1.0.2, and so that the warning is not present with older versions.

If you imported Flask-Autodoc using the old syntax,

from flask.ext.autodoc import Autodoc

you should replace it with the new syntax.

 from flask_selfdoc import Autodoc

Changing from Flask-Selfdoc to Flask-Autodoc and changing your imports as above if needed, will mean that your code will work with Flask 1.0.2 and (hopefully) all future versions.

Custom documentation

To access the documentation without rendering html:


the documentation will be returned as a list of rules, where each rule is a dictionary containing:

  • methods: the set of allowed methods (ie ['GET', 'POST'])
  • rule: relative url (ie '/user/<int:id>')
  • endpoint: function name (ie 'show_user')
  • docstring: docstring of the function
  • args: function arguments
  • defaults: defaults values for the arguments

This means you can do:

def documentation():
    return jsonify(auto.generate())

or you could pass the output of auto.generate() to a Jinja template.

Custom template

To use a custom template for your documentation, give a template argument to the html method. This will use a template from the flask templates directory.

Additional arguments (other than group, groups, and template) will be passed down to the template:

	title='My Documentation',
	author='John Doe',

title and author will be available in the template:

<!-- templates/custom_documentation.html -->
{% if title is defined %}
{% endif %}

Documentation sets

Endpoints can be grouped together in different documentation sets. It is possible, for instance, to show some endpoints to third party developers and have full documentation for primary developers.

To assign an endpoint to a group, pass the name of the group as argument of the doc decorator:

def show_user(id):

to assign an endpoint to multiple groups, pass a list of group names as the groups argument to doc:

def show_user(id):

to generate the documentation for a specific group, pass the name of the group to the html or generate methods:



Apps in the examples directory are an api for a blog:

  • simple is a simple app
  • factory uses blueprints

Run with

python simple/blog.py

and connect to /doc/public and /doc/private to see public and private documentations.





Thanks to @acoomans for creating the original Flask-Selfdoc package!

Thanks to the people who built Flask and who I learnt how to do Flask from, especially @mitsuhiko, @miguelgrinberg and @ncocacola!

Thanks to the people who tried out this package and helped by posting questions and bug reports!