Sphinx "matlabdomain" extension

matlab, python, sphinx, sphinx-extension, sphinxcontrib
pip install sphinxcontrib-matlabdomain==0.21.5


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sphinxcontrib-matlabdomain -- Sphinx domain for auto-documenting MATLAB

This extension provides a Sphinx domain for automatically generating doumentation from MATLAB source files. It is modelled after the Python autodoc.

The extension allows you to have your documentation and source files together and use the powerful Sphinx documentation tool. All your MATLAB file help text can be automatically included in the your documentation and output as for instance HTML.

The extension works really well with sphinx.ext.napoleon.

Recent Changes.


The Python package must be installed with:

pip install sphinxcontrib-matlabdomain

In general, the usage is the same as for documenting Python code. The package is tested with Python >= 3.8 and Sphinx >= 4.5.0.

For a Python 2 compatible version the package must be installed with:

pip install sphinxcontrib-matlabdomain==0.11.8


In your Sphinx conf.py file add sphinxcontrib.matlab to the list of extensions.

extensions = ['sphinxcontrib.matlab', 'sphinx.ext.autodoc']

For convenience the primary domain can be set to mat with.:

primary_domain = "mat"

Additional Configuration

In order for the Sphinx MATLAB domain to auto-document MATLAB source code, set the config value of matlab_src_dir to an absolute path or a path relative to the source directory. Currently only one MATLAB path can be specified, but that folder and all the subfolders in that tree will be searched.

Shorten all class, package and functions to the minimum length. This assumes that everything is in the path as we would expect it in MATLAB. This will resemble a more MATLAB-like presentation. If it is True is forces matlab_keep_package_prefix = False. Further, it allows for much shorter and cleaner references. Example, given a path to classes like target.subfolder.ClassFoo and target.@ClassFolder.Classfolder

  • With False:

  • With True:


Default is False. Added in Version 0.19.0.


Automatically convert the names of known entities (e.g. classes, functions, properties, methods) to links. Valid values are "basic" and "all".

  • "basic" - Auto-links (1) known classes, functions, properties, or methods that appear in docstring lines that begin with "See also" and any subsequent lines before the next blank line (unknown names are wrapped in double-backquotes), and (2) property and method names that appear in lists under "<MyClass> Properties:" and "<MyClass> Methods:" headings in class docstrings.
  • "all" - Auto-links everything included with "basic", plus all known classes and functions everywhere else they appear in any docstring, any fully qualified (including class name) property or method names, any names ending with "()" within class, property, or method docstrings that match a method of the corresponding class, and any property or method names in their own docstrings. Note that a non-breaking space before or after a name will prevent auto-linking.

Default is None. Added in Version 0.20.0.

Show property default values in the rendered document. Default is False, which is what MathWorks does in their documentation. Added in Version 0.16.0.
Shows the constructor argument list in the class signature if True. Default is False. Added in Version 0.20.0.
Determines if the MATLAB package prefix + is displayed in the generated documentation. Default is False. When False, packages are still referred to in ReST using +pakage.+subpkg.func but the output will be pakage.subpkg.func(). Forced to False if matlab_short_links is True. Added in Version 0.11.0.
The encoding of the MATLAB files. By default, the files will be read as utf-8 and parsing errors will be replaced using ? chars. Added in Version 0.9.0.

If you want the closest to MATLAB documentation style, use matlab_short_links = True and matlab_auto_link = "basic" or matlab_auto_link = "all" in your conf.py file.

Roles and Directives

Please see Sphinx Domains and sphinx.ext.autodoc for documentation on the use of roles and directives. MATLAB code can be documented using the following roles and directives:

Directive MATLAB object
.. module:: foldername folders, packages and namespaces
.. currentmodule:: foldername
  • set folder but do not link
.. automodule:: foldername
  • auto-document
  • reference
.. function:: funcname function definition and signature
.. autofunction:: funcname()
  • auto-document
  • reference
.. script:: scriptname script definition
.. autoscript:: scriptname
  • auto-document
  • reference
.. class:: classname() class definition and optional signature
.. autoclass:: classname
  • auto-document
  • reference
.. method:: methname() method definition and signature
.. automethod:: methname
  • auto-document
  • reference
.. staticmethod:: statmethname() static method definition and signature
.. automethod:: statmethname
  • auto-document
  • reference
.. attribute:: attrname property definition
.. autoattribute:: attrname
  • auto-document
  • reference
.. application:: appname application definition
.. autoapplication:: appname
  • auto-document
  • reference

Several options are available for auto-directives.

  • :members: auto-document public members
  • :show-inheritance: list bases
  • :undoc-members: document members without docstrings
  • :annotation: specifies attribute annotation instead of default

There are also several config values that can be set in conf.py that will affect auto-docementation.

  • autoclass_content can be set to class, both or init, which determines which docstring is used for classes. The constructor docstring is used when this is set to init.
  • autodoc_member_order can be set to alphabetical, groupwise or bysource.
  • autodoc_default_flags can be set to a list of options to apply. Use the no-flag directive option to disable this config value once.


The module roles and directives create a psuedo namespace for MATLAB objects, similar to a package. They represent the path to the folder containing the MATLAB object. If no module is specified then Sphinx will assume that the object is a built-in.

Example: given the following MATLAB source in folder test_data:

classdef MyHandleClass < handle & my.super.Class
    % a handle class
    % :param x: a variable

    %% some comments
        x % a property

        % Multiple lines before a
        % property can also be used
        function h = MyHandleClass(x)
            h.x = x
        function x = get.x(obj)
        % how is this displayed?
            x = obj.x
    methods (Static)
        function w = my_static_function(z)
        % A static function in :class:`MyHandleClass`.
        % :param z: input z
        % :returns: w

            w = z

Use the following to document:

Test Data
This is the test data module.

.. automodule:: test_data

:mod:`test_data` is a really cool module.

My Handle Class
This is the handle class definition.

.. autoclass:: MyHandleClass

In version 0.19.0 the .. automodule:: directive can also take a . as argument, which allows you to document classes or functions in the root of matlab_src_dir.

Module Index

Since version 0.10.0 the MATLAB Module Index should be linked to with:

`MATLAB Module Index <mat-modindex.html>`_

Older versions, used the Python Module Index, which was linked to with:


Documenting Python and MATLAB sources together

Since version 0.10.0 MATLAB and Python sources can be (auto-)documented in the same Sphinx documentation. For this to work, do not set the primary domain.

Instead use the mat: prefix before the desired directives:

.. automodule:: func
.. autofunction:: func.main

.. mat:automodule:: matsrc
.. mat:autofunction:: matsrc.func

Online Demo


The online demo is highly outdated!

The test docs in the repository are online here: http://bwanamarko.alwaysdata.net/matlabdomain/


Sphinx style markup are used to document parameters, types, returns and exceptions. There must be a blank comment line before and after the parameter descriptions.