Developing Documentation

OpenFAST documentation is hosted on readthedocs. It is automatically generated through the readthedocs build system from both the main and dev branches whenever new commits are added. This documentation uses the restructured text markup language. Building this documentation locally

The documentation is compiled with Sphinx, which is a Python based tool. Install it and the other required Python packages listed in openfast/docs/requirements.txt with pip or another Python package manager.

These additional packages are optional and are not included in the requirements file:

Doxygen and Graphviz can be installed directly from their website or with a package manager like brew, yum, or apt.

The result of building the documentation locally will be a set of HTML files and their accompanying required files. The main HTML file will exist openfast/build/docs/html/index.html. This file can be opened with any browser to view and navigate the locally-generated documentation as if it were any other web site. Pure python build

If CMake and Make are not available on your system, the documentation can be generated directly with sphinx.


This method does not generate the API documentation through Doxygen.

First, align your directory structure to the standard OpenFAST build by creating a directory at openfast/build. Then, move into openfast/build and run this command:

# sphinx-build -b <builder-name> <source-directory> <output-directory>
sphinx-build -b html ../docs ./docs/html

If this completes successfully, an html file will be created at build/docs/html/index.html which can be opened with any web browser. Building with CMake and Make

In the OpenFAST directory, create a build directory and move into it. Then, run CMake with this flag: -DBUILD_DOCUMENTATION=ON. CMake will configure the build system with the necessary files for building the documentation.

Next, run the command to compile the docs:

make docs

This will first build the Doxygen API documentation and then the Sphinx documentation. If this completes successfully, a html file will be created at build/docs/html/index.html which can be opened with any web browser.

The full procedure for configuring and building the documentation is:

mkdir build
cd build
make docs

If any modifications are made to the source files in openfast/docs/source, you can simply update the html files by executing the make command again.

The table below lists make-targets related to the documentation.



Output location

Full docs

make docs


Full docs

make sphinx


Doxygen API Reference

make doxygen

HTML only

make sphinx-html


PDF only

make sphinx-pdf

openfast/build/docs/latex/Openfast.pdf Adding documentation

Coming soon. Feel like contributing? Start here!