Getting Started with MkDocs

An introductory tutorial!


Installation

To install MkDocs, run the following command from the command line:

pip install mkdocs

For more details, see the Installation Guide.

Creating a new project

Getting started is super easy. To create a new project, run the following command from the command line:

mkdocs new my-project
cd my-project

Take a moment to review the initial project that has been created for you.

The initial MkDocs layout

There’s a single configuration file named mkdocs.yml, and a folder named docs that will contain your documentation source files (docs is the default value for the docs_dir configuration setting). Right now the docs folder just contains a single documentation page, named index.md.

MkDocs comes with a built-in dev-server that lets you preview your documentation as you work on it. Make sure you’re in the same directory as the mkdocs.yml configuration file, and then start the server by running the mkdocs serve command:

$ mkdocs serve
INFO    -  Building documentation...
INFO    -  Cleaning site directory
[I 160402 15:50:43 server:271] Serving on http://127.0.0.1:8000
[I 160402 15:50:43 handlers:58] Start watching changes
[I 160402 15:50:43 handlers:60] Start detecting changes

Open up http://127.0.0.1:8000/ in your browser, and you’ll see the default home page being displayed:

The MkDocs live server

The dev-server also supports auto-reloading, and will rebuild your documentation whenever anything in the configuration file, documentation directory, or theme directory changes.

Open the docs/index.md document in your text editor of choice, change the initial heading to MkLorum, and save your changes. Your browser will auto-reload and you should see your updated documentation immediately.

Now try editing the configuration file: mkdocs.yml. Change the site_name setting to MkLorum and save the file.

site_name: MkLorum
site_url: https://example.com/

Your browser should immediately reload, and you’ll see your new site name take effect.

The site_name setting

!!! note

The [`site_name`][site_name] and [`site_url`][site_url] configuration
options are the only two required options in your configuration file. When
you create a new project, the `site_url` option is assigned the placeholder
value: `https://example.com`. If the final location is known, you can change
the setting now to point to it. Or you may choose to leave it alone for now.
Just be sure to edit it before you deploy your site to a production server.

Adding pages

Now add a second page to your documentation:

curl 'https://jaspervdj.be/lorem-markdownum/markdown.txt' > docs/about.md

As our documentation site will include some navigation headers, you may want to edit the configuration file and add some information about the order, title, and nesting of each page in the navigation header by adding a nav setting:

site_name: MkLorum
site_url: https://example.com/
nav:
    - Home: index.md
    - About: about.md

Save your changes and you’ll now see a navigation bar with Home and About items on the left as well as Search, Previous, and Next items on the right.

Screenshot

Try the menu items and navigate back and forth between pages. Then click on Search. A search dialog will appear, allowing you to search for any text on any page. Notice that the search results include every occurrence of the search term on the site and links directly to the section of the page in which the search term appears. You get all of that with no effort or configuration on your part!

Screenshot

Theming our documentation

Now change the configuration file to alter how the documentation is displayed by changing the theme. Edit the mkdocs.yml file and add a theme setting:

site_name: MkLorum
site_url: https://example.com/
nav:
    - Home: index.md
    - About: about.md
theme: readthedocs

Save your changes, and you’ll see the ReadTheDocs theme being used.

Screenshot

Changing the Favicon Icon

By default, MkDocs uses the MkDocs favicon icon. To use a different icon, create an img subdirectory in the docs directory and copy your custom favicon.ico file to that directory. MkDocs will automatically detect and use that file as your favicon icon.

Building the site

That’s looking good. You’re ready to deploy the first pass of your MkLorum documentation. First build the documentation:

mkdocs build

This will create a new directory, named site. Take a look inside the directory:

$ ls site
about  fonts  index.html  license  search.html
css    img    js          mkdocs   sitemap.xml

Notice that your source documentation has been output as two HTML files named index.html and about/index.html. You also have various other media that’s been copied into the site directory as part of the documentation theme. You even have a sitemap.xml file and mkdocs/search_index.json.

If you’re using source code control such as git you probably don’t want to check your documentation builds into the repository. Add a line containing site/ to your .gitignore file.

echo "site/" >> .gitignore

If you’re using another source code control tool you’ll want to check its documentation on how to ignore specific directories.

Other Commands and Options

There are various other commands and options available. For a complete list of commands, use the --help flag:

mkdocs --help

To view a list of options available on a given command, use the --help flag with that command. For example, to get a list of all options available for the build command run the following:

mkdocs build --help

Deploying

The documentation site that you just built only uses static files so you’ll be able to host it from pretty much anywhere. Simply upload the contents of the entire site directory to wherever you’re hosting your website from and you’re done. For specific instructions on a number of common hosts, see the Deploying your Docs page.

Getting help

See the User Guide for more complete documentation of all of MkDocs’ features.

To get help with MkDocs, please use the GitHub discussions or GitHub issues.

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