PyMOTW: pydoc - Online help for Python modules

By Doug Hellmann
August 9, 2009

pydoc – Online help for Python modules

Purpose:Generates help for Python modules and classes from the code.
Python Version:2.1 and later

The pydoc module imports a Python module and uses the contents to generate help text at runtime. The output includes docstrings for any objects that have them, and all of the documentable contents of the module are described.

Plain Text Help

Running:

$ pydoc atexit

Produces plaintext help on the console, using your pager if one is configured.

HTML Help

You can also cause pydoc to generate HTML output, either writing a static file to a local directory or starting a web server to browse documentation online.

$ pydoc -w atexit

Creates atexit.html in the current directory.

$ pydoc -p 5000

Starts a web server listening at http://localhost:5000/. The server generates documentation as you browse through the available modules.

Interactive Help

pydoc also adds a function help() to the __builtins__ so you can access the same information from the Python interpreter prompt.

$ python
Python 2.6.2 (r262:71600, Apr 16 2009, 09:17:39)
[GCC 4.0.1 (Apple Computer, Inc. build 5250)] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> help('atexit')
Help on module atexit:

NAME
atexit

FILE
/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.6/lib/python2.6/atexit.py
...


Examples

See also

pydoc
The standard library documentation for this module.
motw-cli
Accessing the Module of the Week articles from the command line.
motw-interactive
Accessing the Module of the Week articles from the interactive interpreter.

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