Building the nRF Connect SDK documentation

The nRF Connect SDK documentation is written using the reStructuredText markup language (.rst file extension) with Sphinx extensions and processed using Sphinx. API documentation is included from Doxygen comments.

See the Documentation overview section in the Documentation Generation developer guide for information about reStructuredText.

Before you start

Before you can build the documentation, install the nRF Connect SDK as described in Installing the nRF Connect SDK manually. Make sure that you have installed the required Python dependencies.

See the Installing the documentation processors section in the Documentation Generation developer guide for information about installing the required tools to build the documentation and their supported versions.


On Windows, the Sphinx executable sphinx-build.exe is placed in the Scripts folder of your Python installation path. Dependending on how you have installed Python, you may need to add this folder to your PATH environment variable. Follow the instructions in Windows Python Path to add those if needed.

Documentation structure

All documentation build files are located in the ncs/nrf/doc folder. The nrf subfolder in that directory contains all .rst source files that are not directly related to a sample application or a library. Documentation for samples and libraries are provided in a README.rst or *.rst file in the same directory as the code.

Building the documentation output requires building output for all documentation sets. Currently, there are four sets: nrf, nrfxlib, zephyr, and mcuboot. Since there are links from the ncs documentation set into other documentation sets, the other documentation sets must be built first.

Building documentation output

Complete the following steps to build the documentation output:

  1. Create the build folder ncs/nrf/doc/_build.

    • On Windows:

      1. Navigate to ncs/nrf/doc.

      2. Right-click to create a folder and name it _build.

      3. Hold shift and right-click on the new folder. Select Open command window here.

    • On Linux or macOS:

      1. Open a shell window.

      2. Navigate to ncs/nrf/doc. If the ncs folder is in your home directory, enter:

        cd ~/ncs/nrf/doc
      3. Create a folder named _build and enter it:

        mkdir -p _build && cd _build
  2. Load the environment setting for Zephyr builds.

    • On Windows:

    • On Linux or macOS:

      source ../../../zephyr/
  3. Generate the Ninja build files:

    cmake -GNinja ..
  4. Run ninja to build the Zephyr documentation:

    ninja zephyr

    This step can take up to 15 minutes.

  5. Run ninja to build the nrfxlib documentation:

    ninja nrfxlib
  6. Run ninja to build the mcuboot documentation:

    ninja mcuboot
  7. Run ninja to build the nRF Connect SDK documentation:

    ninja nrf

The documentation output is written to _build\html. Double-click the index.html file to display the documentation in your browser.


If you modify or add RST files, you only need to rerun the steps that build the respective documentation: step 4 (if you modified the Zephyr documentation), step 5 (if you modified the nrfxlib documentation), step 6 (if you modified the MCUboot documentation), or step 7 (if you modified the nRF Connect SDK documentation).

If you open up a new command prompt, you must repeat step 2.

Caching and cleaning

To speed up the documentation build, Sphinx processes only those files that have been changed since the last build. In addition, RST files are copied to a different location during the build process. This mechanism can cause outdated or deleted files to be used in the build, or the navigation to not be updated as expected.

If you experience any such problems, clean the build folders before you run the documentation build. Note that this will cause the documentation to be built from scratch, which takes a considerable time.

To clean the build folders for the Zephyr documentation:

ninja clean-zephyr

To clean the build folders for the nrfxlib documentation:

ninja clean-nrfxlib

To clean the build folders for the MCUboot documentation:

ninja clean-mcuboot

To clean the build folders for the nRF Connect SDK documentation:

ninja clean-nrf

Out-of-tree builds

Out-of-tree builds are also supported, so you can actually build from outside the source tree:

# On Linux/macOS
cd ~
source ncs/zephyr/
cd ~
mkdir build
# On Windows
cd %userprofile%
mkdir build

# Use cmake to configure a Ninja-based build system:
cmake -GNinja -Bbuild/ -Hncs/nrf/doc
# Now run ninja on the generated build system:
ninja -C build/ zephyr
ninja -C build/ nrfxlib
ninja -C build/ mcuboot
ninja -C build/ nrf
# If you modify or add .rst files in the nRF repository, run ninja again:
ninja -C build/ nrf

If you want to build the documentation from scratch just delete the contents of the build folder and run cmake and then ninja again.