Documentation Format

The Symfony2 documentation uses reStructuredText as its markup language and Sphinx for building the output (HTML, PDF, ...).


reStructuredText “is an easy-to-read, what-you-see-is-what-you-get plaintext markup syntax and parser system”.

You can learn more about its syntax by reading existing Symfony2 documents or by reading the reStructuredText Primer on the Sphinx website.

If you are familiar with Markdown, be careful as things as sometimes very similar but different:

  • Lists starts at the beginning of a line (no indentation is allowed);
  • Inline code blocks use double-ticks (``like this``).


Sphinx is a build system that adds some nice tools to create documentation from reStructuredText documents. As such, it adds new directives and interpreted text roles to standard reST markup.

Syntax Highlighting

All code examples uses PHP as the default highlighted language. You can change it with the code-block directive:

.. code-block:: yaml

    { foo: bar, bar: { foo: bar, bar: baz } }

If your PHP code begins with <?php, then you need to use html+php as the highlighted pseudo-language:

.. code-block:: html+php

    <?php echo $this->foobar(); ?>


A list of supported languages is available on the Pygments website.

Configuration Blocks

Whenever you show a configuration, you must use the configuration-block directive to show the configuration in all supported configuration formats (PHP, YAML, and XML)

.. configuration-block::

    .. code-block:: yaml

        # Configuration in YAML

    .. code-block:: xml

        <!-- Configuration in XML //-->

    .. code-block:: php

        // Configuration in PHP

The previous reST snippet renders as follow:

  • YAML
    # Configuration in YAML
  • XML
    <!-- Configuration in XML //-->
  • PHP
    // Configuration in PHP

The current list of supported formats are the following:

Markup format Displayed
html HTML
xml XML
php PHP
yaml YAML
jinja Twig
html+jinja Twig
jinja+html Twig
php+html PHP
html+php PHP
ini INI
php-annotations Annotations

Testing Documentation

To test documentation before a commit:

  • Install Sphinx;
  • Run the Sphinx quick setup;
  • Install the Sphinx extensions (see below);
  • Run make html and view the generated HTML in the build directory.

Installing the Sphinx extensions

  • Download the extension from the source repository
  • Copy the sensio directory to the _exts folder under your source folder (where is located)
  • Add the following to the file:
# ...

# adding PhpLexer
from sphinx.highlighting import lexers
from pygments.lexers.web import PhpLexer

# ...
# add the extensions to the list of extensions
extensions = [..., 'sensio.sphinx.refinclude', 'sensio.sphinx.configurationblock', 'sensio.sphinx.phpcode']

# enable highlighting for PHP code not between ``<?php ... ?>`` by default
lexers['php'] = PhpLexer(startinline=True)
lexers['php-annotations'] = PhpLexer(startinline=True)

# use PHP as the primary domain
primary_domain = 'php'

# set url for API links
api_url = ''