by michaeljones

michaeljones /breathe

ReStructuredText and Sphinx bridge to Doxygen

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.. image:: :target:

This is an extension to reStructuredText and Sphinx to be able to read and render the Doxygen xml output.


Breathe is available from github and

PyPI, the Python Package Index
_. It can be installed with::
pip install breathe


The documentation is available

_. Thank you to the people running
Read the Docs 
for such an excellent service.

The source for the documentation is in the

folder if you want to built it and read it locally.

Note ~~~~

Breathe does not always get the attention it deserves but I am keen to keep it moving forward. If you report an issue, please keep reminding me about it until it is fixed. I should be better at this but in silence I tend to move to other things so keep reminding me.


The testsuite can be run with::

make dev-test

The documentation also does a good effort of covering the available functionality with different examples. To build the documentation, run::


This will run doxygen over the example code and then run the Breathe documentation. View the results at::


Further to this if you want to compare the current documentation output against a previous state in order to check for regressions there is a

script in the
folder. It takes two arguments which are two commit references that you'd like to compare. This means that all your changes have to be committed first. Also the script does not resolve state dependent references like
so provide concrete commit references like sha1s or branch names. A typical example is to compare your current branch output to master::
# Make sure all your changes are committed first
cd documentation
./compare master my-branch

This will do a checkout and build at each commit and then run

against the resulting directories so you can see the differences introduced by your branch.


Development is currently done with:

  • Python 3.5
  • Docutils 0.12
  • Sphinx 2.3.1
  • Doxygen 1.8.4

Doxygen 1.5.1 seems to produce xml with repeated sections which causes Breathe some confusion. Not sure when this was resolved but it might be best to go for the latest possible.

Mailing List Archives

The archive for the Google groups list can be found


The previous mailing list was on 
__ and the archives are available

Please post new questions as GitHub issues.


Examples of Breathe used by other projects:

  • fmt 
  • Lasso C API 
    _ [

If you have an example you would like listed here, please make a github issue with the details.


Breathe is not the only solution to this problem. These are the alternatives that we know about. We are very happy to list others if you'd like to provide a link in a GitHub issue.

  • Gasp 
  • Robin 
  • sphinxcontrib-autodoc_doxygen 


Command for releasing source bundle & wheel to PyPI::

python sdist bdist_wheel upload


Breathe is currently maintained by

_ and was formerly maintained by
_ &
_, contributors include:
  • nijel 
  • sebastianschaetz 
  • mbolivar 
  • queezythegreat 
  • abingham 
  • davidm 
  • hobu 
  • magro11 
  • scopatz 
  • vonj 
  • jmnas 
  • donkopotamus 
  • jo3w4rd 
  • Anthony Truchet 
  • Daniel Matz 
  • Andrew Hundt 
  • sebastinas 
  • robo9k 
  • sieben 
  • rweickelt 
  • sam-roth 
  • bnewbold 
  • serge-sans-paille 
  • dean0x7d 
  • Andne 
  • Tiwalun 
  • eric-wieser 
  • olitheolix 
  • Many more, this list is rather outdated. Refer to the git history.

Thanks to:

  • Dimitri van Heesch for
  • Georg Brandl for
  • David Goodger for
    _ and reStructuredText.

Change Log

Inspired by 
  • Unreleased - Breathe v4.20.1

    • Fix Read the Docs build. #567
    • Document doxygenclass template specialisation spacing. #570
    • Update upper Sphinx release to <3.4. #571
    • Reuse breathe.version in #572
    • Document :inner: for the doxygengroup section. #573
  • 2020-08-19 - Breathe v4.20.0

    • Allow Sphinx 3.2. #561
    • Update CI scripts with new Sphinx versions. #552
    • Add support for C# using sphinx-csharp. #550
    • Doc, fix typo, :source: -> :project:. #551
    • Add support for innergroup. #556
    • Avoid duplicate doxygen targets when debug tracing. #563
    • Remove Travis badge from README file. #564
  • 2020-06-17 - Breathe v4.19.2

    • Fix crash when visiting typedef. #547
  • 2020-06-08 - Breathe v4.19.1

    • Mark package as compatible with Sphinx 3.1.
  • 2020-06-07 - Breathe v4.19.0

    • Refactoring. #528
    • Make debug config variables available in #533
    • Fix warning formatting for function lookup. #535
    • Correctly reverse nested namespaces in get_qualification. #540
  • 2020-05-10 - Breathe v4.18.1

    • Fix friend class rendering and allow friend struct. #522
    • Add extern examples to doc and remove variable hack. #526
    • Render function candidates without using Sphinx directives. #524
  • 2020-05-02 - Breathe v4.18.0

    • Support tiles in verbatim blocks. #517
  • 2020-05-01 - Breathe v4.17.0

    • Scoped rendering, better integration with Sphinx, misc fixes. #512
  • 2020-04-19 - Breathe v4.16.0

    • Strictly depend on Sphinx's minor version. #498
    • Simplifications and fixes, use more of modern Sphinx natively. #503
    • Add section option to the doxygen(auto)file directive. #501
    • Fix link generation when enum is inside a group (enum FQDN). #508
    • Fix creation of LaTeX math formulas. #506
    • Improve documentation for doxygen(auto)file section option. #509
  • 2020-04-07 - Breathe v4.15.0

    • Add license file to distribution. #492
    • Update for Sphinx 3. #491
  • 2020-04-07 - Breathe v4.14.2

    • Add GitHub actions. #474
    • Fixes to use Sphinx 2.4.4. #486
    • Add nose to python development requirements. #484.
    • Switch to pytest from nose. #487
  • 2020-02-02 - Breathe v4.14.1

    • Use sphinx core instead of mathbase ext. #469
    • Fix test failure for Sphinx >= 2.2.2. #472
    • Update travis to Sphinx 2.3.1. #471
  • 2019-11-26 - Breathe v4.14.0

    • Add events attribute to MockApp. #452
    • Add bit field support for C/C++. #454
    • Add alias and variable template support. #461
  • 2019-08-01 - Breathe v4.13.1

    • Fix for template method pointer parameter issue. #449
  • 2019-04-23 - Breathe v4.13.0.post0

    • Drop support for python 2, require Sphinx >= 2.0. #432
  • 2019-04-21 - Breathe v4.13.0

    • Adapt to upcoming Sphinx 2.0. #411
    • Add support for rendering parameter direction information. #428
  • 2019-03-15 - Breathe v4.12.0

    • Adapt to Sphinx 1.8. #410
    • Let Sphinx handle more things. #412
    • Use standard windows EOL for batch file. #417
    • Fix flake8 F632 warnings. #418
    • Update dep versions in readme, setup, requirements. #419
    • Add option to render function parameters after the description. #421
    • Remove spurious "typedef" in type declaration when using "using". #424
  • 2018-12-11 - Breathe v4.11.1

    • Sphinxrenderer: handle typeless parameters gracefully. #404
  • 2018-10-31 - Breathe v4.11.0

    • Fix typo in quickstart. #393
    • Add support for QtSignals. #401
  • 2018-08-07 - Breathe v4.10.0

    • Explicitly use Sphinx 1.7.5 for CI and dev. #385
    • Print filename when printing ParserException. #390
  • 2018-06-03 - Breathe v4.9.1

    • Don't append separator for paragraph type. #382
  • 2018-06-01 - Breathe v4.9.0

    • Render newlines as separate paragraphs. #380
  • 2018-05-26 - Breathe v4.8.0

    • Add quiet option to apidoc. #375
    • Add PHP domain. #351
    • Keep templates on adjacent lines. #300
    • Show reference qualification for methods. #332
    • Adapt tests/CI to newest Sphinx version. #377
    • More robust name regex in renderer. #370
    • Show base classes using Sphinx's cpp domain. #295
    • Fix domain detection when rendering groups. #365
    • Return parallel{read,write}safe true for Sphinx's -j. #376
  • 2017-10-09 - Breathe v4.7.3

    • Support for enums in the cpp domain.
    • Handle case where compoundref does not have a refid value associated.
  • 2017-08-15 - Breathe v4.7.2

    • Fix issue with packaging on Python 2.7 with wheels.
  • 2017-08-13 - Breathe v4.7.1

    • Fixed bug regarding code snippets inside Doxygen comments.
  • 2017-08-09 - Breathe v4.7.0

    • New
      option to prevent documenting namespace and files
    • New boolean
      option specifying whether value of macros should be displayed.
    • New boolean
      option controlling whether the refids generated by breathe for doxygen elements contain the project name or not.
    • Fixed
    • Support for Sphinx 1.6
  • 2017-02-25 - Breathe v4.6.0

    • Support for the Interface directive
    • Display the contents of defines
  • 2017-02-12 - Breathe v4.5.0

    • Improve handling of c typedefs
    • Support new
    • Add
      flag to breathe-apidoc helper
    • Dropped testing for Python 3.3 and added 3.6
  • 2016-11-13 - Breathe v4.4.0

    • Improve single line parameter documentation rendering
  • 2016-11-05 - Breathe v4.3.1

    • Version bump package confusion with wheel release
  • 2016-11-05 - Breathe v4.3.0

    • Rewritten rendering approach to use the visitor pattern
    • Dropped support for 2.6 & added testing for 3.5
    • Fixed
    • Issue with running breathe-apidoc for the first time.
    • Improved handling of qualifiers, eg. const & volatile.
    • Supports functions in structs
    • Supports auto-doxygen code path on Windows
  • 2016-03-19 - Breathe v4.2.0

    • Added
    • Output links to a class' parents & children.
    • Support for Sphinx's
      config option.
    • breathe-apidoc script for generating ReStructuredText stub files with Breathe directives from doxygen xml files.
    • Fixed
    • Handling default values in parameter declarations
    • Output order not being reproducible due to iteration over Set.
    • Handling of multiple pointers and references
    • SEVERE: Duplicate ID
      warnings when using function overloads.
    • Use project name for link references when using default project. So we use the project name instead of 'project0'.
  • 2015-08-27 - Breathe v4.1.0

    • Added
    • breathe_doxygen_config_options
      config variable which allows for adding more config lines to the doxygen file used for the auto-directives.
    • Fixed
    • Display of array & array reference parameters for functions.
    • Handling of links to classes with template arguments.
    • Handling of unnamed enums in C.
    • Naming of template parameter section.
    • Finding functions that are within groups.
    • Rendering of 'typename' and 'class' keywords for templates.
  • 2015-04-02 - Breathe v4.0.0

    • Significant work on the code base with miminal reStructureText interface changes. To be documented.
  • 2014-11-09 - Breathe v3.2.0

    • Nothing Added, Deprecated or Removed
    • Fixed
    • Changed docutils/Sphinx node usage to fix latex/pdf output.
    • When checking for path separators check for both
      regardless of the platform.
    • KeyError
      when using
      directives without specifying the
      option even though the default project config setting was set.
    • Use of
      no longer inappropriately triggers the duplicate target check and fails to output link targets.
    • Support for inline urls in the doxygen comments.
    • Support for array notation in function parameters.
    • Reduced intention by changing
      to use
      nodes rather than
      nodes with signatures & content. Now headings like 'Public Functions' appear inline with their subject matter.
  • 2014-09-07 - Breathe v3.1.0

    • Nothing Deprecated or Removed
    • Added
    • The
      directive can now reference template specialisations by specifying the specialisation in the argument name.
    • Fixed
    • Displaying function parameters for Qt slots output. Previously they were missing even though Qt Slots are essentially just functions.
    • Displaying headings from doxygen comments as emphasized text.
    • Crash when generating warning about being unable to find a define, variable, enum, typedef or union.
    • Only output the definition name for a function parameter if the declartion name is not available. Previously, where they were both available we were getting two names next to each other for no good reason.
  • 2014-08-04 - Breathe v3.0.0

    • Improve output of const, volatile, virtual and pure-virtual keywords.
    • Fix css class output for HTML so that object types rather than names are output as the css classes. eg. 'function' instead of 'myFunction'.
    • Fix issue with Breathe getting confused over functions appearing in header and implementation files.
    • Improve matching for overloaded functions when using
      directive. Also, provide a list of potential matches when no match is found.
    • Improved
      implementation to handle inner classes properly.
    • Updated
      to share the
      implementation path which grants it the options from
    • Added
      option support to
    • Added
    • Added
      option to
    • Breaking change: Removed
      option for
      directives and replaced it with
      , and changed
      config variable to
      . This is designed to more closely match the Sphinx autodoc functionality and interface.
  • 2014-06-15 - Breathe v2.0.0

    • Add compare script for checking changes to documentation caused by changes in the implementation.
    • Switched to
      reference for MathJax Javascript.
    • Breaking change: Change
      directives to require explicitly declared source files in the
      rather than attempting to detect them from the directive arguments.
    • Switch documentation hosting to
    • Breaking change: Switch to assuming all relative paths are relative to the directory holding the
      file. Previously, it would assume they were relative to the user's current working directory. This breaks projects which use separate build & source directories.
    • Add
    • Add
    • Add support for lists in the output. They were previously ignored.
    • Updated implementation to use the docutils nodes that Sphinx does where possible.
  • Breathe v1.2.0

    • Change log not recorded.

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