sphinx-multiversion reads your Sphinx file for configuration. As usual, you can also override certain options by using -D var=value on the command line.

This is what the default configuration looks like:

# Whitelist pattern for tags (set to None to ignore all tags)
smv_tag_whitelist = r'^.*$'

# Whitelist pattern for branches (set to None to ignore all branches)
smv_branch_whitelist = r'^.*$'

# Whitelist pattern for remotes (set to None to use local branches only)
smv_remote_whitelist = None

# Pattern for released versions
smv_released_pattern = r'^tags/.*$'

# Format for versioned output directories inside the build directory
smv_outputdir_format = '{}'

# Determines whether remote or local git branches/tags are preferred if their output dirs conflict
smv_prefer_remote_refs = False

You can override all of these values inside your


You can check which tags/branches are matched by running sphinx-multiversion with the --dump-metadata flag. Branches or tags that don’t contain both the sphinx source directory and the file will be skipped automatically.

Tag/Branch/Remote whitelists

Tags, Branches and Remotes are included by Regular Expressions. Here are some examples:

smv_tag_whitelist = r'^.*$'                   # Include all tags
smv_tag_whitelist = r'^v\d+\.\d+$'            # Include tags like "v2.1"

smv_branch_whitelist = r'^.*$'                # Include all branches
smv_branch_whitelist = r'^(?!master).*$'      # Include all branches except "master"

smv_remote_whitelist = None                   # Only use local branches
smv_remote_whitelist = r'^.*$'                # Use branches from all remotes
smv_remote_whitelist = r'^(origin|upstream)$' # Use branches from origin and upstream


To list values to match, you can use git branch, git tag and git remote.

Release Pattern

A Regular Expression is used to determine if a version of the documentation has been released or if it’s a development version. To allow more flexibility, the regex is evaluated over the full refname.

Here are some examples:

smv_released_pattern = r'^tags/.*$'           # Tags only
smv_released_pattern = r'^heads/\d+\.\d+$'    # Branches like "2.1"
smv_released_pattern = r'^(tags/.*|heads/\d+\.\d+)$'           # Branches like "2.1" and all tags
smv_released_pattern = r'^(heads|remotes/[^/]+)/(?!:master).*$' # Everything except master branch


To list all refnames , you can use:

git for-each-ref --format "%(refname)" | sed 's/^refs\///g'

Output Directory Format

Each version will be built into a seperate subdirectory of the Sphinx output directory. The smv_outputdir_format setting determines the directory structure for the subdirectories. It is a new-style Python formatting string with two parameters - ref and config.

Here are some examples:

smv_outputdir_format = '{}'        # Use the branch/tag name
smv_outputdir_format = '{ref.commit}'      # Use the commit hash
smv_outputdir_format = '{ref.commit:.7s}'  # Use the commit hash truncated to 7 characters
smv_outputdir_format = '{ref.refname}'     # Use the full refname
smv_outputdir_format = '{ref.source}/{}'      # Equivalent to the previous example
smv_outputdir_format = 'versions/{config.release}'    # Use "versions" as parent directory and the "release" variable from
smv_outputdir_format = '{config.version}/{}'  # Use the version from as parent directory and the branch/tag name as subdirectory

See also

Have a look at PyFormat for information how to use new-stye Python formatting.

Overriding Configuration Variables

You can override configuration variables the same way as you’re used to with sphinx-build.

Since sphinx-multiversion copies the branch data into a temporary directory and builds them there while leaving the current working directory unchanged, relative paths in your will refer to the path of the version you’re building from, not the path of the version you are trying to build documentation for.

Sometimes it might be necessary to override the configured path via a command line overide. sphinx-multiversion allows you to insert placeholders into your override strings that will automatically be replaced with the correct value for the version you’re building the documentation for.

Here’s an example for the exhale extension:

sphinx-multiversion docs build/html -D 'exhale_args.containmentFolder=${sourcedir}/api'


Make sure to enclose the override string in single quotes (') to prevent the shell from treating it as an environment variable and replacing it before it’s passed to sphinx-multiversion.


To see a list of available placeholder names and their values for each version you can use the --dump-metadata flag.