This document contains information about a future release and not the current stable version (3.1).

Be aware that information on this page may change and API's may not be stable for production use.

Contributing Documentation

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Documentation for a software project is a continued and collaborative effort, we encourage everybody to contribute, from simply fixing spelling mistakes, to writing recipes/howtos, reviewing existing documentation, and translating the whole thing.

Modifying documentation requires basic PHPDoc and Markdown/SSMarkdown knowledge, and a GitHub user account.

Editing online

The easiest way of making a change to the documentation is by clicking the "Edit this page" link at the bottom of the page you want to edit. Alternativly, you can find the appropriate .md file in the github.com/silverstripe/silverstripe-framework repository and press the "edit" button. You will need a GitHub account to do this. You should make the changes in the lowest branch they apply to.

  • After you have made your change, describe it in the "commit summary" and "extended description" fields below, and press "Commit Changes".
  • After that you will see form to submit a Pull Request. You should just be able to submit the form, and your changes will be sent to the core team for approval.

Editing on your computer

If you prefer to edit the content on your local machine, you can "fork" the github.com/silverstripe/silverstripe-framework and github.com/silverstripe/silverstripe-cms repositories and send us "pull requests". If you have downloaded SilverStripe or a module, chances are that you already have these checkouts.

The documentation is kept alongside the source code in the docs/ subfolder.

Note: If you submit a new feature or an API change, we strongly recommend that your patch includes updates to the necessary documentation. This helps prevent our documentation from getting out of date.

Repositories

  • End-user: userhelp.silverstripe.org - a custom SilverStripe project (not open sourced at the moment).
  • Developer Guides: doc.silverstripe.org - powered by a SilverStripe project that uses the "docsviewer" module to convert Markdown formatted files into searchable HTML pages with index lists. Its contents are fetched from different releases automatically every couple of minutes.
  • Developer API Documentation: api.silverstripe.org - powered by a customized phpDocumentor template, and is regenerated automatically every night.

Source Control

In order to balance editorial control with effective collaboration, we keep documentation alongside the module source code, e.g. in framework/docs/, or as code comments within PHP code. Contributing documentation is the same process as providing any other patch (see Contributing code).

What to write

  • API Docs: Written alongside source code and displayed on api.silverstripe.com. This documents the low-level, technical usage of a class, method or property. Not suited for longer textual descriptions, due to the limited support of PHPDoc formatting for headlines.
  • Tutorials: The first contact for new users, guiding them step-by-step through achievable projects, in a book-like style. Example: Building a basic site
  • Topics: Provides an overview on how things fit together, the "conceptual glue" between APIs and features. This is where most documentation should live, and is the natural "second step" after finishing the tutorials. Example: Templates, Testing, Datamodel
  • Howto: Recipes that solve a specific task or problem, rather than describing a feature. Example: Export DataObjects as CSV, Customizing TinyMCE in the CMS
  • Reference: Complements API docs in providing deeper introduction into a specific API. Most documentation should fit elsewhere. Example: ModelAdmin
  • Misc: "Meta" documentation like coding conventions that doesn't directly relate to a feature or API.

See What to write (jacobian.org) for an excellent introduction to the different types of documentation, and Producing OSS: "Documentation" for good rules of thumb for documenting opensource software.

Structure

  • Don't duplicate: Search for existing places to put your documentation. Do you really require a new page, or just a new paragraph of text somewhere?
  • Use PHPDoc in source code: Leave lowlevel technical documentation to code comments within PHP, in PHPDoc format.
  • Use Markdown in Developer Guides: We have a slightly customized version of Markdown called SSMarkdown
  • API and Developer Guides complement each other: Both forms of documenting sourcecode (API and Developer Guides) are valueable ressources.
  • Provide context: Give API documentation the "bigger picture" by referring to Developer Guides inside your PHPDoc.
  • Make your documentation findable: Documentation lives by interlinking content, so please make sure your contribution doesn't become an inaccessible island. Your page should at least be linked on the index page in the same folder. It can also appear as "related content" on other resource (e.g. /topics/search might link to howto/search-dataobjects).
  • Avoid FAQs: FAQs are not a replacement of a coherent, well explained documentation. If you've done a good job documenting, there shouldn't be any "frequently asked questions" left ;)
  • Commit early and often: You don't need to completely finish documentation, as long as you mark areas needing refinement.
  • Every file should have exactly one <h1> headline, roughly matching the filename. It should be short enough to be used in table of content lists.

Writing Style

  • Write in second plural form: Use "we" instead of "I". It gives the text an instructive and collaborative style.
  • Its okay to address the reader: For example "First you'll install a webserver" is good style.
  • Write in an active and direct voice
  • Mark up correctly: Use preformatted text, emphasis and bold to make technical writing more "scannable".

Highlighted blocks

There are several built-in block styles for highlighting a paragraph of text. Please use these graphical elements sparingly.

"Tip box": Adds, deepens or accents information in the main text. Can be used for background knowledge, or "see also" links.

Code:

<div class="hint" markdown='1'>
...
</div>
"Notification box": Technical notifications relating to the main text. For example, notifying users about a deprecated feature.

Code:

<div class="notice" markdown='1'>
...
</div>
"Warning box": Highlight a severe bug or technical issue requiring a users attention. For example, a code block with destructive functionality might not have its URL actions secured to keep the code shorter.

Code:

<div class="warning" markdown='1'>
...
</div>

See Markdown Extra Documentation for more restriction on placing HTML blocks inside Markdown.

Translating Documentation

Documentation is kept alongside the source code, typically in a module subdirectory like framework/docs/en/. Each language has its own subfolder, which can duplicate parts or the whole body of documentation. German documentation would for example live in framework/docs/de/. The docsviewer module that drives doc.silverstripe.org automatically resolves these subfolders into a language dropdown.

Further reading

Comments

Comment policy: Please use comments for tips and corrections about the described functionality.
Comments are moderated, we reserve the right to remove comments that are inappropriate or are no longer relevant. Use the Silverstripe Forum to ask questions.

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