Writing DecentCMS documentation

Documentation is considered a feature in DecentCMS, and as such, it is expected that all modules come with tests, API documentation, and documentation topics. Documentation, like tests, are part of the same code repository as the rest of the application or module.

Where to write topics?

Because of DecentCMS's modular nature, and to keep modules self-contained entities, the documentation topics must be included with the module itself.

There are top-level documentation topics, under /docs, that document features and processes that make sense for DecentCMS as a whole, and that are not focused at a specific module.

Documentation for a specific feature must be written in the /docs directory of the module it's a part of.


Both under the top-level /docs directory, and under modules, it's possible to organize your topics into sections. This is done by simply creating subdirectories of the /docs directory. Each section should have an index topic. The title of the index topic gives the title of the section. The name of the section's directory should reflect the title, with all lower case letters, and dashes instead of spaces.

Index topics

Under each /docs directory, and under each section subdirectory, there must be a index.yaml.md file for the index topic.

If the index topic is the only topic in the module or in the section, it should be an extensive explanation of what the module or section is about.

If the index is not the only topic, it should summarize the module or section's purpose, and introduce the other topics under the same scope.

Format of a topic

In principle, any content item format could be used to build documentation topics. The preferred format, however, is snippable YAML + Markdown.

The file name should reflect the title of the topic, all in lower case letters, with dashes instead of spaces.

The YAML header for the topic should have a title property, and a number property that determines the order of the topic within the section or module.

After the -8<------ separator, the Markdown body of the topic can be found.

 title: Some topic
 number: 3


 The *body* of the topic.

One of the core principles of Markdown is that it should be human readable and writable. You should be able to look at a raw Markdown document and read it comfortably. Miguel de Icaza has a great post giving some useful guidelines to writing good Markdown.


An exception to the rules from this post is code snippets: DecentCMS uses GitHub-flavored Markdown, which encourages code to be enclosed in triple quotes ``` with a language identifier attached. For example, a JavaScript code block can be written this way:


External links should be written as named references:

A [link to something][something].
... and then at the end of the topic...
  [something]: http://google.com/something

Links to other topics should also be written as named relative URLs:

A [link to topic foo in module bar][foo-bar].
... and then at the end of the topic...
  [foo-bar]: /docs/decent-bar/foo

Note how the URL uses the module's full technical name, as declared in the module's manifest, so that the link will actually work.

API documentation

The API documentation is automatically extracted from JsDoc comments in the code. For that reason, it's important that all public APIs are decorated with JsDoc comments.

Contributing to existing documentation

Documentation is easy to contribute to. You don't need to know about code repositories, only about Markdown. Once you've found the topic you want to edit on the web site, click "Edit this topic". This will take you to the online editor for that topic, on GitHub.

You must have a GitHub account in order to be able to make changes. Sign up if you don't already have one. Make your changes, enter a short summary of your changes, and click the "Propose file change", or "Commit changes" button.

This will send me a message, so that I can review your changes, and hopefully accept them.

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