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Contributing

Thank you for your interest in contributing to the .NET documentation!

We're in the process of moving our guidelines into a site-wide contribution guide. To see the new guidance, visit Microsoft Docs contributor guide overview.

The document covers the process for contributing to the articles and code samples that are hosted on the .NET documentation site. Contributions may be as simple as typo corrections or as complex as new articles.

This repository contains the conceptual documentation for .NET. The .NET documentation site is built from multiple repositories in addition to this one:

Issues and tasks for all these repositories are tracked here.

Process for contributing

You need a basic understanding of Git and GitHub.com.

Step 1: Skip this step for small changes. If you're interested in writing new content or in thoroughly revising existing content, open an issue describing what you want to do. The content inside the docs folder is organized into sections that are reflected in the Table of Contents (TOC). Define where the topic will be located in the TOC. Get feedback on your proposal.

-or-

You can also choose from existing issues for which community contributions are welcome. Projects for .NET Community contributors lists many of the work items that are available for commmunity contributors. Depending on your interests and level of commitment, you can choose from issues in the following categories:

  • Maintenance. This category includes fairly simple contributions, such as fixing broken or incorrect links, adding missing code examples, or addressing limited content issues. In some cases, these issues may concern large numbers of files. In that case, you should let us know what you'd like to work on before you begin.

  • Content updates. Given the enormity of the doc set, content easily becomes outdated and requires revision. In addition, for a variety of reason, some content has been duplicated or even triplicated. Updating content involves making sure that individual topics are current or revising content in a feature area to eliminate duplication and ensure that all unique content is preserved in the smaller documentation set.

  • New content authoring. If you're interested in authoring your own topic, these issues list topics that we know we'd like to add to our doc set. Let us know before you begin working on a topic, though. If you're interested in writing a topic that isn't listed here, open an issue.

You can also look at our open issues list and volunteer to work on the ones you're interested in. We use the up-for-grabs label to tag issues open for contribution.

Step 2: Fork the /dotnet/docs, dotnet/samples or dotnet/dotnet-api-docs repos as needed and create a branch for your changes.

For small changes, you can use GitHub's web interface. Simply click the Edit the file in your fork of this project on the file you'd like to change. GitHub creates the new branch for you when you submit the changes.

Step 3: Make the changes on this new branch.

If it's a new topic, you can use this template file as your starting point. It contains the writing guidelines and also explains the metadata required for each article, such as author information.

Navigate to the folder that corresponds to the TOC location determined for your article in step 1. That folder contains the Markdown files for all articles in that section. If necessary, create a new folder to place the files for your content. The main article for that section is called index.md. For images and other static resources, create a subfolder called media inside the folder that contains your article, if it doesn't already exist. Inside the media folder, create a subfolder with the article name (except for the index file). Include larger samples in the samples folder under the root of the repo.

Be sure to follow the proper Markdown syntax. For more information, see the style guide.

Example structure

docs
  /about
  /core
    /porting
      porting-overview.md
      /media
        /porting-overview
            portability_report.png

Step 4: Submit a Pull Request (PR) from your branch to dotnet/docs/master.

Each PR should usually address one issue at a time. The PR can modify one or multiple files. If you're addressing multiple fixes on different files, separate PRs are preferred.

If your PR is addressing an existing issue, add the Fixes #Issue_Number keyword to the commit message or PR description. That way, the issue is automatically closed when the PR is merged. For more information, see Closing issues via commit messages.

The .NET team will review your PR and let you know if there are any other updates/changes necessary in order to approve it.

Step 5: Make any necessary updates to your branch as discussed with the team.

The maintainers will merge your PR into the master branch once feedback has been applied and your change is approved.

On a certain cadence, we push all commits from master branch into the live branch and then you'll be able to see your contribution live at https://docs.microsoft.com/dotnet/.

Contributing to samples

We make the following distinction for code that exists in our repository:

  • samples: readers can download and run the samples. All samples should be complete applications or libraries. Where the sample creates a library, it should include unit tests or an application that lets readers run the code.

  • snippets: illustrate a smaller concept or task. They compile but they are not intended to be complete applications.

Code all lives in the dotnet/samples repository and is organized as follows:

  • core contains .NET Core samples.

    • The core directory contains samples that highlight .NET Core. The purpose of your sample should be to teach developers something about .NET Core. This includes the framework packaging, the new tooling, or the cross-platform experience. Our CI build server builds these samples on multiple supported platforms. Therefore, every sample must be configured to build on Linux, Mac, and Windows.
  • csharp contains C# language samples.

    • The csharp directory contains samples where the purpose is to explain the C# language. While these samples use frameworks and libraries, their focus is on the C# language. Our CI build server builds these samples on multiple supported platforms. Therefore, every sample must be configured to build on Linux, Mac, and Windows.
  • framework contains .NET Framework samples. These samples are referenced by topics under many different locations in the documentation. These samples build only on Windows.

    • The framework directory contains samples that highlight .NET with platform dependencies. These may include migration samples, platform-specific samples, or other samples that require the framework or the Windows-based tools. Our CI build server builds these samples on Windows only. Do not place any samples here that should be checked for cross-platform builds.
  • snippets contains the code snippets used throughout the documentation. Inside the snippets folder, the folder names identify the language of the code snippet.

We will expand these directories as the docs repository adds new content. For example, we will add Xamarin directories, like xamarin-ios and xamarin-android directories.

Sample code may fit more than one of these areas. In those cases, place the sample so it matches the topics you are covering in your documents. Ask yourself what readers will learn from reading your topic. What will they learn from building and running your sample?

Each complete sample that you create should contain a readme.md file. This file should contain a short description of the sample (one or two paragraphs). Your readme.md should tell readers what they will learn by exploring this sample. The readme.md file should also contain a link to the live document on the .NET documentation site. To determine where a given file in the repository maps to that site, replace /docs in the repository path with http://docs.microsoft.com/dotnet/articles.

Your topic will also contain links to the sample. Link directly to the sample's folder on GitHub.

For more information, see the Samples Readme.

The C# interactive experience

Short code samples in C# can use the csharp-interactive language tag to specify a C# sample that runs in the browser. (Inline code samples use the csharp-interactive tag, for snippets included from source, use the code-csharp-interactive tag.) These code samples display a code window and an output window in the article. The output window displays any output from executing the interactive code once the user has run the sample.

The C# interactive experience changes how we work with samples. Visitors can run the sample to see the results. A number of factors help determine if the sample or corresponding text should include information about the output.

When to display the expected output without running the sample

  • Articles intended for beginners should provide output so that readers can compare the output of their work with the expected answer.
  • Samples where the output is integral to the topic should display that output. For example, articles on formatted text should show the text format without running the sample.
  • When both the sample and the expected output is short, consider showing the output. It saves a bit of time.
  • Articles explaining how current culture or invariant culture affect output should explain the expected output. The interactive REPL (Read Evaluate Print Loop) runs on a Linux-based host. The default culture, and the invariant culture produce different output on different operating systems and machines. The article should explain the output in Windows, Linux, and Mac systems.

When to exclude expected output from the sample

  • Articles where the sample generates a larger output should not include that in comments. It obscures the code once the sample has been run.
  • Articles where the sample demonstrates a topic, but the output isn't integral to understanding it. For example, code that runs a LINQ query to explain query syntax and then display every item in the output collection.

DOs and DON'Ts

The following list shows some guiding rules that you should keep in mind when you're contributing to the .NET documentation:

  • DON'T surprise us with large pull requests. Instead, file an issue and start a discussion so we can agree on a direction before you invest a large amount of time.
  • DO read the style guide and voice and tone guidelines.
  • DO use the template file as the starting point of your work.
  • DO create a separate branch on your fork before working on the articles.
  • DO follow the GitHub Flow workflow.
  • DO blog and tweet (or whatever) about your contributions, frequently!

Note: you might notice that some of the topics are not currently following all the guidelines specified here and on the style guide as well. We're working towards achieving consistency throughout the site. Check the list of open issues we're currently tracking for that specific goal.

Building the docs

Test your changes with the DocFX command-line tool, which creates a locally hosted version of the site. DocFX doesn't render style and site extensions created for docs.microsoft.com.

To build the docs locally, you need to install DocFX. DocFX requires the .NET Framework on Windows, or Mono for Linux or macOS.

Windows instructions

  • Download the latest version of DocFX and unzip docfx.zip.
  • Add DocFX to your PATH.
  • In a command prompt, navigate to the docs directory and run the following command:
docfx -t default --serve
  • In a browser, navigate to http://localhost:8080.

Mono instructions

  • Install Mono via Homebrew - brew install mono.
  • Download the latest version of DocFX.
  • Extract to \bin\docfx.
  • Create an alias for docfx:
function docfx {
  mono $HOME/bin/docfx/docfx.exe
}

function docfx-serve {
  mono $HOME/bin/docfx/docfx.exe serve _site
}
  • Run docfx in the docs directory to build the site, and docfx-serve to view the site at http://localhost:8080.

Contributor License Agreement

You must sign the .NET Foundation Contribution License Agreement (CLA) before your PR is merged. This is a one-time requirement for projects in the .NET Foundation. You can read more about Contribution License Agreements (CLA) on Wikipedia.

The agreement: net-foundation-contribution-license-agreement.pdf

You don't have to sign the agreement up-front. You can clone, fork, and submit your PR as usual. When your PR is created, it is classified by a CLA bot. If the change is trivial (for example, you fixed a typo), then the PR is labeled with cla-not-required. Otherwise, it's classified as cla-required. Once you signed the CLA, the current and all future pull requests are labeled as cla-signed.