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README.md

freeCodeCamp Guide

The freeCodeCamp community is building a massive, searchable "Guide." This reference tool will eventually include thousands of articles that cover all areas of development, design, and data science - all written to be easily understood by people new to coding.

This repo is where we plan and maintain these Guide articles, which we then host on our community's wiki-like Guide website.

Table of Contents

What are Guide articles?

Guide articles can be an explanation of syntax, design pattern(s), what aria labels are for, or something like what the numbers mean in the top right-hand corner of your screen when at freecodecamp.org. You can find an example article about HTML Elements here.

What can I write an article about?

We welcome your help writing these articles. You don't have to be an expert in a topic to write about it - this entire Guide is open source, so even if you make a mistake, another contributor will eventually correct it.

To help, find a stub article on our Guide website, write the article, then open a pull request (PR) to replace the stub with your article.

If you can't find a stub about the topic you'd like to write about, you can open a PR that creates the stub and includes your draft article. Feel free to ask us questions if you're not sure where to put a new article in the directory structure.

Before you begin writing, make sure to read the article style guide below.

How to contribute

You can create a PR (Pull Request) with your draft article (or edits on an existing article) in two ways:

  1. The easiest method is to use the GitHub interface. Watch the video demonstration or follow the steps below it:

Gif showing the GitHub interface steps

  • Go into the "pages" folder (located in guides/src) and find the article stub you'd like to write or edit. All stubs will be in an index.md file
  • Click the "Edit this file" pencil icon and make your changes to the file in GitHub-flavored Markdown
  • Scroll to the bottom of the screen and add a commit message explaining your changes. Then select the radio button option for "Create a new branch for this commit and start a pull request" and click "Propose file changes"
  • On the next screen, you can add any other details about your PR, then click "Create pull request"
  1. If you prefer to write locally before submitting a PR, then follow these steps:
  • Fork this repository
  • Copy it to your local machine by running the command git clone https://github.com/YOUR-GITHUB-USERNAME/guides.git
  • Add a remote upstream so git knows where the official freeCodeCamp guides repository is located by running the command git remote add upstream https://github.com/freeCodeCamp/guides.git
  • Create a new branch for your work with the command git checkout -b NEW-BRANCH-NAME. Try to name your branch in a way that describes your article topic, like fix/ArticleHTMLElements
  • Write your article, commit your changes locally with the command git commit -m "SHORT MESSAGE", and push your new branch to GitHub with the command git push origin NEW-BRANCH-NAME
  • Go to your repository on GitHub and open a PR

Make sure to maintain your local fork going forward so it stays up-to-date with the freeCodeCamp guides repository. The next time you want to contribute, checkout your local master branch and run the command git pull --rebase upstream master before creating a new branch. This will grab all the changes on the official master branch without making an additional commit in your local repository.

Running the Guide locally on your own computer

Finally, if you want to run a version of the guides repository locally, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure you have the yarn package manager installed npm install -g yarn
  2. Fork this repository
  3. 👇
git clone https://github.com/YOUR-GITHUB-USERNAME/guides.git
cd guides
yarn install
yarn run dev

When you run yarn run dev, build takes little time. So wait until you see something like Compiled successfully. Then you will be able to see something like Your site is running at http://localhost:8000. Now point your browser at http://localhost:8000

In this project, we are using yarn because netlify builds our site with yarn.

Article style guide

We've written the following guide to writing Guide articles to help you get started contributing.

Table of Contents

Article title

Article titles should be as short, concise, and to-the-point as possible. We want campers to quickly find the information they're looking for, and the title should reflect the main theme of the article.

Folder name is used in the URL, so only use dashes -, numbers 0-9, and lowercase letters a-z for it.

Here are some examples:

  • src/pages/html/tables/index.html (link)
---
title: Tables
---
  • src/pages/css/borders/index.md (link)
---
title: Borders
---
  • src/pages/javascript/loops/for-loop/index.md (link)
---
title: For Loop
---

However, you can include special characters in the article title.

Modularity

Each article should explain exactly one concept and that concept should be apparent from the article's title.

We can reference other articles by linking to them inline or in an "More information:" section at the end of the article.

Our goal is to have thousands of articles that cover a broad range of technical topics.

General writing tips

Before you begin writing, create an outline of the topic and think about any coding examples you'll use (if applicable). This helps to organize your thoughts and make the writing process easier.

Articles should be written with short, clear sentences, and use as little jargon as necessary. All jargon should be defined immediately in plain English.

The introduction paragraph should only be 1-2 sentences long and be a simple explanation of the main topic. It should limit the use of any links to other Guide articles, as they can be distracting.

Keep paragraphs short (around 1-4 sentences). People are more likely to read several short paragraphs over a wall of text.

Use active voice instead of passive voice. Generally, it's a stronger and more straightforward way to communicate a subject. For example:

  • (Passive) The for loop in JavaScript is used by programmers to...
  • (Active) Programmers use the for loop in JavaScript to...

If you want to abbreviate a term in your article, write it out fully first, then put the abbreviation in parentheses. For example, "In computer science, an abstract syntax tree (AST) is ..."

Text should use the second person ("you") to help to give it a conversational tone. This way, the text and instructions seem to speak directly to the camper reading it. Try to avoid using the first person ("I", "we", "let's", and "us").

If there are other Guide resources you think campers would benefit from, add them at the bottom in an "Other Resources" section.

You can add diagrams, graphics, or visualizations as necessary. You can also embed relevant YouTube videos and interactive REPL.it code editors.

Don't use emojis or emoticons in the Guide. freeCodeCamp has a global community, and the cultural meaning of an emoji or emoticon may be different around the world. Also, emojis can render differently on different systems.

Use double quotes where applicable.

Format language keywords as code - this is done with the backtick key (located to the left of the "1" key on a US keyboard) in GitHub-flavored markdown. For example, put backticks around HTML tag names or CSS property names.

Use the Oxford Comma when possible (it is a comma used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, before ‘and’ or ‘or’ e.g. an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect). It makes things easier, clearer, and prettier to read.

Attribution

To minimize the potential for plagiarism and maintain integrity in these guides, it is important to give credit where necessary. Any material quoted, or used directly and unchanged, from source material should be wrapped in quotation marks and be adequately cited. Material that is not a direct quote but is still paraphrased from a different resource should also be cited. You can create superscript numerals to mark content that is cited using <sup></sup> tags. Like so: 1

Then, at the bottom of your article, place a ### Sources heading and include all of your citations numbered to correspond with your marks above:

Here is some content that should be cited.1 And here is even more that should be cited from another source.2

Sources

  1. Doe, John. "Authoring Words." WikiCoder. January 1, 1970. Accessed: October 20, 2017
  2. Purdue OWL Staff. "MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources." Purdue Online Writing Lab. October 12, 2017. Accessed: October 20, 2017.
You can check out the Purdue link above to see how to properly cite web sources (they even show how to cite tweets!). Typically, an attribution has a structure like the following:

Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Article Title." Publication. Publisher. Date Published. Date Accessed.

If you cannot find an author or published date, which is common, simply omit these.

Use of proper citations will not only keep the guides reputable, but these citations and links will also provide valuable resources should the reader want to learn more about the topic. Also note that instances of blatant plagiarism will be either removed or have their pull requests declined, and the user will receive a warning. Please refer to and review the Academic Honesty Policy before contributing.

Formatting example code

Campers will likely use Guide articles as a quick reference to look up the syntax. Articles should have simple real-world examples that show common-use cases of that syntax.

Here are specific formatting guidelines for any code:

  • JavaScript statements end with a semicolon

  • Use double quotes where applicable

  • Show generally-accepted best practices, particularly for accessibility

  • Comments made should have a space between the comment characters and the comment themselves

    // Fix this line

  • GitHub-flavored markdown supports syntax highlighting in code blocks for many programming languages. To use it, indicate the language after starting ```

      ```html
      <div class='awesome' id='more-awesome'>
      <p>This is text in html</p>
      </div>
      ```
    
      ```javascript
      function logTheThings(stuff) {
        console.log(stuff);
      }
      ```
    
      ```css
      .awesome {
        background-color: #FCCFCC;
      }
      ```
    

Adding images to articles

For including images, if the images aren't already hosted somewhere else on the web, you'll need to put them online yourself. A good way to do this is to commit them to a GitHub repository of your own, then push them to GitHub. Then you can right-click the image and copy its image source.

Then you'd just need to reference them in your markdown file with this syntax:

![your alt text](your url)

Then the images should show up when you click the "preview changes" tab.

Adding links to articles

Use Markdown style links in your articles to link to other websites.

[freeCodeCamp](https://www.freecodecamp.org/)

Proper nouns

Proper nouns should use correct capitalization when possible. Below is a list of words as they should appear in Guide articles.

  • JavaScript (capital letters in "J" and "S" and no abbreviations)
  • Node.js
  • jQuery
  • SQL

Front-end development (adjective form with a dash) is when you are working on the front end (noun form with no dash). The same goes with the back end, full stack, and many other compound terms.

Where to get help

Technical writing, or the literature of science and technology, is hard. You'll need to take a technical (usually abstract) topic and explain it in a clear, accurate, and objective manner. You'll likely go through several rounds of proofreading and editing before you're happy with the result.

Use the Hemingway App. There’s nothing magical about this simple tool, but it will automatically detect widely agreed-upon style issues:

  • passive voice
  • unnecessary adverbs
  • words that have more common equivalents

The Hemingway App will assign a “grade level” for your writing. You should aim for a grade level of 6. Another tool available is the De-Jargonizer, originally designed for scientific communication but might help avoid overspecialized wording.

Also, there's a community of support from a whole team of contributors, whom you can bounce ideas off of and ask for input on your writing. Stay active in the contributor's chat room and ask lots of questions.

With your help, we can create a comprehensive reference tool that will help millions of people who are learning to code for years to come.

License

Copyright (c) 2017 freeCodeCamp.

The content of this repository is bound by the following licenses:

  • The computer software is licensed under the BSD-3-Clause.
  • The reference content as in ./src/pages and subdirectories is licensed under the CC-BY-SA-4.0.
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