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Contributing to the Pony tutorial

Hi there! Thanks for your interest in contributing to the Pony Tutorial. The book is being developed in Markdown and hosted at Gitbook. We welcome external contributors. In fact, we encourage them.

Please note, that by submitting any content to the Pony Tutorial book you are agreeing that it can be licensed under our license. Furthermore, you are testifying that you own the copyright to the submitted content and indemnify Pony Tutorial from any copyright claim that might result from your not being the authorized copyright holder.

How the tutorial is organized

The tutorial layout is in the process of being reogranized. Previously, all content for the tutorial was stored in the docs directory. Within that, there were folders for each section of the book. The sections act as logical groupings for chapters they contain. For new sections, they should be added to the top level of the repo. When creating a new section, be sure to add an file that has the name of section as a level one entry: # as well as an introductory paragraph or two for the section. After reading the introduction, a reader should have a good idea of the type of content covered by the chapters that make up the section.

How to format chapters

Each chapter should start with the title of the chapter as a level one header: # in Markdown. Each section of the page should appear as a second level heading: ##. If you need to have any subsections, make them a third level heading: ###. If you find yourself reaching for a forth level heading, stop and figure out a different way to present the info in that section.

After the title, before diving into your first section, you should have some level of expository text that explains what the reader can expect to get out of reading the page.

Avoid hard-wrapping lines within paragraphs (using line breaks in the middle of or between sentences to make lines shorter than a certain length). Instead, turn on soft-wrapping in your editor and expect the documentation renderer to let the text flow to the width of the container.

How to update the Table of Contents

Table of contents is handled by the file. Each section of the book will appear as a top level item in the list contained in Each topic in turn appears as sub item beneath that. If you added a new section, don't forget to link to both the section as well as the content for your topic.

How to submit a pull request

Once your content is done, please open a pull request against this repo with your changes. Based on the state of your particular PR, a number of requests for change might be requested:

  • Changes to the content
  • Change to where the content appears in the Table of Contents
  • Change to where the markdown file for the content is stored in the repo

Be sure to keep your PR to a single topic or logical change. If you are working on multiple changes, make sure they are each on their own branch and that before creating a new branch that you are on the master branch (others multiple changes might end up in your pull request). To repeat, each PR should be for a single logical change. We request that you create a good commit messages as laid out in 'How to Write a Git Commit Message'.

If your PR is for a single logical change (which is should be) but spans multiple commits, we'll ask you to squash them into a single commit before we merge. Steve Klabnik wrote a handy guide for that: How to squash commits in a GitHub pull request.

On writing good documentation

Writing good documentation is hard. In the end, "good" is highly subjective. All documentation assumes knowledge on the part of the reader. When you are writing content for the tutorial, stop and consider:

  • What assumptions am I making about the reader, their background and their knowledge?
  • How can I explain this in more than one way so a wider variety of people will understand it?

When writing documentation for the widest possible audience, brevity is not your friend. Even if you feel you have already explained something, explain it in a different way. The person who didn't understand the first explanation but understood the second will thank you.

The target audience for this tutorial is anyone with a modicum of experience with another programming language. It isn't targetting people who have no programming experience. Likewise though, we don't assume that the reader has worked with a statically typed language before. We don't assume a wealth of experience in the field. We strive to make this tutorial as accessible to the programmer with 9 months of Python experience as we do the polyglot progammer with 20 years of industry experience. Its acceptable to create content that targets a subset of the audience (for example Java programmers) so long as the same content is addressed in a fashion that covers the general audience as well.

Lastly, this is a living document. It will grow, change and adapt. Your contributions don't have to be perfect. They should merely improve the overall usefulness and quality. Welcome to the community! We look forward to your contributions.