Writing Documentation for Flake8
The maintainers of |Flake8| believe strongly in benefit of style guides. Hence, for all contributors who wish to work on our documentation, we've put together a loose set of guidelines and best practices when adding to our documentation.
View the docs locally before submitting
You can and should generate the docs locally before you submit a pull request with your changes. You can build the docs by running:
.. prompt:: bash tox -e docs
From the directory containing the
tox.ini file (which also contains the
docs/ directory that this file lives in).
If the docs don't build locally, they will not build in our continuous integration system. We will generally not merge any pull request that fails continuous integration.
Run the docs linter tests before submitting
You should run the
doc8 linter job before you're ready to commit and fix
any errors found.
Capitalize Flake8 in prose
We believe that by capitalizing |Flake8| in prose, we can help reduce
confusion between the command-line usage of
flake8 and the project.
We also have defined a global replacement
|Flake8| that should be used
and will replace each instance with
Use the prompt directive for command-line examples
When documenting something on the command-line, use the
directive to make it easier for users to copy and paste into their terminal.
.. prompt:: bash flake8 --select E123,W503 dir/ flake8 --ignore E24,W504 dir
Wrap lines around 79 characters
We use a maximum line-length in our documentation that is similar to the default in |Flake8|. Please wrap lines at 79 characters (or less).
Use two new-lines before new sections
After the final paragraph of a section and before the next section title, use two new-lines to separate them. This makes reading the plain-text document a little nicer. Sphinx ignores these when rendering so they have no semantic meaning.
Section Header ============== Paragraph. Next Section Header =================== Paragraph.
Surround document titles with equal symbols
To indicate the title of a document, we place an equal number of
on the lines before and after the title. For example:
================================== Writing Documentation for Flake8 ==================================
Note also that we "center" the title by adding a leading space and having
= symbols at the end of those lines.
Use the option template for new options
All of |Flake8|'s command-line options are documented in the User Guide. Each
option is documented individually using the
.. option:: directive provided
by Sphinx. At the top of the document, in a reStructuredText comment, is a
template that should be copied and pasted into place when documening new
The ordering of the options page is the order that options are printed in the output of:
.. prompt:: bash flake8 --help
Please insert your option documentation according to that order.
Use anchors for easy reference linking
Use link anchors to allow for other areas of the documentation to use the
:ref: role for intralinking documentation. Example:
.. _use-anchors: Use anchors for easy reference linking ======================================
Somewhere in this paragraph we will :ref:`reference anchors <use-anchors>`.
You do not need to provide custom text for the
:ref: if the title of
the section has a title that is sufficient.
Keep your audience in mind
|Flake8|'s documentation has three distinct (but not separate) audiences:
- Plugin Developers
- Flake8 Developers and Contributors
At the moment, you're one of the third group (because you're contributing or thinking of contributing).
Consider that most Users aren't very interested in the internal working of |Flake8|. When writing for Users, focus on how to do something or the behaviour of a certain piece of configuration or invocation.
Plugin developers will only care about the internals of |Flake8| as much as they will have to interact with that. Keep discussions of internal to the mininmum required.
Finally, Flake8 Developers and Contributors need to know how everything fits together. We don't need detail about every line of code, but cogent explanations and design specifications will help future developers understand the Hows and Whys of |Flake8|'s internal design.