Contributing to the Documentation

Contributing to the Documentation

One of the essential principles of the Symfony project is that documentation is as important as code. That's why a great amount of resources are dedicated to documenting new features and to keeping the rest of the documentation up-to-date.

More than 700 developers all around the world have contributed to Symfony's documentation and we are glad that you are considering joining this big family. This guide will explain everything you need to contribute to the Symfony documentation.

Before Your First Contribution

Before contributing, you should consider the following:

  • Symfony documentation is written using reStructuredText markup language. If you are not familiar with this format, read this article for a quick overview of its basic features.
  • Symfony documentation is hosted on GitHub. You'll need a GitHub user account to contribute to the documentation.
  • Symfony documentation is published under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 License and all your contributions will implicitly adhere to that license.

Your First Documentation Contribution

In this section, you'll learn how to contribute to the Symfony documentation for the first time. The next section will explain the shorter process you'll follow in the future for every contribution after your first one.

Let's imagine that you want to improve the installation chapter of the Symfony book. In order to make your changes, follow these steps:

Step 1. Go to the official Symfony documentation repository located at github.com/symfony/symfony-docs and fork the repository to your personal account. This is only needed the first time you contribute to Symfony.

Step 2. Clone the forked repository to your local machine (this example uses the projects/symfony-docs/ directory to store the documentation; change this value accordingly):

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$ cd projects/
$ git clone git://github.com/<YOUR GITHUB USERNAME>/symfony-docs.git

Step 3. Switch to the oldest maintained branch before making any change. Nowadays this is the 2.3 branch:

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$ cd symfony-docs/
$ git checkout 2.3

If you are instead documenting a new feature, switch to the first Symfony version which included it: 2.5, 2.6, etc.

Step 4. Create a dedicated new branch for your changes. This greatly simplifies the work of reviewing and merging your changes. Use a short and memorable name for the new branch:

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$ git checkout -b improve_install_chapter

Step 5. Now make your changes in the documentation. Add, tweak, reword and even remove any content, but make sure that you comply with the Documentation Standards.

Step 6. Push the changes to your forked repository:

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$ git commit book/installation.rst
$ git push origin improve_install_chapter

Step 7. Everything is now ready to initiate a pull request. Go to your forked repository at https//github.com/<YOUR GITHUB USERNAME>/symfony-docs and click on the Pull Requests link located in the sidebar.

Then, click on the big New pull request button. As GitHub cannot guess the exact changes that you want to propose, select the appropriate branches where changes should be applied:º

../../_images/docs-pull-request-change-base.png

In this example, the base repository should be symfony/symfony-docs and the base branch should be the 2.3, which is the branch that you selected to base your changes on. The compare repository should be your forked copy of symfony-docs and the compare branch should be improve_install_chapter, which is the name of the branch you created and where you made your changes.

Step 8. The last step is to prepare the description of the pull request. To ensure that your work is reviewed quickly, please add the following table at the beginning of your pull request description:

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| Q             | A
| ------------- | ---
| Doc fix?      | [yes|no]
| New docs?     | [yes|no] (PR # on symfony/symfony if applicable)
| Applies to    | [Symfony version numbers this applies to]
| Fixed tickets | [comma separated list of tickets fixed by the PR]

In this example, this table would look as follows:

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| Q             | A
| ------------- | ---
| Doc fix?      | yes
| New docs?     | no
| Applies to    | all
| Fixed tickets | #10575

Step 9. Now that you've successfully submitted your first contribution to the Symfony documentation, go and celebrate! The documentation managers will carefully review your work in short time and they will let you know about any required change.

In case you need to add or modify anything, there is no need to create a new pull request. Just make sure that you are on the correct branch, make your changes and push them:

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$ cd projects/symfony-docs/
$ git checkout improve_install_chapter

# ... do your changes

$ git push

Step 10. After your pull request is eventually accepted and merged in the Symfony documentation, you will be included in the Symfony Documentation Contributors list. Moreover, if you happen to have a SensioLabsConnect profile, you will get a cool Symfony Documentation Badge.

Your Second Documentation Contribution

The first contribution took some time because you had to fork the repository, learn how to write documentation, comply with the pull requests standards, etc. The second contribution will be much easier, except for one detail: given the furious update activity of the Symfony documentation repository, odds are that your fork is now out of date with the official repository.

Solving this problem requires you to sync your fork with the original repository. To do this, execute this command first to tell git about the original repository:

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$ cd projects/symfony-docs/
$ git remote add upstream https://github.com/symfony/symfony-docs.git

Now you can sync your fork by executing the following command:

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$ cd projects/symfony-docs/
$ git fetch upstream
$ git checkout 2.3
$ git merge upstream/2.3

This command will update the 2.3 branch, which is the one you used to create the new branch for your changes. If you have used another base branch, e.g. master, replace the 2.3 with the appropriate branch name.

Great! Now you can proceed by following the same steps explained in the previous section:

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# create a new branch to store your changes based on the 2.3 branch
$ cd projects/symfony-docs/
$ git checkout 2.3
$ git checkout -b my_changes

# ... do your changes

# submit the changes to your forked repository
$ git add xxx.rst     # (optional) only if this is a new content
$ git commit xxx.rst
$ git push

# go to GitHub and create the Pull Request
#
# Include this table in the description:
# | Q             | A
# | ------------- | ---
# | Doc fix?      | [yes|no]
# | New docs?     | [yes|no] (PR # on symfony/symfony if applicable)
# | Applies to    | [Symfony version numbers this applies to]
# | Fixed tickets | [comma separated list of tickets fixed by the PR]

Your second contribution is now complete, so go and celebrate again! You can also see how your ranking improves in the list of Symfony Documentation Contributors.

Your Next Documentation Contributions

Now that you've made two contributions to the Symfony documentation, you are probably comfortable with all the Git-magic involved in the process. That's why your next contributions would be much faster. Here you can find the complete steps to contribute to the Symfony documentation, which you can use as a checklist:

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# sync your fork with the official Symfony repository
$ cd projects/symfony-docs/
$ git fetch upstream
$ git checkout 2.3
$ git merge upstream/2.3

# create a new branch from the oldest maintained version
$ git checkout 2.3
$ git checkout -b my_changes

# ... do your changes

# add and commit your changes
$ git add xxx.rst     # (optional) only if this is a new content
$ git commit xxx.rst
$ git push

# go to GitHub and create the Pull Request
#
# Include this table in the description:
# | Q             | A
# | ------------- | ---
# | Doc fix?      | [yes|no]
# | New docs?     | [yes|no] (PR # on symfony/symfony if applicable)
# | Applies to    | [Symfony version numbers this applies to]
# | Fixed tickets | [comma separated list of tickets fixed by the PR]

# (optional) make the changes requested by reviewers and commit them
$ git commit xxx.rst
$ git push

You guessed right: after all this hard work, it's time to celebrate again!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do my Changes Take so Long to Be Reviewed and/or Merged?

Please be patient. It can take up to several days before your pull request can be fully reviewed. After merging the changes, it could take again several hours before your changes appear on the symfony.com website.

What If I Want to Translate Some Documentation into my Language?

Read the dedicated document.

Why Should I Use the Oldest Maintained Branch Instead of the Master Branch?

Consistent with Symfony's source code, the documentation repository is split into multiple branches, corresponding to the different versions of Symfony itself. The master branch holds the documentation for the development branch of the code.

Unless you're documenting a feature that was introduced after Symfony 2.3, your changes should always be based on the 2.3 branch. Documentation managers will use the necessary Git-magic to also apply your changes to all the active branches of the documentation.

What If I Want to Submit my Work without Fully Finishing It?

You can do it. But please use one of these two prefixes to let reviewers know about the state of your work:

  • [WIP] (Work in Progress) is used when you are not yet finished with your pull request, but you would like it to be reviewed. The pull request won't be merged until you say it is ready.
  • [WCM] (Waiting Code Merge) is used when you're documenting a new feature or change that hasn't been accepted yet into the core code. The pull request will not be merged until it is merged in the core code (or closed if the change is rejected).

Would You Accept a Huge Pull Request with Lots of Changes?

First, make sure that the changes are somewhat related. Otherwise, please create separate pull requests. Anyway, before submitting a huge change, it's probably a good idea to open an issue in the Symfony Documentation repository to ask the managers if they agree with your proposed changes. Otherwise, they could refuse your proposal after you put all that hard work into making the changes. We definitely don't want you to waste your time!

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