"…mais ce serait peut-être l'une des plus grandes opportunités manquées de notre époque si le logiciel libre ne libérait rien d'autre que du code…"

Posts Tagged ‘Knowledge is power!’

Python : documentation technique de projets logiciels : un article de Jacob Kaplan-Moss (partie 1) / Django / sphinx

Posted by patrick sur novembre 12, 2009

Source: http://jacobian.org/writing/great-documentation/what-to-write/

Voici quelques extraits intéressants:

I love Django’s documentation. It clocks in at about 700 pages printed, and most of it is clear, concise, and helpful. I think Django’s among the best documented open source projects, and nothing makes me prouder.

Today I’ll discuss the different forms technical documentation can take, and where to focus your efforts.



Good tutorials are a must as they’re usually the first thing someone sees when trying out a new piece of tech. First impressions are incredibly important: that rush of success as you work through a good tutorial will likely color your future opinions about the project….Be quick. At some conference or another I heard someone — I think it was Kathy Sierra — say that, as a rule of thumb, a new user should be able to experience success within thirty minutes…

Topical guides

This is the meat of your documentation. Once somebody’s learned (from a tutorial) the high-level concepts, they’re going to need to dive into the details of some area or another. Any documentation worth its salt is going to have a whole bunch of these — Django’s got about 35 different topical guides, covering each conceptual area (e.g. models, sessions, testing, etc.)…The main goal for topical coverage should be comprehensiveness. The reader ought to come away from a close read feeling very comfortable with the topic in question. They should feel that they know the vast majority of the possible options, and more importantly they should understand how all the concepts fit together.

Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of projects that do these very well. Most have reasonable tutorials, many have okay-to-good reference material, but most seem to leave the topical guides to books.



Finally, you need complete reference for all the public APIs your project provides. These should be designed for those who already know how to use some API, but need to look up the exact arguments some function takes, or how a particular setting influences behavior, etc…It’s important to point out that reference material is not in any way a substitute for good tutorials and guides!..Think of guides and reference as partners: guides give you the “why,” and reference gives you the “how.”

It’s really tempting to use an auto-documentation tool like Javadoc or RDoc for reference material.


Auto-generated documentation is almost worthless. At best it’s a slightly improved version of simply browsing through the source, but most of the time it’s easier just to read the source than to navigate the bullshit that these autodoc tools produce. About the only thing auto-generated documentation is good for is filling printed pages when contracts dictate delivery of a certain number of pages of documentation. I feel a particularly deep form of rage every time I click on a “documentation” link and see auto-generated documentation.

There’s no substitute for documentation written, organized, and edited by hand.

I’ll even go further and say that auto-generated documentation is worse than useless: it lets maintainers fool themselves into thinking they have documentation, thus putting off actually writing good reference by hand. If you don’t have documentation just admit to it. Maybe a volunteer will offer to write some! But don’t lie and give me that auto-documentation crap.

A voir

–  http://www.djangoproject.com/ (‘Django is a high-level Python Web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design.’)

http://www.django-fr.org/ (‘Django est un framework écrit en Python. Puissant, il est utilisé par des organisations comme la Nasa, le Washington Times et a servi de base à Google App Engine. Mais Django est aussi adapté si vous n’êtes pas une multinationale ou une agence gouvernementale‘)



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