Simon Willison’s Weblog

21 items tagged “documentation”

The subset of reStructuredText worth committing to memory

reStructuredText is the standard for documentation in the Python world.

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Honeycomb changelog (via) Too few hosted services have detailed user-facing changelogs. This one from Honeycomb (a metrics, tracing and observavility platform) is a particularly great example. I especially like the use of animated screenshots, something I’ve been evangelizing pretty heavily recently for internal communication at work. # 25th August 2018, 3:12 am

Documentation unit tests

Keeping documentation synchronized with an evolving codebase is difficult. Without extreme discipline, it’s easy for documentation to get out-of-date as new features are added.

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SpatiaLite — Datasette documentation. Datasette’s documentation now includes extensive coverage of the SpatiaLite extension for SQLite: how to install it, how to import latitude/longitude points, shapefiles and GeoJSON data into SpatiaLite tables, and how to run SQL queries against it that take advantage of spatial indexes. I’m learning SpatiaLite at the moment and filling out the documentation with each new trick I learn as I go—as Mark Pilgrim once taught me, the best way to learn a new technology is to write about it. # 30th May 2018, 4:34 am

TLDR pages. This is an absurdly good idea: a community maintained set of alternative man pages for common commands with a focus on usage examples, plus a “tldr netstat” command to see them. The man pages themselves are maintained on GitHub. # 24th November 2017, 5:38 am

gitchangelog. Handy Python utility that can generate a reStructured Text changelog from your git commit log. I used this to help get the Datasette release notes started. # 16th November 2017, 4:52 pm

Datasette 0.12. I just released v0.12 of Datasette. The most exciting new feature is the ability to display a UI for editing named parameters—so you can construct an arbitrarily complex SQL query, include some named parameters and then link directly to it in Datasette to provide a simple interface for changing those parameters. An example involving Australian dogs is included in the release notes. # 16th November 2017, 3:55 pm

Doc of docs

Here’s a low-tech, high-impact trick I recently learned at work that’s amazingly useful: create a doc-of-docs.

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Writing good documentation (part 1). Jacob explains some of the philosophy behind Django’s documentation. Topical guides are particularly interesting—many projects skip them (leaving books to fill the gap) but they fill an essential gap between tutorials and low-level reference documentation. # 11th November 2009, 7:13 am

FireScope. Neat little Firefox / Firebug extension which adds a “Reference” tab showing documentation for the selected element from the comprehensive SitePoint Reference site. # 5th February 2009, 10:51 pm

Django documentation (for 1.0). The documentation refactor is in: the docs for the upcoming 1.0 release have been tidied up, rearranged and ported to a new documentation system based on Sphinx (the Python documentation toolkit, NOT the full-text search engine). The URL has also changed to docs.djangoproject.com. # 24th August 2008, 10:49 am

GeoDjango Documentation. Merged to Django trunk a few hours ago. The tutorial isn’t there yet, but the rest of the docs are worth exploring. # 5th August 2008, 11:06 pm

Google Doctype. So now we know what Mark Pilgrim’s been doing at Google... heading up a project to create an encyclopaedia of web development. The JavaScript UI for browsing it is a bit weird (though you do at least get real pages if you disable JavaScript in your browser). # 14th May 2008, 8:30 pm

CSS Compatibility and Internet Explorer (via) Official Microsoft guide to which CSS properties are supported by which versions of IE. This is the kind of documentation browser vendors should be providing as a matter of course. # 2nd April 2008, 8:05 pm

Python-by-example. “This guide aims to show examples of use of all Python Library Reference functions, methods and classes”, thus addressing my number one complaint about Python’s standard library documentation. # 2nd April 2008, 3:42 pm

Safari CSS Reference. Official documentation covering the CSS properties supported by Safari, including the -webkit proprietary extensions. # 22nd November 2007, 11:51 pm

Thoughts on (and pics of) the original Macintosh User Manual. “[I] was struck by how it had to explain a total paradigm shift in interacting with computers”. # 30th August 2007, 5:32 am

The Python docs have been redesigned for 2.6. They’re beautiful. The docs for a module are on a single page now (rather than splitting over multiple pages), they’ve added unobtrusive permalinks to individual sections and the whole thing is built on ReST rather than LaTeX. # 18th August 2007, 12:39 pm

Django-fr. Community site for French language Django developers. They’ve already made a promising start on translating the documentation. # 21st June 2007, 10:50 am

start.gotapi.com. Lightning fast lookups of API documentation; includes Python docs, YUI, HTML, CSS and lots more. # 5th June 2007, 6:05 pm

The Dojo Manual (via) Dojo finally gets some really good extensive documentation. # 24th December 2005, 6:21 pm