7 Best Practices for Writing Great Python Documentation


Documentation is an important part of software engineering. As a developer, you need to create python documentation for your developers or users. It helps them understand how to use your code or library.

Python has a unique documentation syntax. It allows you to embed documentation directly in your source code. You can write it as comments. When you run the help function, Python will look at the document strings and show it as the help output.

To make the best use of Python’s documentation syntax, follow these 7 best practices when writing python documentation:

1. Use comments to write all the documentation strings instead of using “”” “”” as docstrings for single-line comments or ”’ ”’ for multi-line comments

2. Use reStructuredText (RST) format for writing Python code documentation except when you are creating docstrings for private methods, attributes and classes

3. Make sure that you place docstrings in the correct position within your Python code

4. Write one line summaries of module, class and method descriptions on their own line followed by a blank line and then more detailed information if needed

5. Document public attributes immediately following their declaration within a class

6. Write docstrings for public methods immediately after their definition with one blank line between each

Python includes a powerful documentation tool called Sphinx, which allows developers to create high-quality documentation that closely integrates with the code itself. However, creating good documentation takes time and effort, and many projects choose not to document their code. This is unfortunate because it means that developers who want to contribute to the project have to wade through the codebase themselves in order to make sense of what’s going on.

This is why it’s important for Python projects to include great documentation for their developers. Let’s look at some best practices for writing Python documentation so you can make sure your project is doing all it can to be a great open source citizen.

This is a guest post by Alexander Sotnikov, a software developer and freelance Python/Django trainer. He has written this article for the GitHub Education team to teach you how to create great documentation.

Documentation is vital for many areas of software development, such as APIs and libraries. It is an important part of creating a product that is easy to use, understand, and maintain. Good documentation helps developers find answers to their questions and understand how the product works.

On GitHub, documentation is one of the most important ways to communicate information about your project. A well-written README file can be crucial in helping people decide whether your project is worth using or contributing to. If you’re writing a library that other developers will use, good documentation can make the difference between other developers adopting your library or deciding not to use it.

We’ll cover seven best practices for writing great Python documentation using examples from my own open source library, tablib. This library allows Python programmers to easily export data sets into different formats (CSV, TSV, JSON, YAML).

GitHub is a development platform inspired by the way you work. From open source to business, you can host and review code, manage projects, and build software alongside millions of other developers.

GitHub is also a great place for developers to document their Python projects. But creating great Python documentation takes time and dedication.

To help developers create better Python documentation, here are seven best practices that every developer should follow:

1. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes

2. Consider your readers’ needs

3. Write clearly and concisely

4. Use visuals whenever possible

5. Simplify the installation process

6. Give examples for common use cases

7. Provide easy access to support or feedback

You have a great library, and you want to release it as open-source. You’ve probably spent a lot of time developing it and writing the code, but have you ever thought about how to write good documentation for other developers?

In this article, we’ll look at the best practices for writing great documentation for Python packages. We’ll also learn how to create documentation with Sphinx (a tool that makes this process easier).

Why is Documentation Important?

A well-written documentation is important for any project or software. It’s not only helpful for users of your library, but also helps to improve your code because it forces you to think through your design decisions. In addition, when you use third-party libraries in your projects, good documentation will help you understand its API and getting started quickly.

Writing Good Documentation

A good documentation should provide any information that’s necessary to help developers understand and use your library effectively. Here are some tips for writing clear and concise documentation:

1. Generate documentation automatically

2. Document a class in the same file as its definition

3. Use docstrings to explain code behavior

4. Include an example of code usage in the documentation

5. Organize documentation so that it is easy to find and digest

6. Document all public methods, classes, modules and packages

7. Give your project a good README

People are more likely to use your code if they can understand how it works. Don’t assume that your code will be used only by other programmers. If your code includes a class, you may want to write documentation for users of that class as well as developers who will inherit or extend the class.

Documentation should be useful to as many people as possible: new users, experienced users, and developers.

Complexity is a two edged sword. You can slice through the competition with it, but you can also cut yourself badly. Documentation, like software itself, should strive for simplicity–but not at the expense of completeness.

Documentation should be simple enough for new users and broad enough for experienced ones. It should cover everything from installation and configuration through detailed usage and troubleshooting.

Complexity is a two edged sword. You can slice through the competition with it, but you can also cut yourself badly. Documentation, like software itself, should strive for simplicity–but not at the expense of completeness.

Documentation should be simple enough for new users and broad enough for experienced ones. It should cover everything from installation and configuration through detailed usage and troubleshooting.


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