The 2021 Python Language Summit: The Python Documentation Work Group

Mariatta Wijaya and Carol Willing gave a presentation about a new documentation work group at the 2021 Python Language Summit. Last year, Carol Willing and Ned Batchelder spoke about laying the groundwork for this project at the 2020 Python Language Summit.

Carol Willing and Mariatta Wijaya
 

Why Does Python Need a Documentation Work Group?

The mission of the Python Software Foundation is to advance the Python language and grow a diverse, international community of Python programmers so that the language can continue to flourish well into the future. However, when it comes to documentation, core developers don't necessarily reflect the larger world of Python users. If we can bring together core developers, documentarians, and educators, then we can have better documentation that serves the needs of the wider community more effectively.

What Should the Documentation Work Group Achieve?

The work group has two main goals:

  1. Improve documentation content so there's more documentation aimed at people who are learning the language
  2. Modernize documentation themes to make them responsive on mobile so they can better serve users working with limited bandwidth

Although core developers have sometimes felt a great deal of ownership of parts of the documentation, all of the documentation is a community resource. As a result, no one person should be responsible for any one part of the documentation. If the work group is large enough, then it can serve as an editorial board that could work towards consensus.

The work group will:

  • Set priorities and projects for the next year
  • Build a larger documentation community and help them feel engaged, connected, and empowered

What Will Stay the Same?

Changes to documentation will still go through the same PR process that is described in the dev guide. There will be the same commitment to quality. Although there will be new documentation to meet the needs of underserved users and topics, the existing docs at docs.python.org and devguide.python.org will remain.

What Will Change?

Documentation is a gateway to education. In order for it to be more effective, we need broader input from the community. There have already been considerable efforts with translation and localization, but it would also be beneficial to have a new landing page to help users find the resources they need.

What's Next?

The next step is to deal with the logistics of work-group membership. The current members are Mariatta Wijaya, Carol Willing, Ned Batchelder, and Julien Palard. The charter for the work group states that it can have up to twenty members. The application process will be similar to the one that the code of conduct work group used. The current members expect applications to come from the wider Python community as well as from core developers.

Once the group has more members, they will hold a monthly meeting that will be scheduled to accommodate a variety of time zones. They will discuss docs issues, open PRs, the status of projects, achievements, next steps, and more.

There are also plans for AMA sessions on Discourse so that docs team members can answer questions and connect with the wider docs community. In addition, the group will reach out to PyLadies and tap into the diverse skill sets of their members.

Where Can You Learn More?

To learn more, you can check out the Python docs community on: