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Building Docs like Code: Continuous Integration for Documentation

Abstract

Project documentation is easy to neglect. Keep your docs inside your source repo & learn how to automatically build & publish beautiful docs on every commit. Viewers will leave with a new mindset on how to handle documentation, tooling for this process, & an easy-to-implement method to achieve this.

Description

It is common for developers to overlook the documentation of their works. They are either on a time crunch, lack the proper tooling, or simply just forget to create and update the documentation. Whatever the cause behind this, it is not a proper excuse for not keeping the documentation up to date. However, for all our development processes there are few as neglected as the documentation process. Documentation should be treated as important as the code that makes up the project. So, let’s move the documentation into the code. With modern documentation tools such as MkDocs and Sphinx, both of which are Python powered tools, and Continuous Integration tools we can now include docs in the commit. They can be reviewed in code reviews, built and versioned in a CI tool, and even tested for things such as correct code examples and broken links. This is the process that the developer knows, understands, and enjoys. I introduced a team to this exact workflow and a working pipeline; all they had to do was keep the documentation up to date. This team currently has some of the most up to date documentation in a company of near two thousand engineers, and they never complain about writing/updating documentation. It’s just part of the workflow.

Attendees will walk away with a new mindset on how to handle documentation, a list of tools that can aid in this process, and a proven, easy-to-implement method that works well for real engineers in a production setting.