Contributing to the Ansible Documentation

Ansible has a lot of documentation and a small team of writers. Community support helps us keep up with new features, fixes, and changes.

Improving the documentation is an easy way to make your first contribution to the Ansible project. You do not have to be a programmer, since most of our documentation is written in YAML (module documentation) or reStructuredText (rST). Some collection-level documentation is written in a subset of Markdown. If you are using Ansible, you already use YAML in your playbooks. rST and Markdown are mostly just text. You do not even need git experience, if you use the Edit on GitHub option.

If you find a typo, a broken example, a missing topic, or any other error or omission on this documentation website, let us know. Here are some ways to support Ansible documentation:

Editing docs directly on GitHub

For typos and other quick fixes, you can edit most of the documentation right from the site. Look at the top right corner of this page. That Edit on GitHub link is available on all the guide pages in the documentation. If you have a GitHub account, you can submit a quick and easy pull request this way.

Note

The source files for individual collection plugins exist in their respective repositories. Follow the link to the collection on Galaxy to find where the repository is located and any guidelines on how to contribute to that collection.

To submit a documentation PR from docs.ansible.com with Edit on GitHub:

  1. Click on Edit on GitHub.

  2. If you don’t already have a fork of the ansible repo on your GitHub account, you’ll be prompted to create one.

  3. Fix the typo, update the example, or make whatever other change you have in mind.

  4. Enter a commit message in the first rectangle under the heading Propose file change at the bottom of the GitHub page. The more specific, the better. For example, “fixes typo in my_module description”. You can put more detail in the second rectangle if you like. Leave the +label: docsite_pr there.

  5. Submit the suggested change by clicking on the green “Propose file change” button. GitHub will handle branching and committing for you, and open a page with the heading “Comparing Changes”.

  6. Click on Create pull request to open the PR template.

  7. Fill out the PR template, including as much detail as appropriate for your change. You can change the title of your PR if you like (by default it is the same as your commit message). In the Issue Type section, delete all lines except the Docs Pull Request line.

  8. Submit your change by clicking on Create pull request button.

  9. Be patient while Ansibot, our automated script, adds labels, pings the docs maintainers, and kicks off a CI testing run.

  10. Keep an eye on your PR - the docs team may ask you for changes.

Reviewing or solving open issues

Review or solve open documentation issues for:

Reviewing open PRs

Review open documentation pull requests for:

To add a helpful review, please:

  • Test the change if applicable.

  • Think if it can be made better (including wording, structure, fixing typos and so on).

  • Suggest improvements.

  • Approve the change with the looks good to me comment.

Opening a new issue and/or PR

If the problem you have noticed is too complex to fix with the Edit on GitHub option, and no open issue or PR already documents the problem, please open an issue and/or a PR on the correct underlying repo - ansible/ansible-documentation for most pages that are not plugin or module documentation. If the documentation page has no Edit on GitHub option, check if the page is for a module within a collection. If so, follow the link to the collection on Galaxy and select the repo button in the upper right corner to find the source repository for that collection and module. The Collection README file should contain information on how to contribute to that collection, or report issues.

A great documentation GitHub issue or PR includes:

  • a specific title

  • a detailed description of the problem (even for a PR - it is hard to evaluate a suggested change unless we know what problem it is meant to solve)

  • links to other information (related issues/PRs, external documentation, pages on docs.ansible.com, and so on)

Verifying your documentation PR

If you make multiple changes to the documentation, or add more than a line to it, before you open a pull request, please:

  1. Check that your text follows our Ansible documentation style guide.

  2. Test your changes for rST errors.

  3. Build the page, and preferably the entire documentation site, locally.

Note

The following sections apply to documentation sourced from the ansible/ansible-documentation repo and does not apply to documentation from an individual collection. See the collection README file for details on how to contribute to that collection.

Setting up your environment to build documentation locally

To build documentation locally, ensure you have a working development environment.

To work with documentation on your local machine, you should use a version of Python that meets the minimum requirement for ansible-core. For more information on minimum Python versions, see the support matrix.

Drop the --user option in the following commands if you use a virtual environment (venv/virtenv).

  1. Upgrade pip before installing dependencies (recommended).

    pip install --user --upgrade pip
    
  2. Clone required parts of Ansible Core for the docs build.

    python3 docs/bin/clone-core.py
    
  3. Install either the unpinned or tested documentation dependencies.

    pip install --user -r tests/requirements.in -c tests/requirements.txt # Installs tested dependency versions.
    pip install --user -r tests/requirements.in # Installs the unpinned dependency versions.
    pip install --user -r tests/requirements-relaxed.in # Installs the unpinned dependency versions including untested antsibull-docs.
    

Note

You may need to install these general pre-requisites separately on some systems: - gcc - libyaml - make - pyparsing - wheel - six On macOS with Xcode, you may need to install six and pyparsing with --ignore-installed to get versions that work with sphinx.

Note

After checking out ansible/ansible-documentation, make sure the docs/docsite/rst directory has strict enough permissions. It should only be writable by the owner’s account. If your default umask is not 022, you can use chmod go-w docs/docsite/rst to set the permissions correctly in your new branch. Optionally, you can set your umask to 022 to make all newly created files on your system (including those created by git clone) have the correct permissions.

Testing the documentation locally

To test an individual file for rST errors:

rstcheck changed_file.rst

Building the documentation locally

Building the documentation is the best way to check for errors and review your changes. Once rstcheck runs with no errors, navigate to ansible-documentation/docs/docsite and then build the page(s) you want to review.

Note

If building on macOS with Python 3.8 or later, you must use Sphinx >= 2.2.2. See #6803 for details.

Periodically cloning Ansible Core

Documentation in the ansible/ansible-documentation repository builds “on top of” the ansible/ansible repository. When you set up your local build environment, you clone the relevant parts Ansible Core.

To ensure that you use the latest source from Ansible Core, you should periodically run the following script before you build documentation:

python3 docs/bin/clone-core.py

Building a single rST page

To build a single rST file with the make utility:

make htmlsingle rst=path/to/your_file.rst

For example:

make htmlsingle rst=community/documentation_contributions.rst

This process compiles all the links but provides minimal log output. If you’re writing a new page or want more detailed log output, refer to the instructions on Building rST files with sphinx-build

Note

make htmlsingle adds rst/ to the beginning of the path you provide in rst=, so you can’t type the file name with autocomplete. Here are the error messages you will see if you get this wrong:

  • If you run make htmlsingle from the docs/docsite/rst/ directory: make: *** No rule to make target `htmlsingle'.  Stop.

  • If you run make htmlsingle from the docs/docsite/ directory with the full path to your rST document: sphinx-build: error: cannot find files ['rst/rst/community/documentation_contributions.rst'].

Building all the rST pages

To build all the rST files without any module documentation:

MODULES=none make webdocs

Building module docs and rST pages

To build documentation for a few modules included in ansible/ansible plus all the rST files, use a comma-separated list:

MODULES=one_module,another_module make webdocs

To build all the module documentation plus all the rST files:

make webdocs

Building rST files with sphinx-build

Advanced users can build one or more rST files with the sphinx utility directly. sphinx-build returns misleading undefined label warnings if you only build a single page, because it does not create internal links. However, sphinx-build returns more extensive syntax feedback, including warnings about indentation errors and x-string without end-string warnings. This can be useful, especially if you’re creating a new page from scratch. To build a page or pages with sphinx-build:

sphinx-build [options] sourcedir outdir [filenames...]

You can specify file names, or –a for all files, or omit both to compile only new/changed files.

For example:

sphinx-build -b html -c rst/ rst/dev_guide/ _build/html/dev_guide/ rst/dev_guide/developing_modules_documenting.rst

Running the final tests

When you submit a documentation pull request, automated tests are run. Those same tests can be run locally. To do so, navigate to the repository’s top directory and run:

make clean -C docs/docsite
python tests/checkers.py docs-build
python tests/checkers.py rstcheck

It is recommended to run tests on a clean copy of the repository, which is the purpose of the make clean command.

Joining the documentation working group

The Documentation Working Group (DaWGs) meets weekly on Tuesdays in the Docs chat (using Matrix or using IRC at irc.libera.chat). For more information, including links to our agenda and a calendar invite, please visit the working group page in the community repo.