1 Introduction

Python's documentation has long been considered to be good for a free programming language. There are a number of reasons for this, the most important being the early commitment of Python's creator, Guido van Rossum, to providing documentation on the language and its libraries, and the continuing involvement of the user community in providing assistance for creating and maintaining documentation.

The involvement of the community takes many forms, from authoring to bug reports to just plain complaining when the documentation could be more complete or easier to use. All of these forms of input from the community have proved useful during the time I've been involved in maintaining the documentation.

This document is aimed at authors and potential authors of documentation for Python. More specifically, it is for people contributing to the standard documentation and developing additional documents using the same tools as the standard documents. This guide will be less useful for authors using the Python documentation tools for topics other than Python, and less useful still for authors not using the tools at all.

The material in this guide is intended to assist authors using the Python documentation tools. It includes information on the source distribution of the standard documentation, a discussion of the document types, reference material on the markup defined in the document classes, a list of the external tools needed for processing documents, and reference material on the tools provided with the documentation resources. At the end, there is also a section discussing future directions for the Python documentation and where to turn for more information.

If your interest is in contributing to the Python documentation, but you don't have the time or inclination to learn LaTeX and the markup structures documented here, there's a welcoming place for you among the Python contributors as well. Any time you feel that you can clarify existing documentation or provide documentation that's missing, the existing documentation team will gladly work with you to integrate your text, dealing with the markup for you. Please don't let the material in this document stand between the documentation and your desire to help out!

See About this document... for information on suggesting changes.