Documentation structure

For consistency throughout the documentation, it’s important to maintain the same structure among the docs.

Before getting started, read through the following docs:

Documentation blurb

Every document should include the following content in the following sequence:

  • Feature name: defines an intuitive name for the feature that clearly states what it is and is consistent with any relevant UI text.
  • Feature overview and description: describe what it is, what it does, and in what context it should be used.
  • Use cases: describes real use case scenarios for that feature.
  • Requirements: describes what software and/or configuration is required to be able to use the feature and, if applicable, prerequisite knowledge for being able to follow/implement the tutorial. For example, familiarity with GitLab CI/CD, an account on a third-party service, dependencies installed, etc. Link each one to its most relevant resource; i.e., where the reader can go to begin to fullfil that requirement. (Another doc page, a third party application’s site, etc.)
  • Instructions: clearly describes the steps to use the feature, leaving no gaps.
  • Troubleshooting guide (recommended but not required): if you know beforehand what issues one might have when setting it up, or when something is changed, or on upgrading, it’s important to describe those too. Think of things that may go wrong and include them in the docs. This is important to minimize requests for support, and to avoid doc comments with questions that you know someone might ask. Answering them beforehand only makes your document better and more approachable.

For additional details, see the subsections below, as well as the Documentation template for new docs.

Feature overview and use cases

Every major feature (regardless if present in GitLab Community or Enterprise editions) should present, at the beginning of the document, two main sections: overview and use cases. Every GitLab EE-only feature should also contain these sections.

Overview: as the name suggests, the goal here is to provide an overview of the feature. Describe what is it, what it does, why it is important/cool/nice-to-have, what problem it solves, and what you can do with this feature that you couldn’t do before.

Use cases: provide at least two, ideally three, use cases for every major feature. You should answer this question: what can you do with this feature/change? Use cases are examples of how this feature or change can be used in real life.

Examples:

Note that if you don’t have anything to add between the doc title (<h1>) and the header ## Overview, you can omit the header, but keep the content of the overview there.

Overview and use cases are required to every Enterprise Edition feature, and for every major feature present in Community Edition.

Discoverability

Your new document will be discoverable by the user only if:

  • Crosslinked from the higher-level index (e.g., Issue Boards docs should be linked from Issues; Prometheus docs should be linked from Monitoring; CI/CD tutorials should be linked from CI/CD examples).
    • When referencing other GitLab products and features, link to their respective docs; when referencing third-party products or technologies, link out to their external sites, documentation, and resources.
  • The headings are clear. E.g., “App testing” is a bad heading, “Testing an application with GitLab CI/CD” is much better. Think of something someone will search for and use these keywords in the headings.

Documentation template for new docs

To start a new document, respect the file tree and file name guidelines, as well as the style guidelines. Use the following template:

---
description: "short document description." # Up to ~200 chars long. They will be displayed in Google Search Snippets.
---

# Feature Name **[TIER]** (1)

> [Introduced](link_to_issue_or_mr) in GitLab Tier X.Y (2).

A short description for the feature (can be the same used in the frontmatter's
`description`).

## Overview

To write the feature overview, you should consider answering the following questions:

- What is it?
- Who is it for?
- What is the context in which it is used and are there any prerequisites/requirements?
- What can the user do with it? (Be sure to consider multiple audiences, like GitLab admin and developer-user.)
- What are the benefits to using it over any alternatives?

## Use cases

Describe one to three use cases for that feature. Give real-life examples.

## Requirements

State any requirements, if any, for using the feature and/or following along with the tutorial.

The only assumption that is redundant and doesn't need to be mentioned is having an account
on GitLab.

## Instructions

("Instructions" is not necessarily the name of the heading)

- Write a step-by-step guide, with no gaps between the steps.
- Start with an h2 (`##`), break complex steps into small steps using
subheadings h3 > h4 > h5 > h6. _Never skip the hierarchy level, such
as h2 > h4_, as it will break the TOC and may affect the breadcrumbs.
- Use short and descriptive headings (up to ~50 chars). You can use one
single heading `## How it works` for the instructions when the feature
is simple and the document is short.
- Be clear, concise, and stick to the goal of the doc: explain how to
use that feature.
- Use inclusive language and avoid jargons, as well as uncommon and
fancy words. The docs should be clear and easy to understand.
- Write in the 3rd person (use "we", "you", "us", "one", instead of "I" or "me").
- Always provide internal and external reference links.
- Always link the doc from its higher-level index.

<!-- ## Troubleshooting

Add a troubleshooting guide when possible/applicable. -->

---

Notes:

- (1): Apply the [tier badges](https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/development/documentation/styleguide.html#product-badges) accordingly
- (2): Apply the correct format for the [GitLab version introducing the feature](https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/development/documentation/styleguide.html#gitlab-versions-and-tiers)

Help and feedback section

The “help and feedback” section (introduced by !319) displayed at the end of each document can be omitted from the doc by adding a key into the its frontmatter:

---
feedback: false
---

The default is to leave it there. If you want to omit it from a document, you must check with a technical writer before doing so.

Disqus

We also have integrated the docs site with Disqus (introduced by !151), allowing our users to post comments.

To omit only the comments from the feedback section, use the following key on the frontmatter:

---
comments: false
---

We are only hiding comments in main index pages, such as the main documentation index, since its content is too broad to comment on. Before omitting Disqus, you must check with a technical writer.

Note that once feedback: false is added to the frontmatter, it will automatically omit Disqus, therefore, don’t add both keys to the same document.

The click events in the feedback section are tracked with Google Tag Manager. The conversions can be viewed on Google Analytics by navigating to Behavior > Events > Top events > docs.