Contributing to Juju documentation

Contributing to the Juju documentation is made easy by the format it's written in: GitHub Flavored Markdown (or GFM). You will therefore find the source documents straightforward and human-readable.

The GFM implementation used does not include "Username linking" and "Emoji" since these features are GitHub specific. In addition to those removals, however, we've created several new Markdown definitions to implement features required for the docs. These definitions are outlined below.

How to contribute

We love it when the community contributes to documentation. Here are the essential steps:

The source documents are located in the src directory. From there each language is separated into its own directory by language code. For instance, English is under src/en.

Here is a handy Markdown reference to get you started. Afterwards, do take a look at the main GFM site.

Once submitted, someone from the docs team will review your work, suggest improvements, and eventually merge it with the master branch. Don't forget to review your work before submission!


All the text is organised into sections. These are auto-generated, there is nothing extra you need to do:

# <h1> equivalent
## <h2> equivalent
### <h3> equivalent

Code Blocks

To code block something indent each line with 4 whitespace characters.

Inline code

Use a backtick to inline commands and other literals.

Notes, Warnings, Callouts, Admonishments

Callouts are used to notify the user of additional information or warn them of potential pitfalls. This will create a notification resembling the following in the docs:


To implement this callout, use the following syntax:

!!! Note: 
    If you want to get more information on what is actually happening, or
    to help resolve problems, you can add the `--show-log` switch to the juju
    command to get verbose output.


When a page contains a high volume of information that would otherwise require a table of contents, or similar method of quick navigation, a foldout can be used. This will create a collapsed header which, when clicked, will expand to display all the content below it.

^# Header
  Content can be multi-paragraphed and will be sent through the Markdown parser

  as long as content is continually indented under the header.

Adding pages

Adding a page (file) to the documentation requires the altering of src/navigation.tpl. Doing so will insert an entry into the left navigation pane which will allow a visitor to discover the new page.

Add the page with the following format:

<li class="sub"><a href="charms-scaling.html">Scaling Services</a></li>;

in the appropriate section. Please make sure you submit a Pull Request with a description of the new page and why it is needed!

Adding Screenshots

When adding screenshots place them in htmldocs/media. To reference them in your page use the syntax ![description](media/picture.png)

Testing or Deploying locally

First you need to generate the docs from the Markdown. In the root directory first get the dependencies and make the docs:

make sysdeps

Note: You only need to make sysdeps once, after that you'll have all the dependencies you'll need to build the docs going forward.

The documentation makes use of Javascript for some functionality, so in order to test the docs properly you will need to have a web server set up. See Ubuntu and Apache. The DocumentRoot should be the htmldocs directory:

sudo cp -R htmldocs /var/www/htmldocs

You can then point your web browser at your local machine ( to view the files.

Alternatively, you can use Python to start a simple HTTP server on the docs directory. Navigate to the /htmldocs directory of the docs and run the following:

python -m SimpleHTTPServer

Style and Language

We are putting together a more comprehensive style guide, but for the moment the following are good guidelines:

  • Resist being overly formal. The documentation should be like having a conversation with a knowledgeable friend
  • Remember the readers are users not necessarily Juju developers
  • Spell things properly! (see below)
  • If including links or examples, double-check they actually work
  • We enforce 80 columns for every text file to keep it readable. Here are instructions for the vim and emacs editors.

Using en-GB for en-US writers

The official language of Canonical documentation is English, or en-GB to be more precise. There are all sorts of minor differences between English and American English, including spelling, verb morphology, transitives, etc.

Many of these differences will thankfully have no impact on writing the documentation for Juju though - it is unlikely you will be talking about "pants" or "hockey" or "tabling motions" for example. The main and most notable difference is in spelling.

Popular belief is that you will merely need to add a few 'u's to words and change -ize to -ise everywhere. It is a bit more complicated than that though. In fact, many -ize endings are acceptable in en-GB, though the -ise endings are generally preferred. The Oxford English Dictionary Style Guide (1998) has this to say:

"The verbal ending -ize has been in general use since the 16th century; it is favoured in American English and in much British writing, and remains the current preferred style of Oxford University Press in academic and general books published in Britain. However, the alternative spelling -ise is now widespread (partly under the influence of French), especially in Britain, and may be adopted provided that its use is consistent. ... A number of verbs always end in -ise in British use, notably advertise, chastise, despise, disguise, franchise, merchandise, surmise, and all verbs ending in -cise, -prise, -vise (including comprise, excise, prise (open), supervise, surprise, televise, etc.), but -ize is always used for prize (=value), capsize, size. ... Spellings with -yze (paralyze, analyze) are only acceptable in American use."

As you can see, it can be rather tricky. And that is only the ize/ize issue. There are many other endings which differ (e.g. -eled/-elled as in "travelled" and "labelled". The best way to ensure that you are using consistent en-GB spelling is to simply enable the en-GB dictionary on whatever software you generally use for writing. For example, in vim you could execute the command:

:setlocal spell spelllang=en_gb 

This will change the spelling highlight options for the local buffer only, so you won't have to worry about whatever language you normally use. Do not worry about your atrocious grammar (in either variant of the language) as the docs monkeys are used to tidying that up!

© 2018 Canonical Ltd. Ubuntu and Canonical are registered trademarks of Canonical Ltd.