I think it is an express objective of Carsten's that Org should be
readily accessible to all users of Emacs and not just those who might
happen to read or hack on the code of this particular package. To
that end significant effort has been made and continues to be made by
the Org community to ensure that high quality, user focused,
documentation is readily available to everyone.
Org itself contains a comprehensive guide to using all aspects of the
system, how to extend it yourself, and highlights some of the many
burgeoning number of add-on packages that others are contributing.
This guide, The Org Manual, concentrates on the facts of working with
the system. Supplementing this, the Org web pages contain pointers to
many tutorials and how-to's which capture much of spirit and
imagination people show when using Org as a basis for building broader
organizational systems that help them help themselves.
I use Org, but it is a big system, and so I happen to think that
improving the consistency, clarity and accuracy of Org documents helps
both me and all other users of the system. In support of this and by
way of justification and clarification, this short note attempts to
capture some of the existing guidelines and standards that have been
used in the patches I am submitting and, which I hope, may be adopted
by others when making their own contributions.
Referencing systems, packages, modes and much else
Originally Org was a single mode and there was no ambiguity about what
Org mode could refer to. Things have changed rapidly though and it
seems that Carsten now thinks of Org as the system encompassing the
major mode, some minor modes, and an increasing number of additional
packages and plug-ins that build on the core Org functionality. It is
really hard to find a consistent way to refer to all these things, but
what I am trying to do is follow these guidelines (which are not
perfect, merely a start):
- In general write "Org" as much as possible and, in particular, when
discussing concepts, features and functions that are generally
applicable to Org as a whole.
- Be more specific and write, for example, "the Orgtbl minor mode"
when referring to something unique to that feature. It may be, for
example, a command is only available when you are actually editing a
file using just that mode, add-on package or plug-in.
- Prefer "Org mode" to "Org-mode" or "org-mode". This is simply
because it reflects an existing convention in [[info:emacs:Top][The Emacs Manual]] which
consistently documents mode names in this form - "Text mode",
"Outline mode", "Mail mode", etc.
- Likewise refer, if at all possible, to "Org file or "Org buffer"
meaning with, great generality, any file or buffer which requires
use of some part of Org to edit it properly.
- Org uses "org-..." to ring fence a name space for itself in the
Emacs code base. This is obviously retained in code snippets.
Other Org specific conventions
Unless there is a good reason to do otherwise, then try and adopt the
following conventions. (I think all can be justified by reference to
Carsten or precedent in other significant Emacs documentation, unless
I have made them up of course).
- Org has lots of commands and a lot of them take prefix arguments of
one sort or another. Write in full "prefix argument", "numeric
prefix argument" or, maybe, "a numeric prefix argument N" when you
want to refer to the argument again.
- Org lives in various states of harmony and discord with other Emacs
packages. Try and write the names of those packages as their
authors and maintainers write them. So it should be (I think) BBDB,
MH-E, Rmail, VM, Gnus, CDLaTeX etc.
- TODO keywords, whether Org or user defined, are written in capitals.
- Built-in tags with a special meaning (e.g. ARCHIVE) are written in
uppercase. User defined tags (e.g. boss, home) are written in
- Built-in properties (e.g. PRIORITY) are written in uppercase. User
defined properties (e.g. Release) are written in lowercase.
- Entries in the concept index are normally all lower case unless some
other rule dictates otherwise.
org-manual.org specific conventions
Org git repository comes with an .org version of the manual in the
=doc/= directory. Here are indications that are specific to this
version of the manual.
- Five of the standard Texinfo indexes are used in the Org manual:
- #+cindex: :: concept index, for general concepts
- #+findex: :: function index, for function and function-like names
- #+kindex: :: keystroke index, for keyboard commands
- #+pindex: :: program index, for names of programs
- #+vindex: :: variable index, for variable names
- Use fixed-width area for one-line examples.
- Use example blocks for Org syntax instead of "begin_src org".
- Internal links to headlines always start with a star.
- Tags, node properties, are not shown with the surrounding colons.
- When to use = ... = or ~ ... ~ markup:
- files or extensions use = ... =,
- anything that is meant to be written in the Org buffer uses = ... =,
- any meaningful token in a programming language uses ~ ... ~.
- Only two of the standard Texinfo indexes are used; those for
concepts and keys. This has some implications:
- The preference is to document commands by key rather than by name
- Texinfo commands such as @var and @defoption are not used. The
preference for this type of thing is that the user browses the
customize groups. If you want or need to refer to, say, a
variable then document it as "the variable
- Entries in the concept index are normally all lower case unless
some other rule dictates otherwise.
- Org documentation is written in American English, which is somewhat
foreign as far as I am concerned, but live with it anyway.
- Org uses a number of compound words, words that I wouldn't
necessarily run together. Instead of worrying about whether these
should be separate, hyphenated or compound I have simply gone with
the majority case as originally written and then tried to make sure
the spell checker knows what this chosen standard should be so that
I do not worry about it anymore.
- I have run a spell checker periodically. Aspell works well and has
a useful Texinfo filter (although, annoyingly, I cannot make this
work with ispell.el and so I run it from the command line). I have
an Org specific Aspell configuration file (which sets an American
dictionary, rules for compound words etc) and which, along with the
associated word and replacement files, captures some of the more
detailed and somewhat arbitrary rules I have used.
- Org has really low entry barriers. Requirements seem simply to be:
- You can use Text mode or, pretty much, any derivative of it
- You have some motivation to become slightly better organized.
Therefore, try and write the documentation so that it is relevant
to, and can be read by such a diverse audience.