CiviCRM's volunteer feature received an A for usability in NTEN's 2011 Nonprofit Data Eco-System report.
This page gives an overview of CiviCRM's documentation. It is a starting point for people that want to know where to find documentation and how to improve documentation.
For more details on what is happening right now with documentation efforts, and for detailed information on how to get involved, read the documentation pages on the wiki.
The book and the wiki
The majority of CiviCRM's documentation can be found in either the books or the wiki. So what is the difference between the two?
Our vision for documentation is...
- The book provides a definitive and stable guide to CiviCRM, both for end users and administrators. It is the place to go for authoritative answers to CiviCRM questions. A significant amount of effort goes in to making the book comprehensive and accurate. Because of this, it may not contain up to the minute information on new features, etc.
- The documentation wiki (CRMDOC) is the place to go to find documentation for developers, and on new features that aren't yet in the book. It is also the place to put content that is constantly changing (e.g. installation instructions) and things that don't fit nicely into a book (for example large comparison tables). There is also another wiki (CRM) which serves as CiviCRM's 'notebook'. It has lots of information on past and present CiviCRM projects and includes things like requirements and specifications documents, road maps, and so on.
A lot of documentation starts of its life in the Wiki and then moves to the books as it becomes more stable.
Books are available at: http://book.civicrm.org. There is currently a single book:
- a user and admin guide at http://book.civicrm.org/user
Books are versioned. You can see versioning information in the top left hand corner and you can browse older versions in the archive for each book, e.g. http://book.civicrm.org/user/version.
The wikis are available at: http://wiki.civicrm.org/. There are currently two wikis:
- Documentation is here: http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRMDOC/CiviCRM+Documentation
- Other types of content, requirements, specifications, project plans etc. is here: http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRM/
Anyone can edit the book and the wiki! Reviewing and improving documentation is a great way for non technical people to contribute to CiviCRM and is also a great way to improve your understanding of CiviCRM.
Editing the wiki
Editing the Wiki is simple and your edits will be visible immediatley. Sign up for an account here http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/signup.action/, read the Wiki style guide at http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRM/Wiki+style+guide and start editing.
Writing the book
To ensure the quality of books, we have a slightly more involved publishing workflow (a bit like a software release) in which any edits that people make are not immediately visible in the published version. Instead all contributions are reviewed before being released. This helps is ensure high quality docuementation, which is especially important for new and inexperienced users.
The ‘source code’ of our books is here:
User and administrator guide - http://booki.flossmanuals.net/civicrm/_edit/
If you want to edit a book, you can sign up for an account here http://booki.flossmanuals.net/accounts/signin/, read the book style guide at http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRM/Book+style+guide and start editing.
Until now, we have done a lot of our book writing at book sprints. These are typically 3-6 day events where we get together in person to work on a major improvements to the book. At the the end of the sprint, we review our work and hit the publish button. We’ve had at least one book sprint a year since 2009 and try and tie in sprints with versions of the software.
Aside from booksprints, we don’t currently have a formalised process for making new releases of the books. If you have capacity to help in the release process, let us know.
If you are planning on making significant improvements or additions to our documentation (either remotely or by organising a book/documentation sprint) let us know about your ideas.
The documentation team are a very friendly bunch and are always on the look out for more contributors. We have a book and documentation forum http://forum.civicrm.org/index.php/board,11.0.html and a low volume discuss list http://lists.civicrm.org/lists/info/civicrm-docs which are great places to introduce yourself and get more involved. Also check http://civicrm.org/category/civicrm-blog-categories/documentation for blog posts on how we are improving documentation.
For more detailed information on what is happening right now with documentation efforts, and how to get involved, read the documentation pages on the wiki.
Other places to get help
Aside from the wiki and the books, there are plently of other places you can go to for help, including