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Master Your Project with a Crystal-Clear README.md 10 Essential Sections - Inside WPRiders Article

Master Your Project with a Crystal-Clear README.md: 10 Essential Sections

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What is a README.md file?

A README.md file is a text file created by a developer and contains information about the project. It can be found in the code repository and provides essential details about the project:

  • how to use it
  • how to install it
  • what it does
  • other relevant information
Master Your Project with a Crystal-Clear README.md 10 Essential Sections - Inside WPRiders Article

The readme.md file’s scope is to guide the users and other developers in their journey of better understanding the project and to facilitate their contribution to it.

A well-written README.md acts as a first impression for potential users. It showcases the purpose and value of your project, inviting them to explore further. Clear instructions on how to get started and use your project eliminate friction and frustration, fostering a positive user experience from the get-go.

What is Markdown?

The md extension comes from Markdown, a lightweight markup language with plain-text formatting syntax, making it easy to read and write. It is widely used because it is supported across various platforms and is a popular choice for writing content for the web.

If you want to learn more about Markdown, here is a short tutorial for the basic Markdown language. To find out more about the extended syntax you can learn from here. If you are interested in using icons or emojis, you can find a list of accepted symbols here. And if you want to add or edit badges, you can learn from here.

The Structure of README.md

Important Note: You can skip a step only if there’s nothing to add to it.

You can add readme.md to a plugin/child theme where you add descriptions specific to that plugin/theme, or add it to WP root where your git root is set.

Master Your Project with a Crystal-Clear README.md 10 Essential Sections - Inside WPRiders Article

1. Server Requirements

Server Requirements contain the software needed to run your application on a web server. This typically includes a web server like Apache or Nginx, a scripting language like PHP (specifying the exact version and subversion for compatibility), and a database management system like MySQL or MariaDB (also mentioning the minimum supported version). You should choose either Apache or Nginx.

2. Installation instructions

Here you need to write any 3rd party libraries that are required for the project and where the composer.json can be found to install those libraries. You don’t have to write detailed information as long as the libraries can be installed with a simple command “composer install”.

Sometimes libraries are not perfect and you will need to manually change something to fix an issue ( it happened with dart-sass ). If this is the case here with any libraries you are using, please explain what needs to be done and where in the section Troubleshooting tips.

3. Configuration

Here you need to write if the developer has to configure something accordingly in the local environment. Please provide clear details on this. This can be related to WordPress settings ( wp-admin or wp-config.php and so on.. ) or 3rd party-related settings.

4. Usage

If you have shortcodes/widgets describe how to use them. If you have Gutenberg blocks, also a brief explanation will help others. 

If you have custom plugins created, make a short description of how to use them correctly and/or what they do.

5. File/Folder Structure

Please explain the folder structure and important files of your project to help others navigate the project more easily.

Also, you need to list all the created plugins/child themes.  You can include the folders/files from the existing child theme if they were not created by you if they are important to be mentioned.

6. Building and Testing Process

If there are any special instructions for building (like compiling SCSS to CSS) or testing (PHPUnit, PHPCS, etc.) the project you need to include them too.

7. Dependency Management

Explain how to use Composer or any other packages ( you can link their documentation link like GitHub, NpmJS.com, and so on… )

8. Code Guidelines and Standards

We use by default WordPress-Core Coding Standards, but if something is set differently, make a brief description here and explain what’s what. 

9. Troubleshooting Tips

Include a list of common issues and their fixes. This can save a lot of time for another developer.

10. Team

Here you will add your name. All the developers who will work on this project will write their names here too. This is important because if the project moves from one developer to another developer down the line they should know who to ask for details on specific plugin(s)/child themes.

In Conclusion…

In the overwhelming world of software development, a project’s README.md file often gets ignored. But a well-crafted README.md can be your secret weapon for success. It’s more than just a text document; it’s a dynamic communication channel that connects the project with its users.

Master Your Project with a Crystal-Clear README.md 10 Essential Sections - Inside WPRiders Article

Imagine a new contributor eager to jump in and help. A clear and concise README.md becomes their roadmap, guiding them through setup, installation, and contribution guidelines. No more wasted time deciphering cryptic code or hunting for missing pieces.

Think of your README.md as a friendly ambassador, welcoming everyone with open arms. By following these steps and incorporating best practices, you can create a user-friendly introduction that not only clarifies your project but also streamlines collaboration and empowers both contributors and users.

Do you like this article? Share it and send us your feedback! Here are other articles you might find interesting. Also, if you want to learn more about business, check out the WPRiders Blog!
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