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MDN on GitHub

December 14th, 2020 Leave a comment Go to comments

Looks like all the content of MDN is on GitHub now. That’s pretty rad. That’s been the public plan for a while. Chris Mills:

We will be using GitHub’s contribution tools and features, essentially moving MDN from a Wiki model to a pull request (PR) model. This is so much better for contribution, allowing for intelligent linting, mass edits, and inclusion of MDN docs in whatever workflows you want to add it to (you can edit MDN source files directly in your favorite code editor).

Looks like that transition is happening basically today, and it’s a whole new back-end and front-end architecture.

Say you wanted to update the article for :focus-within. There will be a button on that page that takes you to the file in the repo (rather than the wiki editing page), and you can edit it from the GitHub UI (or however you like to do Git, but that seems like right-on-GitHub will be where the bulk of editing happens). Saving the changed document will automatically become a Pull Request, and presumably, there is a team in place to approve those.

We think that your changes should be live on the site in 48 hours as a worst case scenario.

Big claps from me here, I think this is a smart move. I can’t speak to the tech, but the content model is smart. I’d maybe like to see the content in Markdown with less specialized classes and such, but I suspect that kind of thing can evolve over time and this is already a behemoth of an update to ship all at once.

In August 2020, the entire MDN (writers) team was laid off, so it looks like the play here is to open up the creation and editing of these technical docs to the world of developers. Will it work? It super didn’t work for the “Web Platform Docs” (remember those?). But MDN has way more existing content, mindshare, and momentum. I suspect it will work great for the maintenance of existing docs, decently for new docs on whatever is hot ‘n’ fresh, but less so for anything old and “boring”.

Seems a little risky to fire all the writers before you find out if it works, so that speaks to the product direction. Things are changing and paying a content creation team directly just ain’t a part of whatever the new direction is.

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