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HOWTO contribute

Contributing to ProjectNews is easy but depends on your skills and the amount of time you can spare.

Send interesting news

The easiest way to help us is to inform us about interesting things happening in the Debian universe. Debian is quite a big project, and we don't have the manpower to monitor every mailing list, blog, news site for content we might want to add to our ProjectNews. So tell us, if you noticed something interesting happening. You can usually do this by sending an E-Mail to .

What you should send

Generally speaking: Everything which might have an noticeable impact on the Debian Project at large and its user base is special.

Some ideas:

Things you don't need to report

Of course the above list is far from being complete. We would especially like to point out, that we can't monitor other media, web sites, blogs and everything else. So it's very valuable to report anything you think fitting to the ProjectNews to our mailing lists .

Keep in mind, that one of the main purposes from our side, beside keeping our users informed, is to show them that

Help by native speakers

Currently the main editor is not a native English speaker. He knows it, and you probably have noticed it, too. So one thing you can help as a native speaker is to fix his en_DE to proper English. The issues are drafted in a subversion repository. Details on how to access is using a subversion client are listed bellow in the "Becoming an editor yourself" part. But even if you are unfamiliar with that, you can always download the current issue, review that and mail comments to the debian-publicity mailing list. We would prefer to receive your changes as diff or wdiff, if possible: Just make a copy of the downloaded file, edit it, and send us the output of diff <oldfile> <newfile>.

Becoming an editor yourself

If you want to contribute directly and want to add small articles for the ProjectNews yourself, feel free to join the team:

Accessing the subversion repository

Before accessing the subversion repository, you might want to read ?Setting up SSH the first time to use the subversion repository on alioth more conveniently.

You can now edit the Debian Project News. Don't worry if you unexperienced with subversion or the Website Meta Language / HTML (which is used for Debian's website). Nothing you do will directly appear on the website and all errors you might do can be revoked relatively painlessly.


Also note, that there are several graphical front ends for subversion. But as the writer lacks experience with any of them, he can't recommend them.

Two more other guidelines for committing your changes:

  1. Please use a useful commit message (the description of your changes behind the "-m" Parameter).
  2. Try not to make to long lines. Tracking changes / viewing diffs is easier, when the line length is shorter then ~80 characters. Most Editors can be teacht to automatically break the line for you.

Format of the index.wml file

The Debian Project News are available in three Formats:

All these formats are generated from the index.wml file. Debian's website use the website meta language (WML) to create the web pages. Roughly speaking is WML HTML with embedded macros (e.g. for common elements on various sited) and the possibility to embed perl scripts, e.g. to create a list of DPN issues based on the files available. But don't worry: You don't need to know WML or perl (and only basic HTML) to contribute to the DPN. Luckily nearly everything is already in place and we just need to create the content with minimal HTML markup.

If you look at an empty index.wml (you can look at this one which is used as template) you'll notice that it starts as follows:

#use wml::debian::projectnews::header PUBDATE="2010-XX-XX" SUMMARY=""
#use wml::debian::acronyms

The first line tell's the wml compiler, that he should use the project-news template for the header. It also sets two variables for the publishing date and a small summary. The summary is used for example at the index page for recent issues. It should be to long.

The aconyms line allows the use of specific acronyms, which will show the explanation as a hover text over the acronym. TODO: How does that work exactly? Haven't used it myself, yet.

At the end you'll see something similar:

#use wml::debian::projectnews::footer editor="XXX, XXX, Alexander Reichle-Schmehl"

That tells the wml compilter to add the normal footer to the web page. With the editor variable, it will also add the names of the contributors listed there.

Everything between these lines, is regular HTML, which in our case mostly means: Some headlines (<h2>...</h2>), some paragraphs (<p>...</p>) and some lists (<ul><li>...</li><li>...</li></ul>).

Every article should start with a headline:

<a name="1"></a>
<h2>This is the headline of my small article</h2>

The stuff between the <h2> and </h2> is the actual headline. The <a name="x"></a> creates a so called anchor used to directly jump to a specific entry. It's for example used in the RSS-feed.

After that follows the actual article between <p> and </p>. You may use several of these paragraphs, but note that only the first one will appear in the RSS-feed. (Which might be a bug worth fixing, if you know enough perl...)

As explained, you may use normal HTML in these paragraphs. This means: