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Contributing to PHP: How to Contribute to PHP’s Manual

In this two-part article series, we’ll be covering how to contribute to the PHP project. This will hopefully clarify what steps need to be taken for those looking to become more involved with PHP.

This first part will be covering how to contribute to PHP’s documentation, including how to request a account and what to do once an account has been granted.

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Why contribute to PHP?

Why should you consider contributing to PHP?

PHP is an open source project that relies upon the willingness of its community to invest their time into the project. The more people become involved, the more the community at large stands to benefit. Whether it’s improving the documentation around the language or contributing bug fixes or features to the core, the cumulative efforts of every developer quickly add up.

Becoming more involved with PHP will also help to take your knowledge of the language to the next level. Contributing to the documentation will give you a more thorough knowledge of the language, and contributing to the core will keep you up to date with any changes that are happening to it. Becoming a contributor will also enable you to ultimately request a account, which will put you in a position to help decide what direction the language is heading in. It is therefore definitely a worthwhile thing to do, if you enjoy working with PHP.

About PHP’s documentation

The documentation is maintained in the DocBook XML format. Generally speaking, little knowledge of this format is required to be able to contribute to PHP’s documentation. It’s easy to pick up, so you can simply follow along with the XML syntax used in other files of the documentation.

The folder structure for the documentation looks as follows:
Folder structure overview

The doc-base folder contains some tools for converting the XML-based documentation into other formats. You probably don’t need to concern yourself much with this folder, except when creating custom entities (typically used when adding external links to the docs).

The en folder is specific to the English documentation (other translations will follow their respective two letter country code names). This folder is the one you’ll predominantly be working in. The reference folder contains directories that each pertain to an extension. Each extension folder follows the convention of either having a functions folder (for procedural extensions) or folders named after the extension’s classes (for object-oriented extensions). Each extension folder also contains a few other files, including a book.xml file for the extension’s landing page and a versions.xml file for holding versioning information for when each function was introduced.

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