Documenting an integration

Every Zulip integration must be documented in zerver/webhooks/mywebhook/doc.md (or templates/zerver/integrations/<integration_name>.md, for non-webhook integrations).

Usually, this involves a few steps:

  • Add text explaining all of the steps required to setup the integration, including what URLs to use, etc. See Writing guidelines for detailed writing guidelines.

Zulip's pre-defined Markdown macros can be used for some of these steps. See Markdown macros for further details.

  • Make sure you've added your integration to zerver/lib/integrations.py; this results in your integration appearing on the /integrations page.

  • You'll need to add a SVG graphic of your integration's logo under the static/images/integrations/logos/<name>.svg, where <name> is the name of the integration, all in lower case; you can usually find them in the product branding or press page. Make sure to optimize the SVG graphic by running svgo -f path-to-file.

If you cannot find a SVG graphic of the logo, please find and include a PNG image of the logo instead.

  • Finally, generate a message sent by the integration and take a screenshot of the message to provide an example message in the documentation. If your new integration is an incoming webhook integration, you can generate such a message from your test fixtures using send_webhook_fixture_message:

./manage.py send_webhook_fixture_message \ --fixture=zerver/webhooks/pingdom/fixtures/imap_down_to_up.json \ '--url=/api/v1/external/pingdom?stream=stream_name&api_key=api_key'

When generating the screenshot of a sample message, give your test bot a nice name like "GitHub Bot", use the project's logo as the bot's avatar, and take the screenshot showing the stream/topic bar for the message, not just the message body.

Markdown macros

Macros are elements in the format of {!macro.md!} that insert common phrases and steps at the location of the macros. Macros help eliminate repeated content in our documentation.

The source for macros is the Markdown files under templates/zerver/help/include in the main Zulip server repository. If you find multiple instances of particular content in the documentation, you can always create a new macro by adding a new file to that folder.

Here are a few common macros used to document Zulip's integrations:

  • {!create-stream.md!} macro - Recommends that users create a dedicated stream for a given integration. Usually the first step in setting up an integration or incoming webhook. For an example rendering, see Step 1 of the docs for Zulip's GitHub integration.

  • {!create-bot-construct-url.md!} macro - Instructs users to create a bot for a given integration and construct a webhook URL using the bot API key and stream name. The URL is generated automatically for every incoming webhook by using attributes in the WebhookIntegration class. This macro is usually used right after {!create-stream!}. For an example rendering, see Step 2 of the docs for Zulip's GitHub integration.

    Note: If special configuration is required to set up the URL and you can't use this macro, be sure to use the https://yourZulipDomain.zulipchat.com/api template variable, so that your integration documentation will provide the correct URL for whatever server it is deployed on. If special configuration is required to set the SITE variable, you should document that too.

  • {!append-stream-name.md!} macro - Recommends appending &stream=stream_name to a URL in cases where supplying a stream name in the URL is optional. Supplying a stream name is optional for most Zulip integrations. If you use {!create-bot-construct-url.md!}, this macro need not be used.

  • {!append-topic.md!} macro - Recommends appending &topic=my_topic to a URL to supply a custom topic for webhook notification messages. Supplying a custom topic is optional for most Zulip integrations. If you use {!create-bot-construct-url.md!}, this macro need not be used.

  • {!congrats.md!} macro - Inserts congratulatory lines signifying the successful setup of a given integration. This macro is usually used at the end of the documentation, right before the sample message screenshot. For an example rendering, see the end of the docs for Zulip's GitHub integration.

  • {!download-python-bindings.md!} macro - Links to Zulip's API page to download and install Zulip's API bindings. This macro is usually used in non-webhook integration docs under templates/zerver/integrations/<integration_name>.md. For an example rendering, see Step 2 of the docs for Zulip's Codebase integration.

  • {!change-zulip-config-file.md!} macro - Instructs users to create a bot and specify said bot's credentials in the config file for a given non-webhook integration. This macro is usually used in non-webhook integration docs under templates/zerver/integrations/<integration_name>.md. For an example rendering, see Step 4 of the docs for Zulip's Codebase integration.

  • {!git-append-branches.md!} and {!git-webhook-url-with-branches.md!} - These two macros explain how to specify a list of branches in the webhook URL to filter notifications in our Git-related webhooks. For an example rendering, see the last paragraph of Step 2 in the docs for Zulip's GitHub integration.

  • {!webhook-url.md!} - Used internally by {!create-bot-construct-url.md!} to generate the webhook URL.

  • {!zulip-config.md!} - Used internally by {!change-zulip-config-file.md!} to specify the lines in the config file for a non-webhook integration.

  • {!webhook-url-with-bot-email.md!} - Used in certain non-webhook integrations to generate URLs of the form:

    https://bot_email:bot_api_key@yourZulipDomain.zulipchat.com/api/v1/external/beanstalk

    For an example rendering, see Zulip's Beanstalk integration.

Writing guidelines

For the vast majority of integrations, you should just copy the docs for a similar integration and edit it. Basecamp is a good one to copy.

General writing guidelines

At at high level, the goals are for the instructions to feel simple, be easy to follow, and be easy to maintain. Easier said than done, but here are a few concrete guidelines.

Feel simple
  • Use simple language.
  • Use the imperative tense.
  • Only describe things as much as necessary. For example: "Select Project settings." is better than "Select Project settings from the dropdown."
  • Cut unnecessary words. For example, do not start steps with transition words like "Next", "First", "Now", etc. Each step should be structurally independent.
Be easy to follow
  • Actions should appear in order, including implicit ones. So "Under Webhooks, click Add Webhook." not "Click Add Webhook in the Webhooks section." "Under Webhooks" is an action, since it’s basically the same as "Find the Webhooks section".
  • UI elements in third-party websites should be bolded.
  • Trailing punctuation can be stripped from bolded elements. For example, "Enable this checkbox" instead of "Enable this checkbox?". Starting punctuation such as the "+" in "+ New Notification" should be preserved.
  • You can use a screenshot if a step is particularly complicated (see Screenshots below).
Be easy to maintain
  • Follow the organization and wording of existing docs as much as possible.

Guidelines for specific steps

Most doc files should start with a generic sentence about the integration, for example, "Get webhook name notifications in Zulip!" A typical doc will then have the following steps.

"Create the stream" step
  • Use the create-stream macro. This step should be omitted if the integration only supports notifications via PMs.
"Create the bot" step
  • Typically, use the create-bot-construct-url macro.
  • Existing macros should be used for this if they exist, but if the macro defaults don’t work, it may make sense to write something custom for the integration in question. This step is mandatory for all integrations.
  • In general, this should be one step, even if it takes multiple clicks.
  • Begin by mentioning the third-party service being documented with language such as "Go to your Taiga project", "Go to your GitHub repository", "On your X project", etc. Assume the user is already logged in to their account.
  • If a UI element is difficult to spot, you can use additional cues like "Click on Settings in the top-right corner" or "On the left, click Webhooks.". Only do this if the element is actually difficult to spot.
  • If this step includes more than 5 sentences, it may need to be split up into multiple steps.
"Fill out form and save" step
  • Filling out a form and clicking Save should generally be one step, even if there are multiple fields to fill out.
  • It’s fine to say things like "Follow the on-screen instructions to create an app" if they have a sequence of steps they guide you through that are pretty clear.

Lastly, end with the congrats.md macro and a screenshot of a sample message within Zulip.

Screenshots

Screenshots are hard to maintain, so we generally err on the side of not including screenshots. That being said, screenshots may be used to aid the process if the third-party UI is confusing or a specific UI element is hard to find. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Screenshots should be small and should mainly include the third-party UI that the text is referring to that is difficult to locate.
  • Screenshots should never include the entirety of a third-party website’s page.
  • Each screenshot should come after the step that refers to it.