Contributions can come in many different ways, not all are technical. How do I contribute? You can always contact us with questions.

Ideas, feature requests

Provide an interface or workflow idea

First, thanks, this is complicated stuff. Interface (e.g. forms, reports, searches) mockups are graphical ways of asking for new features. We love to see them. To create a mock-up you can use tools like Illustrator, Photoshop, or more technical design tools like Balsamiq or Sketch, or just draw them on paper and take a picture with your phone. The issue templates have inputs for handling images, just drag and drop them there. Add a little story, or multiple pictures to help describe how you might use the interface.

Provide a suggestion for a feature or improvement via a video

Send! It is super useful for you to record your screen, or position a video camera to capture your work on-screen and arround you. This way we see exactly how you work. You can send us big videos through file sharing services like in new window. Find ways to Contact us here.


Follow TaxonWorks code conventions

  • Various files exist in the code-base.
  • We have code linter (Rubocop), but it is not heavily used. With growth this may change.

Submit changes to the code base or repository

  • Forkopen in new window the repository on Github
  • Make a new branch off of the development branch
    • It helps if the branch tracks an issue number, like 1234_my_feature_request
  • If you have experience, rebase your branch against development before making a pull request
  • From your repository on Github select your branch, and use buttons there to make a pull request.

Document the code?

TaxonWorks code documentationopen in new window is done inline with Yard tagsopen in new window.


This software and workflow together make it possible for all to contribute to TaxonWorks Doc. Note all the pages here in have an "edit this page" feature. Scroll down to bottom of this page to see it.


You can edit files offline, on your own local computer, or online within the browser.

You will need a Githubopen in new window account.

NOTE: Using this method also ensures everyone gets contribution credit and recognition along with the ability to generate metrics and track this work.


A brief summary of the steps.

A TaxonWorks Docs GitHub repositoryopen in new window team member will review, make edits, ping you with questions if needed, and then accept the pull request to "merge" this into the live documentation.


Offline editing follows a typical Git-based workflow that are detailed on Github and many other places online.

  • Fork the repository
  • Clone the fork your local machine
  • Make a new feature branch
  • Edit, and commit to the branch
  • Push your local edits to your Github fork
  • Make a pull request

Including screenshots or images

In adding documentation, you will note that on any page at docs.taxonworks.orgopen in new window you can click the Edit pencil icon to add / edit text. To manage the screenshot image files we add to the documentation, we use TaxonWorks Meta Project hosted on To add screenshots to this documentation, you'll need to become a member of that TaxonWorks Meta Project. Let us know you want to be added (e.g. send dlpaul AT illinois DOT edu an email, or ping us on gitteropen in new window). When taking screenshots, note the resolution of your computer's monitor makes a difference if these images are sharp and clear or out of focus.

  • Take the desired screenshots.
  • Upload these images (in bulk or one-at-a-time) to the TaxonWorks Meta Project using the New Image task.

In TaxonWorks, find the generated image link URLs, using the Filter Image task. Try Filter Image using the Housekeeping filter to limit your result set to only images uploaded by you.

  • In the resulting set, click on the desired image, then
  • Click the Navigate radial under the image and select Show.
  • From Attributes copy the short URL to orginal URL link.
  • Return to editing documentation and use the Markdown format or HTML format below to insert image URLs (examples next).
    • Note that both methods allow you to specify the image size.

Markdown for image with caption

Examples here show the markdown (md) format for adding a caption to an image.

  • Select one of the four options below for your caption. Put that text string into the documentation as described next.
  • With the position option, choose left, center, or right which aligns your caption text according to what you pick.
  • Enter the text of your choice in-between the brackets [caption text goes here].
  • Paste in the short URL to orginal URL link (from Filter Image > Navigate radial > Show > Attributes).
  • Add alt text in-between brackets. It is best practice to include this for accessibility.
  • (Optional) Declare the width or height or both of the image to control the size displayed.
    • The default sizes works well. Sometimes, depending on the screenshot, it might appear too large and then this option gives you the ability to modify the size.

#position[caption text goes here](link [alt text if you want it])
#position[caption text goes here](link [alt text if you want it] w{60%})
#position[caption text goes here](link [alt text if you want it] h{50%})
#position[caption text goes here](link [alt text if you want it] w{80%} h{50%})

HTML for image with caption

  <img src="" alt="Sample image" style="width:100%">
  <figcaption>Fig.1 - A TaxonWorks Interface</figcaption>

Adding a file

Ordering sidebar content

In brief this is controlled alphabetically, or it can be over-written via 2 frontmatter parameters, sidebarPosition and sidebarParentPosition.


Where: In any ( or other) documentation file. When: You want to position the content of that document within the context of the other files within that directory.


Where: Only in a When: You want to position the name of the directory within the context of other directories and files at the level of that directory.

Order by filename

First, the system will take the files within the directory in alphabetical order of the filenames to generate the sidebar. For example:

Folder structure:

-- My folder example


# A is the first letter of this title


# B is the first letter of this title
My folder example
  B is the first letter of this title
  A is the first letter of this title

Order by sidebarPosition variable

sidebarPosition allows you to change the order of the sidebar regardless of the alphabetical order of the files. Let's take the example above, but now we're going to add sidebarPosition in each file to change the order:


sidebarPosition: 200
# A is the first letter of this title


sidebarPosition: 100
# B is the first letter of this title
My folder example
  B is the first letter of this title
  A is the first letter of this title

Style conventions

We use Markdown. Many guides exist, for example on GitHubopen in new window.

  • Bold - ?
  • Italics - As typically used in English writing, to add emphasis, or draw attention.
  • "Double quotes" - follow typical English use.
  • 'Single quoted words' are literal values to be input or observed
  • Bullets - Actions we are instructing the user to take. Do this now.
  • Numbered bullets - Unused?
  • Backticks ` are used to wrap text. See next.
  • Highlighted words (surrounded by backticks) refer to, typically literal, text or elements in the application, that are generally part of the user interface (as opposed to dynamic data being displayed). For example they might be on button or field names like "Notice the Data, Tasks, Favourite tabs".
  • Inline quotes - ?? (use "> ")

this is an inline quote

  • Triple-tick blocks - use these for literal examples. Put 3 backtick marks ``` before the text block and 3 backtick marks after the text. This results in the following block in documentation.
Some code, or literal example.

Project management

How to issues are triaged, prioritized, and discussed.

Categorize an Issue on Github

Not everyone has permissions to label issues.See their in new window