Other Repo To-Do’s
There are a few key things everyone needs in their repository that are generally useful. The first important file is the
README.md file. A README file broadly contains information about other files in a directory. GitHub made us one by default earlier. It is usually in a plain text format, like markdown (
.md) or text (
.txt). A good README contains:
|HEADING||CONTENTS||QUESTIONS TO ANSWER|
|TITLE/SUMMARY||General information||What does your project do? How is it used? Share your vision!|
|AUTHORS||Credits for maintainers||Who is responsible for this project?|
|GETTING STARTED||Installation & dependency instructions||If someone were to pick up your project today, what dependencies would they need to install to get it to work?|
|LICENSE||Copyright and licensing information||How can others extend, use, remix, and distribute your work? Is there a particular citation format to use?|
|CONTRIBUTING||Guide for prospective contributors||How can others help? Make it easy for others to get involved by letting them know how to submit new features, report issues, or offer other assistance.|
|THANKS||Acknowledgments||OSS can sometimes be thankless. Don’t be that person! Acknowledge the entities who help you. You can even provide a link to your say thanks inbox to pay that effort forward|
The second one is to choose a license and add it to your repository as a
LICENSE file (no extension). Choosing a license is an important part of openly sharing your work online and can help let people know how they can use your work – for example, do you want others to be able to modify your code and redistribute it? For many of the open source tools we rely on, it would be impossible to do our work without the code authors and maintainers using a license that outlines those provisions. If there is no license, you must assume All Rights Reserved, which means you can see and run the code, but not much else.
For help in wading through the many types of open source licenses, please visit https://choosealicense.com/.