Contributing to Documentation

MAAS documentation is hosted on GitHub and published on Its source documents are written in standard GitHub Flavored Markdown (GFM) format, which is very easy to work with. Conventions have been added to support features such as foldouts and admonishments (explained below).

GFM cheat sheets are available on (editing-help) and (Markdown-Cheatsheet).

Documentation bugs

Bugs for documentation issues are submitted here:

and listed here:

Contributing to a web page

Here is an overview of what's involved in getting a change published on the website:

  1. Fork the MAAS documentation repository
  2. Clone that fork on your local system
  3. Create a branch from your local fork/clone
  4. Enter that branch and edit the source documents
  5. View the HTML locally
  6. Push your branch to your fork (on GitHub)
  7. Create a Pull Request for that branch

A Documentation team member will review your work, suggest improvements, and eventually merge it with the appropriate branch (series). Publication to the website is a separate step (performed internally), so it can be a few days before the changes actually show up. Please be patient!


Metadata can be included in any file. Currently, this is used for:

  • title element
  • todo list (file improvements)
  • table of contents

This information is written as key:value pairs at the very top of the page. For example:

Title: Install from ISO | MAAS
TODO: images need updating when Ubuntu 17.04 is released
      check for changes to bug and modify text accordingly
table_of_contents: True

# Title of document

Text goes here blah blah blah
  • The TODO items must be left-aligned as shown above.
  • The table of contents will contain only level 2 headers.
  • The metadata section is terminated by a blank line.


Text is organised into sections. These are auto-generated, there is nothing extra you need to do:

# Top level header (typically the same as the Title element)
## Second level header
### Third level header

Code blocks

Code blocks are created using the code-fencing markup of three backticks, followed by the type of code:

maas command do something
maas command do something else

The most common types used are: bash, yaml, json, and no-highlight.

Inline code

Use a backtick to inline filenames and other literals like this:

Use a backtick to `inline filenames and other literals`.


Admonishments are used to distinguish information from the rest of the text. They use the following format:

!!! [admonishment-type] "[title]": 
    [aligned text]


  • admonishment-type can be 'Note', 'Warning', 'Positive', or 'Negative'.
  • title is an optional title (visible in HTML)
  • aligned text is the text

When a value for 'title' is omitted, the default will be the type itself. If the 'title' has a null value (i.e. "") then no title will be displayed.

Admonishment examples

A standard 'Note' type admonishment:

!!! Note: 
    If KVM-backed nodes are used, ensure that the 'maas' user on the rack
    controller can connect to the KVM host using a passphraseless private SSH

A standard 'Warning' type admonishment:

!!! Warning: 
    Data will be lost unless you do the right thing.

A 'Positive' type admonishment with title:

!!! Positive "High score":
    A positive note that should include a title.

A 'Negative' type admonishment with title:

!!! Negative "Game over": 
    A negative note that should include a title.

A 'Positive' type admonishment with no title:

!!! Positive "": 
    I'm done, and I feel fine.

The above examples will appear as:

Note: If KVM-backed nodes are used, ensure that the 'maas' user on the rack controller can connect to the KVM host using a passphraseless private SSH key.

Warning: Data will be lost unless you do the right thing.

High score: A positive note that should include a title.

Game over: A negative note that should include a title.

I'm done, and I feel fine.


When a page contains a lot of extraneous information such as walkthroughs containing many images or reference tables, a foldout can be used. This will create a collapsed header which, when clicked, will expand to display all the content below it.

^# Header
  Content can be multi-paragraphed and will be sent through the Markdown parser

  as long as content is continually indented under the header.

Links to internal files or external URLs use the following format:

[visible text][label]

The visible text is what will appear on the web page. The label is used to refer to the destination, which is placed at the bottom of the file:

<!-- LINKS -->

[label]: destination

For example:

- For more on this topic see [DHCP][dhcp].
- To understand haproxy, see the [upstream configuration manual][upstream-haproxy-manual].



The visible text should use an active style as opposed to a passive style. For instance, try to avoid:

A [proxy][maas-proxy] can optionally be configured.


  • An internal page is referred to by its source filename.
  • Try to use the same label:destination pair throughout the documentation.


An image should not be overly cropped - allow for context. When ready, place the image file in the media directory.

In terms of linking, they are managed very similarly to hyperlinks. However, they are placed on their own line; are preceded by an exclamation point; and both the label and destination have a specific naming convention:

![alt attribute][img__webui_descriptor]

The bottom of the file will look like:

[img__webui_descriptor]: ../media/filename__webui_descriptor.png


  • filename: name of file containing the image (omit the extension '.md')
  • webui: version of MAAS corresponding to the image of the web UI
  • alt attribute: text that is shown in place of the image if the latter cannot be displayed for some reason
  • descriptor: a short description of the image (e.g. 'enable-dhcp')

For example:

![enable dhcp][img__2.1_enable-dhcp]
![enable fire alarm][img__enable-fire-alarm]


[img__2.1_enable-dhcp]: ../media/installconfig-networking-dhcp__2.1_enable-dhcp.png
[img__enable-fire-alarm]: ../media/installconfig-networking-dhcp__enable-fire-alarm.png

If the image is not of the MAAS web UI then simply omit the version part, like in the second image above.

Central images directory

For publication (on the web site), all branch series use the media directory in the 'master' branch. This means:

  • You must be very careful when renaming or removing an image in master as it will affect all non-master branches.
  • Any image introduced in a non-master branch must be forward-ported to the master branch.


The naming of a file is based upon its location in the menu (see below). This makes it easier for the reader and the writer to build up a mental model of how the set of pages is structured.

For example, the page corresponding to file is found under 'Install & Configure' and then 'Networking'.


Do not use a "Caps Everywhere" style. It is only used in level one headers and the title metadata. References (visible text) to these page titles (including the navigation) should just capitalize the first letter. Obviously, this does not pertain to words that should always be capitalized according to basic grammar rules (e.g. acronyms, proper nouns).

Adding a page (file) to the documentation may require the altering of metadata.yaml. Doing so will insert an entry into the left navigation pane (the menu) on the website.

This is considered a major change so ensure your PR (pull request) includes a comment highlighting this change and why it is needed.

Build and view the HTML

First install the builder. On Ubuntu 16.04 LTS:

sudo snap install documentation-builder

To build the HTML, while in the root of the MAAS docs repository:


See the documentation-builder GitHub project for details.

You will now need a web server. See the Ubuntu Server Guide for instructions on setting up Apache. The DocumentRoot should be the build directory. To test, point your browser at:

Alternatively, you can use Python to start a simple HTTP server (port 8000). While in the build directory run:

python -m SimpleHTTPServer

With Python 3:

python3 -m http.server

Style and language

Please follow these guidelines for style and language:

  • Resist being overly formal.
  • Remember that the average reader is a user, not a developer.
  • Use a spell checker.
  • Use British English (en-GB). See language details, including a comparison with American English (en-US).
  • If including links or examples, ensure they actually work.
  • Use a maximum of 80 columns for files. Here are instructions for the vim and emacs editors.
  • An exception to the above is a link. Never break a link with a carriage return. This includes the [text][label] and [label]: destination combinations.