Contribute to the Class Reference

Godot ships with many nodes and singletons to help you develop your games in GDscript. Each is a class, documented in the class reference. This reference is essential for anyone learning the engine: it is available both online and in the engine.

But it’s incomplete. Many methods, variables and signals lack descriptions. Others changed with recent releases and need updates. The developers can’t write the entire reference on their own. Godot needs you, all of us, to contribute.

Important: we use a collaborative document to track who’s working on what class. Always notify other writers about what you are working on. You’ll find the instructions in the doc.

Note

This guide is available as a Youtube video.

How to contribute

The class reference lies in the following XML files, in Godot’s GitHub repository: doc/classes/.

There are 5 steps to update the class reference (full guide below):

  1. Fork Godot’s repository
  2. Clone your fork on your computer
  3. Edit the class file in doc/classes/ to write documentation
  4. Commit your changes and push them to your fork
  5. Make a pull request on the Godot repository

Warning

always use these XML files to edit the API reference. Do not edit the generated .rST files in the online documentation, hosted in the godot-docs repository.

Get started with GitHub

If you’re new to git and GitHub, this guide will help you get started. You’ll learn to:

  • Fork and clone Godot’s repository
  • Keep your fork up to date with other contributors
  • Create a pull request so your improvements end in the official docs

Note

If you’re new to git, the version-control system Godot uses, go through GitHub’s interactive guide. You’ll learn some essential vocabulary and get a sense for the tool.

Fork Godot

Fork the Godot Engine into a GitHub repository of your own.

Clone the repository on your computer:

git clone https://github.com/your_name/godot.git

Create a new branch to make your changes. It makes it a lot easier to sync your improvements with other docs writers, and it’s easier to cleanup your repository clean if you have any issues with git.

git checkout -b your-new-branch-name

The new branch is the same as your master branch, until you start to write API docs. In the doc/ folder, you’ll find the class reference.

How to keep your local clone up-to-date

Other writers contribute to Godot’s documentation. Your local repository will fall behind it, and you’ll have to synchronize it. Especially if other contributors update the class reference while you work on it.

First add an upstream git remote to work with. Remotes are links to online repositories you can download new files from.

git remote add upstream https://github.com/godotengine/godot

You can check the list of all remote servers with:

git remote -v

You should have 2: origin, your fork on github, that git adds by default, and upstream, that you just added:

origin  https://github.com/your_name/godot.git (fetch)
origin  https://github.com/your_name/godot.git (push)
upstream        https://github.com/godotengine/godot.git (fetch)
upstream        https://github.com/godotengine/godot.git (push)

Each time you want to sync your branch to the state of the upstream repository, enter:

git pull --rebase upstream master

This command will first fetch, or download the latest version of the Godot repository. Then, it will reapply your local changes on top.

If you made changes you don’t want to keep in your local branch, use the following commands instead:

git fetch upstream
git reset --hard upstream master

Warning: The above command will reset your branch to the state of the upstream master branch. It will discard all local changes. Make sure to only run this before you make important changes.

Another option is to delete the branch you’re working on, synchronize the master branch with the Godot repository, and create a brand new branch:

git checkout master
git branch -d your-new-branch-name
git pull --rebase upstream master
git checkout -b your-new-branch-name

If you’re feeling lost by now, come to our IRC channels and ask for help. Experienced git users will give you a hand.

Updating the documentation template

When classes are modified in the source code, the documentation template might become outdated. To make sure that you are editing an up-to-date version, you first need to compile Godot (you can follow the Introduction to the buildsystem page), and then run the following command (assuming 64-bit Linux):

./bin/godot.x11.tools.64 --doctool .

The xml files in doc/classes should then be up-to-date with current Godot Engine features. You can then check what changed using the git diff command. If there are changes to other classes than the one you are planning to document, please commit those changes first before starting to edit the template:

git add doc/classes/*.xml
git commit -m "Sync classes reference template with current code base"

You are now ready to edit this file to add stuff.

Note: If this has been done recently by another contributor, you don’t forcefully need to go through these steps (unless you know that the class you plan to edit has been modified recently).

Push and request a pull of your changes

Once your modifications are finished, push your changes on your GitHub repository:

git add doc/classes/<edited_file>.xml
git commit -m "Explain your modifications."
git push

When it’s done, you can ask for a Pull Request via the GitHub UI of your Godot fork.

Warning

Although you can edit files on GitHub, it’s not recommended. As hundreds of contributors work on Godot, the git history must stay clean. Each commit should bundle all related improvements you make to the class reference, a new feature, bug fixes... When you edit from GitHub, it will create a new branch and a Pull Request every time you want to save it. If a few days pass before your changes get a review, you won’t be able to update to the latest version of the repository cleanly. Also, it’s harder to keep clean indents from GitHub. And they’re very important in the docs.

TL;DR: If you don’t know what you’re doing exactly, do not edit files from GitHub.

How to edit class XML

Edit the file for your chosen class in doc/classes/ to update the class reference. The folder contains an XML file for each class. The XML lists the constants and methods you’ll find in the class reference. Godot generates and updates the XML automatically.

Edit it using your favourite text editor. If you use a code editor, make sure that it doesn’t change the indent style: tabs for the XML, and 4 spaces inside BBcode-style blocks. More on that below.

How to write the class reference

Each class has a brief and a long description. The brief description is always at the top of the page, while the full description lies below the list of methods, variables and constants. Methods, member variables, constants and signals are in separate categories or XML nodes. For each, learn how they work in Godot’s source code, and fill their <description>.

Our job is to add the missing text between these marks:

  • <description></description>
  • <brief_description></brief_description>
  • <constant></constant>
  • <method></method>
  • <member></member>
  • <signal></signal>

Write in a clear and simple language. Always follow the class_reference_styleguide to keep your descriptions short and easy to read. Do not leave empty lines in the descriptions: each line in the XML file will result in a new paragraph.

Here’s how a class looks like in XML:

<class name="Node2D" inherits="CanvasItem" category="Core">
    <brief_description>
    Base node for 2D system.
    </brief_description>
    <description>
    Base node for 2D system. Node2D contains a position, rotation and scale, which is used to position and animate. It can alternatively be used with a custom 2D transform ([Matrix32]). A tree of Node2Ds allows complex hierarchies for animation and positioning.
    </description>
    <methods>
        <method name="set_pos">
            <argument index="0" name="pos" type="Vector2">
            </argument>
            <description>
            Set the position of the 2d node.
            </description>
        </method>
        [...]
        <method name="edit_set_pivot">
            <argument index="0" name="arg0" type="Vector2">
            </argument>
            <description>
            </description>
        </method>
    </methods>
    <members>
        <member name="global_position" type="Vector2" setter="set_global_position" getter="get_global_position" brief="">
        </member>
        [...]
        <member name="z_as_relative" type="bool" setter="set_z_as_relative" getter="is_z_relative" brief="">
        </member>
    </members>
    <constants>
    </constants>
</class>

Use a code editor like Vim, Atom, Code, Notepad++ or anything similar to edit the file quickly. Use the search function to find classes fast.

Improve formatting with BBcode style tags

Godot’s class reference supports BBcode-like tags. They add nice formatting to the text. Here’s the list of available tags:

Tag Effect Usage Result
[Class] Link a class Move the [Sprite]. Move the Sprite.
[method methodname] Link to a method in this class Call [method hide]. See hide.
[method Class.methodname] Link to another class’s method Call [method Spatial.hide]. See hide.
[member membername] Link to a member in this class Get [member scale]. Get scale.
[member Class.membername] Link to another class’s member Get [member Node2D.scale]. Get scale.
[signal signalname] Link to a signal in this class Emit [signal renamed]. Emit renamed.
[signal Class.signalname] Link to another class’s signal Emit [signal Node.renamed]. Emit renamed.
[b] [/b] Bold Some [b]bold[/b] text. Some bold text.
[i] [/i] Italic Some [i]italic[/i] text. Some italic text.
[code] [/code] Monospace Some [code]monospace[/code] text. Some monospace text.
[codeblock] [/codeblock] Multiline preformatted block See below. See below.

Use [codeblock] for pre-formatted code blocks. Inside [codeblock], always use spaces for indentation (the parser will delete tabs). Example:

[codeblock]
func _ready():
    var sprite = get_node("Sprite")
    print(sprite.get_pos())
[/codeblock]

Will display as:

func _ready():
    var sprite = get_node("Sprite")
    print(sprite.get_pos())

I don’t know what this method does!

No problem. Leave it behind, and list the methods you skipped when you request a pull of your changes. Another writer will take care of it.

You can still have a look at the methods’ implementation in Godot’s source code on GitHub. Also, if you have doubts, feel free to ask on the Q&A website and on IRC (freenode, #godotengine).

Localization

Before we translate the documentation, we need to complete and proof-read it in English. We’ll work on localization when we get past 90% completion.