[Matplotlib-devel] Documentation

Matt Arcidy marcidy at gmail.com
Thu Feb 8 03:29:57 EST 2018

Hi All,

Please forgive the presumption of pulling this topic out of from the
meeting thread especially as this is also in a self-introduction email.

I want to help with the documentation effort.  I read Tom's article in
numfocus and the desired skillset rang true.  I have 10ish years experience
writing tech docs, a few 100+ pages.   I write creatively, and I am still
somewhat new to matplotlib.  I am happy to work in any capacity, though i
am most interested in cranking out the first draft of the book.

I have looked into the available documentation over the past month+ so I
could come with understanding and ideas, some of which I hope are actually

Both the meeting thread and Tom requested ideas for reorganizing the
tutorials and examples as a place to start, so I'll throw one out: explicit
definition of an audience, something to which all the documentation can

Right now the tutorials are leveled as beginner, intermediate, and expert,
which is great, but it's not clear what that means.  Explicitly defining
the required skill sets, while not perfect, will allow sorting of concepts
and people into each bin.

As an example, (please excuse the contrivence):

- Sophomore in college
- dead set on being a data scientist
- 2 programming classes in python
- never used any kind of CAD software ever (i.e. does not have any concept
of a plot beyond a line on graph paper)

- 1 week away from Zoology PhD dissertation, under a deadline
- Has used R and Matplotlib to create very basic plots for papers
- Wants to create a plot with species heart size over adult weight, with
the marker being a jpg of the species' actual heart, beating at the actual
species' heart rate on the plot.

- Post Doc or professional
- 10+ years of plotting experience using various packages but not matplotlib
- has funding to contribute significant functionality, but needs to get up
to speed on everything now

Obviously this is just beginner, intermediate, expert, but they can be
explicitly targeted/taught based on their skill level.  Laura needs
hand-holding, Xian needs a great API reference, Ayah needs a mosaic of
everything and a good architecture map.

In the same vein as above, learning paths through the tutorial documents.
There are some separable plotting skills, like visually designing the plot,
animation, application development, matplotlib development...etc. Each
skill could have beginner/intermediate/expert level tutorials which
progress naturally, creating a learning tract for each skill.  Skills can
be stacked to flow into specific roles.

Looking at this from outside, the best part about this project is all the
information is already there. I have more ideas to dump on you, but I'll
postpone until I have a better understanding of where I can fit.

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