SDF Tutorial Editing Guide
- Creating and Editing Tutorials
- Coding A Tutorial
Many young and very impressionable people discover SDF every day. They ask us what we might feel are stupid questions, but it's not their fault. They've grown up only knowing that hackers destroy computer networks and exploit people and their information. The solution is not to ridicule or shun these kiddiots, but to show them that there is a better and truer way.
— From the README.TXT
This guide has been introduced to help members more easily contribute to the SDF Tutorials project. The first section of the guide gives brief instructions for creating or editing tutorial files using RCS for version control. The second part of the guide discusses tutorial-specific HTML coding and contains some template code.
It would behoove you to read the original
the SDF Tutorials Project in the tutorial files directory
/sys/html/tutorials). It not only expresses the aim of
the project, but it also contains more detailed information on the use
of RCS than is given here.
This guide assumes knowledge of basic shell use and text file editing. Familiarity with HTML is not necessary, though it may prove helpful.
Creating and Editing Tutorials
To create or edit a tutorial, change your working directory to
/sys/html/tutorials in your shell on the main SDF cluster (e.g. sdf.org, not MetaArray):
$ cd /sys/html/tutorials
Creating a New Tutorial
Inside the tutorials directory, you can use
quickly create an empty HTML file with an RCS Id tag at the bottom.
umask command first to make sure that the
permissions on the new file will allow the web server (and other
users) to read it.
$ umask 022 $ echo -e "\n\$Id\$" > your_tutorial_filename.html
Use the command
ci -u to check-in the file with RCS
and leave it unlocked it so that anyone can edit it.
$ ci -u your_tutorial_filename.html
The first time you check-in a file, you will be asked for a description of it. Please write something useful.
You may now edit your tutorial using the instructions in the next section to check the file in and out of RCS.
Once your tutorial is ready for public display, please add it to
the list of available tutorials so people can actually find it on the
web. You must edit the
index.html file in the tutorials
directory to do this. When editing the
use the same check-in/check-out procedure that you do when editing a
Editing an Existing Tutorial
Inside the tutorials directory, use the command
to check out the file with RCS and lock it while you make your edits.
$ co -l filename
If when using
co -l you are told that the file
is already locked please STOP what you are doing and wait for it to be
checked back in. If it does not get checked back in, email the author
and let them know you want to check out the file and edit
You may now edit the file using your preferred text editor. If you
save your work periodically, you can load and reload the tutorial in
your web browser to see your changes. The URL for the tutorial file
(e.g., if you are
When you are finished editing the file, use the command
-u to check the file back in with RCS and unlock it so that
others may edit it.
$ ci -u filename
When you check-in a file, you will be asked to describe the changes you've made to it. Be as terse as you like, but please write something useful.
Editing the FAQsMetaARPA users can also edit the FAQs. These are plain text files, found in
/sys/html/tutorials/FAQ/. The list of FAQs for each section is in a dotfile '
.list'. These FAQ files are synced regularly with those shown by the
Coding A Tutorial
Tutorials are coded using HTML. If you are already handy with HTML, then you are just moments away from editing your tutorial! Please read the Before You Start Coding section for some implementation specifics, and at least skim the Coding Style section before proceeding.
If you are not familiar with HTML, the W3C site has a very brief tutorial, Getting Started With HTML, which will teach you enough of the rudiments to be able to author a tutorial. In addition, the template on this page is furnished with ample comments to help HTML beginners.
If you don't have the time or inclination to learn HTML, you may
still be able to contribute to the Tutorials Project. Write a tutorial
(or a section, correction, addendum, etc.) in plain text and tack a
bboard:<TUTORIALS>. One of your MetaARPA
colleagues may just volunteer to HTMLize your work for you.
Before You Start Coding!
SDF tutorial files contain HTML code, but they are not
complete HTML documents. When they are served to web
browsers, the site's
index.cgi wraps them in the
site-wide navigation header and footer. The code in tutorial files
represents the contents of a
and must not contain the following elements/tags:
Tutorial files will also contain an RCS $Id tag, which will
look something like:
$Id:filename.html,v 1.11 2011/01/01
11:11:11 username Exp $. There is no need to edit this, as it
is automatically generated by RCS. It is best to leave it as the last
line of the file.
Do not hotlink images from other sites. Put a copy
of any image files you wish to use
/sys/html/tutorials/images, and make sure their
permissions allow the web server to read them (
will do this).
Always provide a description of the image for
users of text-based browsers and the visually impaired in
alt attribute of the
<img src="http://sdf.org/tutorials/images/example.png" alt="Image of a Blickensderfer No. 5 typewriter">
In the event that you rely heavily upon a source in your tutorial, particularly if you use any direct quotations from it, you should cite the work properly.
Include a heading for "References", or "Notes" in your tutorial
(typically at the end) and use a numbered list
<ol>) to enumerate your sources in
Style for Notes.
<h2 id="notes">Notes</h2> <ol> <li id="bartles">James Bartles, <cite>Boogers For Breakfast</cite> (Sacramento: Wine Cooler Press, 1979), 74.</li> <li id="moribund">Delron Moribund, "Crossover Calisthenics", <cite> Travesties of Better Judgement</cite> 64 (2009): 56-60.</li> </ol>
Then, where the sources are cited in the text of your tutorial, use
a superscript (
<sup>) number or a number in
parenthesis hyperlinked to the appropriate list item.
<p>The secret to a proper nose-goblin ganache is in the picking<sup><a href="#bartles">1</a></sup>. (...)</p>
<p>Without adequate stretching beforehand, you are certain to suffer a Ludmilian haemorrhage(<a href="#moribund">2</a>). (...)</p>
There are further examples of this in the code template below.
Which HTML Version?
The current W3C recommendation is HTML 5. In most respects, the core elements of HTML haven't changed since the mid 1990s; some tags have been added, and some removed. To maximize backwards compatibility, you might restrict yourself to the following elements, which have gone unchanged since 1996:
- Structural Elements
- Grouping/Block-Level Elements
<dl>and their subordinates
<table>and its subordinates
- and, of course,
- Text-level/Inline Elements
Many closing tags are optional, but for code clarity they can be
nice. Stay away from XHTML self-closing tag forms, however
src="some_url"/>, et cetera).
Furthermore, the tutorials are a collaborative effort. You may be the first author to work on a tutorial, but you probably won't be the last. If your tutorial is a hairball of style attributes and idiosyncratic tag/element usage, it only makes it harder for the next author to edit/expand — particularly if they're not as well-versed in web coding as you are.
Please try as much as possible to use plain HTML when coding tutorials. Everything you should need to write a clear tutorial is already in the language:
- Structure your tutorial using headings (
<h1>,<h2>,...,<h6>), and stay away from using
- Use paragraphs (
<p>) for blocks of prose, and preformatted blocks (
<pre>) for source code listings, sample console output, or wherever else whitespace needs to be retained and a monospaced font used.
Rather than use styled
<span> tags or other
generic grouping elements, use semantic tags which describe the text
you want to differentiate from body text. If the user's browser
supports the tag, it will be presented differently.
- For important text, use
- For emphasis, use
- For the names of commands, file names, or source code listings, use
- For example console text, use
- And so-on...
There is a usage summary of text-level semantic elements for the current W3C recommendation (HTML 5). It's handy. Not all tags are supported by all browsers, but a semantically tagged tutorial is more useful — and easier to style — than a document full of custom styled spans.
The code below may be used as a template if you are creating a new tutorial, or re-writing one from scratch. You don't have to use it; it is merely provided as a convenience.
The text contained between the
--> tokens are comments, and may be discarded.
<!-- SDF Tutorial Template ====================================================================== Use of this code is entirely optional. It is provided as a sample of coding style, and a quick way to start a new tutorial for users who may be beginners with HTML. --> <style type="text/css"> @import url('https://sdf.org/tutorials/tutorials.css'); </style> <!-- The title of the tutorial should be the only level-1 header (<h1>) in the document. --> <h1>Title of Tutorial</h1> <!-- For longer tutorials, a table of contents is nice. Shorter tutorials (like this one) really don't need it, so this section can be omitted. Replace the <ul> tags with <ol> tags for a numbered list. --> <ul> <li> <a href="#section-1">Section Heading</a> <!-- to get an indented section of the list, we simply embed a list inside of a list item --> <ul> <li> <a href="#subsection-1">Subsection Heading</a> </li> </ul> </li> <li><a href="#section-2">Another Section Heading</a></li> <li><a href="#notes">Notes</a></li> </ul> <!-- This is the beginning of a section. It starts with a level-2 heading (<h2>) and has been given an 'id' attribute so that it may be linked to. --> <h2 id="section-1">Section Heading</h2> <!-- Remember to always contain your paragraphs in <p> tags. For strings of code, filenames, commands, etc., which appear inside of a paragraph, wrap them in <code> tags to differentiate them from the rest of the paragraph's text. --> <p>By issuing the <code>sac -nar</code> command, your spirit animal will be changed to the narwhal.</p> <!-- For entire blocks of code, place the <code> inside of a <pre> instead of a <p>. Text inside of a <pre> has its whitespace characters (space, tab, carriage-return) interpreted literally, unlike text inside of a <p>. --> <pre><code>10 PRINT "DO YOU EAT BOOGERS?" 20 INPUT X 30 IF X="YES" THEN PRINT "YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN.": END 40 IF X="NO" THEN PRINT "WHAT, YOU THINK YOU'RE BETTER THAN ME?" </code></pre> <!-- For sample program output, console sessions, etc., use <samp> inside a <pre> block. --> <pre><samp>$ finger man@arms Login: man Name: Duncan Directory: /eternia/heroic_warriors/man Shell: /bin/bashasaurus No mail. Plan: Make Orko clean-up the mess he left in my workshop. </samp></pre> <!-- This sub-section begins with a level-3 heading (<h3>). HTML provides tags for sections nested six levels deep (tags <h1> through <h6>). If you need to nest sections seven or more levels deep ...you might consider restructuring your tutorial! --> <h3 id="subsection-1">Subsection Heading</h3> <!-- For VERY IMPORTANT TEXT, make it <strong>. To add emphasis to a word or phrase, use <em>. --> <p><strong>Do not forget to flush the buffer</strong>. If you do, the smell will be <em>intolerable</em>.</p> <h2 id="section-2">Another Section Heading</h2> <!-- This paragraph gives an example of two styles of footnote referencing. Both are hyperlinked to corresponding list items (<li>) in the Notes section below. --> <p>The Honeywell 6080 can be induced to perform a samba by pressing the button labeled "Samba" on the operator's console<a href="#fn1"><sup>1</sup></a>. That mainframe's forté, however, is the foxtrot(<a href="#fn2">2</a>), but the inducement of that particular step is beyond the scope of this tutorial.</p> <!-- Here is a sample footnotes section. In this example, we're using footnotes to cite a reference, but this same style can be used for footnotes of any kind. Your tutorial may not require any footnotes. If it doesn't, feel free to snip this entire section out. --> <h2 id="notes">Notes</h2> <!-- We're using an ordered list (<ol>) so that the notes are automatically numbered. A single reference is cited twice in the tutorial. As you can see, you may use an abbreviated form of citation for subsequent references to a single work. --> <ol> <li id="fn1">Zurgone Vemliat, <cite>Mainframe Dancing Habits</cite> (Milwaukie: Brewers' Press, 1988), 96.</li> <li id="fn2">Vemliat, <cite>Mainframe</cite>, 112.</li> </ol> <!-- At the very end, here, is the RCS Id tag. Let it be, my friend. --> $Id: tutorial_editing.html,v 1.26 2020/08/11 14:40:49 papa Exp $
To see how this template looks when rendered, visit