Standard for Public Code

Use plain English

Requirements

  • All code and documentation MUST be in English.
  • Any translation MUST be up to date with the English version and vice-versa.
  • There SHOULD be no acronyms, abbreviations, puns or legal/domain specific terms in the codebase without an explanation preceding it or a link to an explanation.
  • The name of the project or codebase SHOULD be descriptive and free from acronyms, abbreviations, puns or branding for names.
  • Any code, documentation and tests MAY have a translation.

Why this is important

  • Make your codebase and what it does understandable for a wider variety of stakeholders in multiple contexts.
  • Helps with the discoverability of your codebase.

What this does not do

  • Make explanations of your codebase’s functionality understandable
  • Make your organization’s jargon understandable without an explanation

How to test

  • See if translations and the English version have the same content
  • Validate that no unexplained acronyms, abbreviations, puns or legal/domain specific terms are in the documentation
  • Test the documentation

Policy makers: what you need to do

  • Frequently test with other management, designers and developers in the process if they understand what you are delivering and how you document it

Management: what you need to do

  • Try to limit the use of acronyms, abbreviations, puns or legal/domain specific terms in internal communications in and between teams and stakeholders
  • Be critical of documentations and descriptions in proposals and changes, if you can’t understand something, probably others will also not

Developers and designers: what you need to do

  • Frequently test with other policy makers and management in the process if they understand what you are delivering and how you document it

Further reading