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With Dynamics NAV 2018, we invite you all to join us in GitHub where you can pick up content to customize, extend, or suggest changes to.

Find the right repo

For practical reasons, we have a lot of different repos in GitHub to support our various languages and target audiences. We hinted at it when we moved to the new Docs.microsoft.com site, and we talked about it at Directions in 2018, but here is the official statement:

Customize the Help from Microsoft

By now, you’ll have found the repo with the files that you want to customize. But what to do next?

Get a GitHub account and fork the repo

That’s step 1, and you might already have done this. If you don’t have a GitHub account, we recommend that you sign up for one using the email account that you prefer. This is because you must be signed in to fork a repo, which is our recommended approach to customizing or extending the Microsoft Help.

If you’re signed in, then click the Fork icon in the top-right corner of the page.

The fork is essentially your shadow copy of the Microsoft repo. There, you can make any changes that you want without getting into trouble. If you want to suggest changes to us, you can submit a pull request to the English source repo.

Anyway, fork the repo, and then clone the fork so you get the files on your local disk (or VM or whatever). Make your changes, add your own content, and then use DocFx to generate files that you can deploy to the Dynamics NAV Help Server or any other website. Tips and tricks in the readme.md file in the source repo.

In fact, anyone can contribute to our content, or to your content, if they have access to the repo. nav-content is a public repo, so everyone can see it and fork it. You might want to work in a private repo instead, and that would mean that you would have to give people access to the repo. Get the basics right by reading up on terminology here: https://help.github.com/
We also recommend that you read the Microsoft Docs Contributor Guide because it has a lot of tips and tricks about writing in MarkDown.

Write MarkDown

MarkDown is a text language that is very well suited to write content that will be published to a website. All over the world, people  write content in a variant called Markdig-compliant MarkDown , and so do we.

This is not invented for Dynamics NAV – we are using tooling that our friends in the greater Microsoft have found or developed.  But we love the tooling because we can share it with you, and because our customers end up having a better and more transparent content experience.

Some of you have asked which editors we recommend that you use to write the content in. We don’t really recommend anything because there are so many tools out there. But internally we use Visual Studio Code with a MarkDown extension, while some use Atom.

All of this is Open Source, and there are videos, tutorials, blogs, and Help all over the Internet to help you get started. The team working on Dynamics NAV here at Microsoft have been practicing MarkDown for more than 3 years now, and we’re still learning. But getting started was easy – MarkDown is essentially just text, so you can focus on the content and not worry about the rendering the way that you do in Desktop Publishing, for example. And that means that you don’t have to be a DTP expert or a technical writer in order to contribute.

Generate files for Help Server

For Dynamics NAV 2018, we still make Help Server available for you to deploy as a lightweight website with Help for your customers. We use DocFx to generate HTML files for Help Server and to generate pages for the Docs.microsoft.com site – that’s why you can see .config files and .json files in the nav-content repo.

Next steps

Join us in the world of Dynamics 365 Business Central – for more information, see Migrate Legacy Help to the Dynamics 365 Business Central Format. You can also see the Dynamics 365 Business Central Contributor Guide for more information that also applies to the Dynamics NAV content in GitHub.

 

We're always looking for feedback and would like to hear from you. Please head to the Dynamics 365 Community to start a discussion, ask questions, and tell us what you think!