Purpose of the README file

December 23, 2021

Most of the projects have a README file, and sometimes this file is generated by a project generation tool. So why this file is included in most of the project and why should you maintain it.

Why this file is important? The README file is often next to some source code and his format can vary: Markdown, reStructuredText, plain text…

The content you can expect to see in a README file:

  • A breif presentation of the project, what is it, who is maintaining it, and how to contribute. So someone can see, if they want to explore the project a little bit more.
  • It is not a manual, it needs to stay short enough to give an overview. Some other documents, in the project can serve as manual.
  • It must include the copyright licenses uses on the project.
  • It may include the dependencies of the project, how to install it.
  • In short, the README file is the elevator pitch of the project source code.