Writing Open Source Day 2

We’re just over halfway done with day 2 of the Writing Open Source conference, and today is an “unconference” day in the style of BarCamp.

Conference attendees are giving talks today inspired by conversations from yesterday, other ideas attendees had, and more.

GNOME’s own fearless documentation leader, Shaun McCance, kicked off day two this morning giving an overview of Project Mallard.

shaun-mallard-talk

(Please note that the picture on the projector is a wood duck, and not a Mallard. You’ll have to ask Shaun for the story. Picture courtesy of Milo Casagrande).

Shaun talked about his design goals for Mallard, the benefits of using it instead of using Docbook, and showed it working in Yelp(!), the GNOME help browser. Shaun also discussed and demonstrated Pulse, and you could tell how much passion he has for documentation and the tools involved.

We also had talks about how we can make docs easier for translators (and I showed off Damned Lies, which is so cool, especially considering how little I know about it), how an organization could create a certification program, creating a book in 5 days or less, and my personal favorite, communities. We talked about how different communities that are represented here at the conference work, how upstream and downstream work, what’s not working, how we could be doing community outreach, and why there is a perception that docs just aren’t cool. (Take it from me, docs are sexy! And there will be more to come on that subject).

One of the coolest things for me at least, so far, is finding these other communities, including Drupal, BSD, XFCE just to name a few that are represented here, and how many commonalities we have. Drupal and GNOME might not have a lot of common in how documentation is used, but we have similar challenges and processes. We are making friendships that will help us to create documentation best practices that span communities and one of our goals is build on the success of this conference and keep in contact and continue to share information with each other, and recruit more to join us.

Tomorrow is our hack day, and that should be a blast as well.

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