Write the Docs: Virtual book sprint

I’m at Write the Docs today in Portland and will be post­ing notes from ses­sions through­out the day. These are all posted right after a talk fin­ishes so they’re rough around the edges.

Bart talked about virtual book sprint. This stemmed from the X windows system which is one of the oldest window systems out there but has a very small developer base. About two years ago Bart decided to address this problem. He based it on Google Summer of Code sprints. Unfortunately getting people together in a distributed project with a small contributor pool is difficult.

They used Gobby to write docs up in Markdown. About 2 people put together 40 pages of developer documentation.

They learned a few lessons in this project:

  • Have enough people: People must be committed for the entire time. “Local pairs” would be a thing to try.
  • Have tools solidly in place and tested.
  • Nothing will happen after the sprint. Nothing.

Editing and writing are only part of the work. The tools and processes are also vitally important to the project’s success.