Write the Docs: James Tauber – Versioned Literate Programming for Tutorials

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.

James started things off after the break talking about a combination of ideas around literate programming and version control. He pitched it as a socratic talk that would pose more questions than answers.

James comes from a background of more than 20 years involvement in Open Source projects. He’s the CEO and founder of Eldarion which builds websites in Python and Django.

In June 2003 James posted to the Python mailing list about how feature structures could be implemented in Python. He worked up an example that somewhat like narrative programming. A method in which you explain to humans what the code is doing while you are writing the code.

Much of the talk went over my head so these notes aren’t the greatest. The gist seems to be that literate programming is not a means of redoing how we do documentation but, rather, a way we rethink programming. Writing the code and describing the code ought to be part of the same process.