I’m at Write the Docs today in Budapest 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.
Mikey’s talk took the concepts of agile software development and focused on how they can apply to writing. She works at Red Hat and lives in the Czech Republic. In a previous role she was a scrum master in an agile environment.
Mikey started her talk with a brief background or history of agile development. Traditionally software development relied upon a waterfall process. While this process worked well for physical factory production it didn’t work as well for digital software. All of a sudden we didn’t have time any more. The delivery time for software had to be faster and faster; users are impatient. The shift was toward more incremental, iterative development. This led to agile. Agile goes through the design, code, test, ship process multiple times rather than in one monolithic cycle. The key is to be flexible and adapt to whatever environment you work within. There are 4 key principles to agile development:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. While there is value in processes and tools the people you work with come first.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation. Docs are still okay, though, you just want to ensure they’re granular and not monolithic.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. As a writer you want to hear what the customer has to say and make docs a first class citizen in the software.
- Responding to change over following a plan. The key is to stay aware of what’s coming down the line and shipping every day in the code.
The flexibility in this is how agile relates to writing docs. As a writer you’re thrown in to an environment that you must adapt to. Staying ahead of the code helps ensure your docs never get swamped by current releases.