We've been kicking butt with the doc challenges so far this year. Lots of work is getting done to clean up our handbooks. I really want to thank everyone who is chipping in, even if only for five minutes. Every little bit that we do makes it just that much better for everyone. This month's challenge will be an extension of a particular piece of March's style guide challenge; marking pages with correct vocabulary terms. One of the goals for the future of the documentation in the Drupal.org redesign is to use vocabulary terms to help people find what they need, rather than the only way to find something being to know the magic path through the book structure. To that end, we need to actually tag the pages.
In my post last week I mentioned that we had a professional cat herder, Cindy McCourt, for the Toronto Drupal documentation sprint and that the entire approach was a bit new and different for us. It was certainly different than anything I'd done before, especially in the Open Source or Drupal world. I should start by noting that all of this grew from community efforts by a number of people and isn't any kind of brainchild of mine. This sprint was an awesome showing of how Drupal contributors can do amazing things.
Doing documentation in open source is often hard, doing it well is even harder. All projects have to struggle with this in some way and, in true open source community spirit, why don't we get together and help each other? I'm excited to spread the word that the open source world is going to get its very own documentation conference. I've been in on a new conference/unconference/sprint being planned for this June up in the great province of Ontario, Canada, called Writing Open Source. The idea was born last fall between a few conversations that Emma Jane Hogbin had with myself and Belinda Lopez. Emma was all crazy-talking about a whole conference just focusing on documentation and I couldn't resist such an awesome idea. Then the talking turned into planning, we got a space (in a library, no less!), some totally awesomely delicious catering, a domain name and now registration is open!
As much as my cohort and friend walkah takes digs at sprints ;-), I myself am a huge fan, caught up in the giddy wave of "getting shit done" while hanging around with a bunch of geeks eating Pringles and ice cream. With the Knight Foundation awarding me money to make it happen in the name of all documentation goodness, I am getting ready to rumble.
I know I'm a bit late on the monthly challenge this time around, but between the Usability sprint and Drupalcon I've been a bit too hectic to get a post written up. So this will be a short month, but hopefully we can rock it anyway. This month the focus will be on spiffing up our handbook by reviewing what we have and applying the style guide to it. Much like how the coding standards make working with Drupal code a lot nicer (especially for newbies), having consistency and clarity in our handbooks will make it easier for people to understand the firehose of information on any given page. I found that the best way for me to learn Drupal coding standards was to review existing code and help fix it. This month's task should not only help us clean up the docs a bit, but also get more people familiar with the fact that we even have guidelines as well as tucking some things into the back of their minds for next time they write or edit.
At the Drupalcon DC keynote I was in for a bit of a shock. After Dries had delivered the State of Drupal and its general rockingness, Jose Zamora from the Knight Foundation took the stage. He started talking about the Drupal proposals that were submitted last year to the Knight Drupal Initiative (KDI), one of which was mine, for doing Drupal documentation sprints. I had been informed that the board meeting necessary for the decision about which proposals would win funding wouldn't happen until next week so I figured he would just talk about it to spread the word about Knight. Well, turns out he had a surprise: he had confirmed the winners and I was one of them. The Knight Foundation has awarded me $50,500 to make Drupal docs kick ass this year.
For a quick summary, the money will be spent to cover three basic things:
A grand tradition of Drupalcons is to end with a day of sprinting. Sprints are most often associated with a bunch of hackers chewing on code. Well, our community is more than code or coders. We are a rich community both in people and in the broader work we do to keep Drupal-land humming smoothly along. At this Drupalcon, like the last two, we'll be having an all-day documentation sprint on the last day, March 7. This year we will be a bit more organized and we have a whole room set aside just for us. And just who is "us?" This year a big goal of mine is to really get the word out that everyone can help with docs. We need people from all skill sets, backgrounds and languages; newbie to code ninja. Documentation work is not just about writing. Even taking one hour to hop in to help will push Drupal forward in leaps and bounds.