In the past few weeks I have been building myself up to get back on track with my role as Doc Lead in the Drupal community. I've been off radar for quite a while now (since last fall) and I'm finally getting my feet under me to tackle the work of docs again. In the time that I was out of it though, it was too obvious that there needed to be some changes in how I (and the Drupal community) approach this whole documentation team thing. There were a few other people out there who had expressed the same concerns to me and so I sat down with them to kick around what we need to change. We came up with two fundamental shifts in how we do things as a team: communication and coordination. I think this will take a lot of pressure off of a number of people, myself included, as well as let the community take even more ownership of documentation and play a role in the steering of the ship, even if the captain sometimes goes AWOL.
It has been a while since I've been on radar, but with Drupal 7 fast approaching and Drupal living in the White House, we need to keep focus on one the keys to Drupal domination: documentation. Here is a little status update on where the Drupal docs world is these days and what's coming up next. (As an aside, I've been distracted from Drupal for a little while due to other things going on in my life, but hope to jump back into the fray by the end of the year.)
The top priority in the Drupal documentation roadmap that was published earlier this summer was to reorganize the information architecture (IA) of the handbooks to make them easier to use and maintain. Becca Scollan volunteered to take the lead and she has been researching and building out a plan of attack. We are now at a good stage to start doing some work that the whole community can engage in. Instead of trying to tackle the whole thing, our first foray will be limited to the Theming Guide handbook only. We are going to begin looking at and tagging our existing content with an eye towards a new way of thinking about it. We have added some new vocabularies to just the pages in the theming handbook and we need folks to go through and assign terms. Instead of just random tagging, we need to keep some overall concepts in mind. There are guidelines that can be referred to, so that the terms we use will be most useful for the following steps in the process.
Drupal 7 is coming and it has a ton of UI changes with the D7UX lovefest that has been going on, in addition to a some very different APIs. This time around it'd be extra nice if we had up-to-date documentation when our beloved Drupal 7 hits the streets. Few want to write it, but many sure bitch when it isn't there. ;-) Drupal 6 was a little, um, lacking out of the gate, and it took us quite a while to get even the basics filled out. We'd like to avoid a repeat of that situation. To that end we have started to organize ourselves to make sure to cover all aspects of Drupal 7 from end user to API. We had the first D7 docs meeting on July 10 and another on July 31. We'll have two more, during August, before code freeze and Drupalcon Paris in September. The plan is to start on work we can tackle now, while in thaw, and plan out what we need to do as soon as freeze hits. We'll have two doc sprint days in Paris and we'd like to take full advantage of them for Drupal 7 by having a game plan already set up.
I've been on the go so much that I haven't had the mental space to sit down and articulate a lot of the cool stuff that is going on. A few weeks ago I took part in a new open source conference, Writing Open Source (WOScon). The conference was born from conversations Emma Jane Hogbin and I had last fall, and she took the ideas and made it a reality in Owen Sound, Ontario. It was very small but packed with awesomeness, from people to ideas to food.
A few weeks ago I posted a draft Drupal documentation roadmap on Drupal.org. In that post I attached the full roadmap of goals, but focused on the first two we are tackling: a new information architecture (IA) and recognition/reward for documentation contributors. We had a meeting in IRC shortly after and we discussed a number of questions and ideas.
I know that we have done the issue queue work as a challenge already, the very first one in January as a matter of fact. We got a lot accomplished in January, so let's do a spring cleanup. The reason I want to come back to the issue queue is two-fold. First, it still needs lots of love, as always, and second, I plan to finally post a beginning docs roadmap, and get some working groups kick-started around some of our big issues this month. We will be creating a lot of new issues in the docs issue queue, so I'd love for us to tidy up our work area before heading in to some ambitious new projects.
While I was at Drupalcamp Galway, Stéphane (scor) recorded an interview with me about not just the Galway doc sprint, but also about future doc sprints around the world. He's got the interview up on his blog and it's only 6 minutes long. Give it a listen and let me know about your Drupal event and how I can help you out.
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.