Google Doc Camp 2013 Wrapup

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Last week three open source projects were invited to Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters for our 4th documentation camp where each organization was tasked with creating a comprehensive book about their project in a mere three days.  OpenMRS, BRL-CAD, and GNOME participated this year and the camp was facilitated by Adam Hyde of Floss Manuals and Allen Gunn of Aspiration.

This year all three projects decided to write books geared towards newcomers to their projects.

The OpenMRS team discusses their book making experience below.
The week was fast-paced and exciting! On Monday, we got to know each others’ projects, nailed down our target audience and desired outcomes, and brainstormed ways in which we might share this new resource after the week was over. By Tuesday mid-morning, we had a table of contents. We chose the sections we were each most excited about to write first. By the end of Tuesday we had our core chapters mostly written and spent Wednesday writing our introductory and supporting material. Thursday we spent the day editing and gearing up for our 6pm deadline to complete the book for it to go to print. The week was a lot of work and a lot of fun, we were all inspired and well fed.
And that is how our book titled “Contributing to OpenMRS: Getting Started as a Developer”came to be. Usually the hardest part of making meaningful contributions to any open source project is getting started. On behalf of the authors and broader OpenMRS community, we hope this book helps significantly lower the hurdles new OpenMRS developers encounter, whether they are new to open source projects, Health IT, OpenMRS, or all three. The book introduces OpenMRS development processes and architecture, walks the reader through setting up a development environment and building a basic module, overviews OpenMRS collaboration tools and where to go for support, and suggests a potential progression of becoming a seasoned developer community member.  
By Jordan Kellerstrass, OpenMRS team

Below the GNOME team members talk a bit about their experience writing their book about GNOME Mallard, a markup language for generating extra helpful, task-oriented software documentation.
Last week, a small troop of five GNOMies from the docs team (Sindhu Sundar, David King, Kat Gerasimova, Michael Hill and Aruna Sankaranarayanan) arrived at Google ready to write a book for our community. We were joined by two enthusiastic documenters, Amanda French and Heidi Waterhouse, who volunteered to help us with our book from the perspective of complete newbies to our project, which was perfect as they are the intended audience for the book. 
Our first day was spent getting to know the other teams, sharing our project with them and pinning down the table of contents. In the evening, Amanda and Heidi started setting up a working environment for using GNOME’s Yelp help viewer. It has been very useful to see how our tools are presented by the Internet at large to potential users. For the most part, the available information is accurate, although some details needed to be clarified. 
On Wednesday, halfway through our second full day of writing, we almost had our first version of the book completed. For Thursday, we refined the existing content and expanded the book where necessary, completing our book by the 6pm deadline to go to print. On Friday we got to see (at least on screen), the fruit of our labour: the Introduction to Mallard book. The printed copies were ready by 8pm Friday night.  
The week of book sprinting was a remarkable collaborative writing experience, and I can’t wait to recommend it to other projects I know. Thanks again to Allen Gunn for inspiring us and to Adam Hyde for getting a book out of us and to the Google Open Source Programs team for Doc Camp. 
By Michael Hill, Aruna Sankaranarayanan, and Kat Gerasimova, GNOME Mallard team

The folks from BRL-CAD talk about their Doc Camp experience below.
BRL-CAD, a computer-aided design open source software project, is ecstatic for having participated in the 2013 Google Doc Camp. BRL-CAD's team of seven individuals came together from four different countries, three continents and one oceanic island to produce a contributor's guide totaling more than 100 pages in length in less than one week. The inspiration, ideas, and productivity experienced throughout the week-long event has invigorated an effort to expand documentation and improve outreach for our project. Google Doc Camp introduced an exciting technique for documenting and sharing information which we are using to help grow our community. 
By Christopher Sean Morrison, BRL-CAD team

Congratulations to the GNOME Mallard team, OpenMRS and BRL-CAD for successfully completing their books. We hope these books will bring many more contributors to their open source communities.

By Stephanie Taylor, Google Open Source Programs