Attending Writing Open Source June 12th to 14th

In a week, I will attend the Writing Open Source conference in Owen Sound, Ontario. I'm excited to meet some of my colleagues in the field of open source documentation, having written the bulk of the support materials for Bryght, the Drupal-powered hosted service. I'm particularly interested in meeting those working to document open source tools other than Drupal, to gain some perspective on what's out there and what's needed. Writing documentation was my first task at Bryght back in 2004. I recall spending part of that Christmas break furiously jotting down the important steps to creating dynamic and community websites. This included checklists, instructions and descriptions of module settings and how people could take advantage of them. The initial push of documentation made the subsequent job of supporting customers easy: instead of each time having to explain how to do something, I quickly pointed to the documentation, either through a link or a copy & paste. Along the way I even heard from non-customers thanking me for the handy references. After the second time someone asked we documented the answer. (We even wrote documentation after the first time someone asked a question.) Sometimes it didn't work, and sometimes the documentation wasn't all that great or hard to find. We allowed comments and opened the forums and listened to feedback when what we wrote didn't make a whole lot of sense. That's the experience I'd like to share with the conference, and I'd like to hear of others' experiences in making complex software more understandable. After the weekend conference, I'll spend a couple of full days in Toronto proper, getting some much needed distance from Vancouver. I'd like to meet with some of the Toronto Drupal heads, and others I know (but haven't met) from other online communities I'm part of. Sadly, my favourite baseball squadron, the Toronto Blue Jays, play on the road in late June. Surely a local pub will have the games in HD? The themes at Writing Open Source have a lot in common with two sessions I attended at FSOSS (the Free and Open Source Symposium) in 2006. I wrote two well-received pieces about the symposium, both notes on sessions at the conference: (Audio and video for both presentations are available at http://fsoss.senecac.on.ca/2006/recordings/) I'm looking forward to the sessions in Owen Sound next week, and to sharing what I learn there!

Comments

I couldn't find the date of this post. Is the conference over? Do post your experience at the conference. I would love to read it. - Mike

I updated the title of this post to reflect the dates, which are June 12th, 13th and 14th, 2009. I'll have a full recap next week!