Documentation and Open Source with Anne Gentle
Play • 28 min

There is a perception in the tech world that developer documentation is boring, and it can be a major challenge to get people to contribute to open source docs. Luckily, today’s guest, lifelong learner Anne Gentle, is always up for a challenge. Anne’s open source journey began by volunteering for organizations such as One Laptop per Child, and getting involved with book sprints. This was a way for her to learn about innovative techniques being used in open source which she was missing in her job as an everyday technical writer. The value she gained from entering the world of open source documentation, and the value she could see it provided to organizations, inspired Anne to write a book; Docs Like Code. In today’s episode, Anne shares some of the principles she covers in her book, explains the parallels that exist between documentation and software development, dives into some industry changes which have transformed documentation over the past few years, and offers valuable advice for anyone interested in getting involved in open source.


Key Points From This Episode:

  • Anne explains where open source and documentation intersect.
  • Why Anne chose to get involved with open source volunteering.
  • A variety of other reasons that lead people into the world of open source volunteering.
  • Growth in the number of open source writers over the years.
  • Using GitHub as an example, Anne explains the value of open source to organizations. 
  • Why DOCSIS code techniques pair well with open source.
  • The motivation behind Anne’s book, Docs Like Code. 
  • Industry changes which influenced the documentation changes. 
  • Parallels between software development and documentation.
  • Advice from Anne regarding putting systems in place for writers.
  • How the CICD has been helpful for documentation.
  • The factor that is vital to successful documentation.
  • What Anne wished she knew more of before entering the open source world.
  • Anne’s biggest surprise when she started working in open source.
  • How the open source ethos is applicable to Anne’s current role. 
  • Valuable advice from Anne for anyone interested in open source.
  • Google's Season of Docs program, and the impacts that Anne expects it to have.


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Anne Gentle on LinkedIn

Anne Gentle on Twitter

Anne Gentle on GitHub

Docs Like Code Website

Cisco DevNet

Write the Docs

A guide to getting started in open source

Season of Docs program

Just Write Click

Outreachy Internships

One Laptop per Child

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