First results for Season of Docs 2019 = first results ever

For the past year I’ve been working with colleagues to create and run Google’s Season of Docs program. It’s super exciting that the first results are now out. There are more results to come in the new year, when the long-running projects finish.

Congratulations to the technical writers and open source mentors who’ve successfully completed their standard-length projects and good luck to those who’re working on the long-running projects. Also a big thank you from me, to everyone who’s taken part in this pilot of the program, including those who had to withdraw from the program for various reasons. It’s been a privilege to receive all the feedback from everyone involved and to learn from the experiences of so many people.

Results for Season of Docs 2019

This year’s Season of Docs included a limited number of technical writing projects, as a pilot to measure how well the program would be received. There are 36 successfully completed projects out of the 41 standard-length projects that finished in December 2019. Eight long-running projects are still in progress, scheduled to finish in February 2020.

You can find further stats and details in the results announcement on the Google Open Source Blog and in the list of successful projects on the Season of Docs website.

The goals of Season of Docs are:

  • Bring technical writers and open source projects together to improve open source documentation and thus to contribute to the excellence of open source products.
  • Give technical writers around the world the opportunity to work in open source and to learn about open source processes, tools, products, and code.
  • Help open source projects understand how technical writers work and what technical writers can contribute to the open source projects.
  • Improve the overall experience of contributing to open source, by providing excellent documentation for new contributors.

Season of Docs 2019 participants come from round the world, including all continents except Antarctica.

What are the participants saying about their experiences so far? Here are a few quotations from the blog posts and reports that people have published.

I also started getting invited in the PR reviews of other developers. I am looking forward to more contributions to the project in the coming year.

I’m deeply grateful to my mentor and Airflow developers for their feedback, patience and help while I was breaking through new challenges (I’ve never worked on an open source project before), and for their support of all my ideas! I think a key success factor for any contributor is a responsive, supportive and motivated team, and I was lucky to join such a team for 3 months.

My experience working on this guide was fantastic, and I would urge anyone interested in getting involved with open source to consider documentation as a first step. The Document Foundation’s documentation team in particular has a very well-established process and infrastructure for producing their products, and one of the only things I can think of that would help them is more volunteers.

Unfortunately, most of us who write software, think that documentation means simply translating what the software does in plain English. That is so not true. Documentation is more to do with how to use your cool software and solve real life pain points. Staying in touch with your user needs is of paramount importance, whether it is code that you are writing or the documentation for using the same.

It has been both fun and interesting to learn about the Ensembl REST API implementation as well as to learn about what people who use the REST API need to get started.

A brand new tutorial is now available for GDevelop, and we would like to thank @end3r for writing it as part of Google #SeasonOfDocs!

Thanks a lot to @felicity_brand for supporting the #OSGeoLive project in #SeasonsofDocs 2019. She did a great job and improved our @osgeolive documentation a lot.

Overall, It was one of the best things that happened to me this year. I have been using VLC for as long as I can remember and the fact that I was able to contribute to the organization is an honor.

I like working with the Wikimedia community. I got to interact with some really amazing folks and the overall experience has been wonderful! Even though Season of Docs has officially come to an end, I intend to continue contributing and would welcome interested folks to join us.

At the end of the GSoD program, my Rocket.Chat mentors asked me to review a technical writer job posting they’d created. They said that the contribution I made to Rocket.Chat is invaluable and cannot be underestimated. They were so excited and impressed by this project that they have decided to hire a person who will be in charge of all the qualitative documentation updates. Rocket.Chat team confirmed that this is one of the greatest achievements of all the times in Rocket.Chat thanks to my work.

GSoD not only provided me with an opportunity to learn about open source but also to interact with some of the most wonderful people around the globe working enthusiastically for betterment of society and help create and most importantly maintain a Medical Record System completely free of cost for under-privileged as well as other users.
GSoD not only increased my knowledge about open-source and led me to meet exciting people, it also helped me to further enhance my technical writing and managerial skills…
I would love to continue working for OpenMRS and be an active member of the community.

Google Season of Docs introduced me to open-source community. I realized how open-source projects offer multiple benefits to its users. Open-source systems provide more flexibility, security and transparency to the users as the system is continuously being reviewed and updated…
Writing technical documentation for a system that is implemented at such a wide scale and is a part of a global community made me learn so much about how the technical documentation is done in the real-world at the corporate and professional level.

This community has welcomed me with open arms and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Open Collective has found in me a contributor for life, and I hope to keep contributing for as long as I can.

If you’re interested in getting involved with NumPy or Google Season of Docs, I highly recommend it. If you’re new to open source projects, you might have a bit of a learning curve setting up your workstation, becoming familiar with NumPy’s contribution guidelines, and getting to know the ins and outs of .rst and Sphinx, but it’s so worth it. It’s definitely challenging if you haven’t done it before, but keep going. Once you get those details nailed down, you can start having real fun!

I’M STILL SMILING!

It’s well worth taking a look at all the project reports listed on the Season of Docs website, to see the scope of the projects tackled, the challenges that the technical writers faced, and how they overcame them. Every story is different!

Please do let me know of any posts I’ve missed, or if you’d like to add any experiences of your own. Add a comment on this post so that others can read it too.

Opportunities to contribute to open source

If you’re looking for opportunities to contribute to open source, these opportunities abound.

A note to avoid potential confusion: Contributing to these projects would be outside of the Season of Docs program, unless you’re already officially signed up to take part in the relevant long-running project in Season of Docs 2019, or you’re accepted into a future Season of Docs program in 2020 or beyond.

Some suggestions for finding a project to contribute to:

There are more Season of Docs 2019 results to come

To the technical writers and mentors working on the long-running projects for Season of Docs 2019: Have fun, best of luck with your projects, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the results in February!

To add to the celebratory nature of this post, here’s a picture of a tea tree flower spray which I came across while walking in the Australian bush:

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 17 December 2019, in Google, open source, Season of Docs, technical writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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