Using a Wiki for Collaborative Documentation TOSW - Presenter Notes
These are the notes being used for a presentation on Using a Wiki for Collaborative Documentation TOSW.
- dial in to phone num. at 11:45
- Have demos, documents ready to go on machine I'm presenting on
- gwibber and noisy stuff off
- windows minimized save browser and emacs
- Stand-alone browser ready with:
- tosw.org front page
- sandbox page
timeline / outline
- :00 - :03 -- Introductions
- :03 - :05 -- Focus of talk, goals
- :05 - :10 -- Wiki collaboration methodology
- generic & specific
- :10 - :25 -- Demonstration of methodology
- :25 - :35 -- Wrap-up
Focus of talk, goals
This talk presents a collaboration methodology that uses a wiki and a common set of practices grounded in the open source way. The goal of the collaboration is community documentation, which is content created by a community for its own purposes/needs.
For example, I was at OSBridge last week, and each session page has a wiki link. Audiences members are encouraged to use it for taking session notes, and multiple people can edit parts of the notes simultaneously. At certain conferences I've seen a very high degree of session note taking, so the conference is literally documenting itself as it proceeds. I can refer back to a discussion or decision that was reached in one of those sessions, using the realtime log/minutes created by the audience.
In Fedora, we use this for the release notes. In TOS, we use it for a textbook. We use it for TOSW, which we are going to use today.
This content, when ready, gets converted to DocBook XML and configured to be processed by Publican, which is a tool made and used by Red Hat Content Services on all our product documentation. That gives us HTML, PDF, epub, etc. XML is a great format for translation and fits directly in with established l10n practices, such as Transifex.net.
By the end of this talk, you should know:
- How to use a wiki for collaborative documentation.
- How to create a set of interlinked pages, such as a book or guide.
- How to edit MediaWiki pages.
- Why and where you might want to use this methodology.
- Have an invitation to help edit/write The Open Source Way.
Wiki collaboration methodology
We are building on what Wikipedia teaches us. So, we point to their how-to and why information.
- MediaWiki help pages provide syntax information and best practices on page authoring:
- Fedora Project grew up special rules
- to handle our unique situation
- to make it easier to convert wiki pages to DocBook XML so it can be processed by the same tools that build RHEL docs.
- Fedora release notes
- TOS textbook
- Building a book with three chapters
- Create a new page to be the top-level of the book by typing in the URL or making a stub link. The name should be descriptive, natural language, not CamelCase, and not redundant (e.g. adding Fedora to the name of a guide on fedoraproject.org.)
- Edit the new page. Introduce the book, scope, etc., then create a table of contents that are stub-links to the chapters.
- Add it to at least one category immediately. It may have its own self-named category, too.
- Create the second-level nested sections
- Each page is itself the first-level nesting
- Use Review to check for syntax mistakes
- Save at this state because:
- Save often is safer, less work lost
- Once saved, you are more likely to share the URL
- Once saved, it shows up in the wiki recent changes list
- Release early, release often
- The work you save is the work others have to build on
- You may have reason to go suddenly, leave it so others can pick up where you left off.
- Each sub-section can now be edited independently.
- A common trick with wiki pages is to stub out all the sections.
- Gives an outline to work against.
- Makes it easy for others to work on part of the outline.
- Collaborators dive in where they see fit and/or where agreed. For example, a few writers might work on a chapter together, each working on different sections, then cross-editing.
- Using MediaWiki version control you can take a snapshot of a particular moment in a document, then continue editing the latest content. This is how TOS' 'Practical Open Source Software Exploration' worked.
Going to a printable form
- For TOSW, Fedora Project, Teaching Open Source -- we use a tool that lets us automagically convert the wiki pages to XML files. It does about 85% of the structural work to get documents that work with Publican. The content may need some or a lot of inline editing, depending on how much markup occurs in the paragraphs. (More so for more technical content, usually, or for heavy references to user interfaces, etc.)