This week has been amazing! I'm not sure what I expected when I applied for the GSoC Doc Sprint, or when I became part of Karan's team, whichproposed creating a guide for new KDE developers. I know I did NOT expect to have a book in print within the week! However, our wonderful hosts and guides from Google, FlossManuals, and Aspiration http://www.aspirationtech.org/ guided all of us so well, that WE DID IT! Not only the KDE team, but also the people from OpenMRS, OpenStreetMap and Sahana also created and published books! Four books in one week, from 29 people. I still can't believe it. Rohan, Supreet, and Karan (Rohan Garg, Supreet Pal Singh, Karan Pratap Singh) - you are the best!
Publication isn't the end of the process though. In fact, the opposite. Because of the way FlossManuals is set up, the books are in a "rolling release" unless they are deliberately frozen. So interested folks can edit and add over time, or even clone books or chapters to "fork", if needed.
Also, one of the teams was describing how they created a book before, with a co-located coding and documentation sprint. Doesn't that sound like a great idea, KDE teams? As they told it, as the doc team struggled with difficulties, and consulted with the coding team, often the code was made better, cleaner, simpler -- which make the documentation more straightforward as well. It sounds like a great idea; to make the new documentation match exactly the new code, released together at the same time. Sounds like a best practice to me! We did something like this at the Amarok sprint at Randa last summer, and it worked out very well. Since we had Myriam there hunting down bugs too, which was triply effective.
Not every team will want a book, of course. Books aren't always a practical documentation form-factor, although FlossManuals points the way to the future, I think. The books don't have to be printed, but can also be made available as HTML, PDF, or ePub files. Also, the files can be given away or sold, as the project chooses, and the projects set the price on the printed books as well. Since we have make the e.V. the owner of the book, they could even decide to set a higher price for awhile, as a fundraiser, or buy them cheaply in bulk to send to the GSoC students, or make available at KDE booths at FOSS events.
Our book, Beginning KDE Development, was created with the GSoC students in mind, to help them get up and running KDE trunk, if necessary, as quickly as possible. Along with the technical helps, we've also discussed the KDE community, where to get help, and how to communicate -- all in one short book. I hope you will visit http://booki.flossmanuals.net/kde-guide/, create an account, and help us make it better! We have to have it in excellent shape in time for the next group of GSoC students 2012.
Adam Oram has written an interesting series of blog posts about the event, with some pictures. Check out the series here: https://bitly.com/bundles/praxagora/4. Thank you O'Reilly for sending Adam to help us, and chronicle the event! And most important, thank you Google for selecting our team for sponsorship. You've done KDE a great service.