Friday 2 December 2022

Meet a Google Tech Writer

Yep, I'm one of the profiled Google tech writers:

Cameron's story

I was surprised to wake one morning and realize I’d become a writer.

My good science and sub-optimal English school marks led me to pursue a software engineering career. (Who needs to write when you’re a good programmer? Right?)

Outside of work, I leaned into my greenie ideals and helped build a bicycle activist movement: Thousands of yahooing cyclists riding through city peak hour traffic, publicity stunts, chats with the police, media interviews... Of course, my software career wasn’t being advanced by these extra-curricular activities.

Over time, my day job gradually moved from engineer to business analysis to sales support, to technical communicator, and oops, … I’d become a technical writer. How did that happen?

Well, it turns out that in knowledge economies, businesses value people who can explain technical concepts clearly, efficiently, and effectively. The activist communication skills I’d learned, merged with my engineering background, were useful after all.

And as an added bonus, I really enjoy the communication challenges, the breadth of work, and the impact I can offer teams. You might, too?

Friday 21 October 2022

Requirement writing

  •  "When [condition] the [device] MUST [do something]."

It's surprising how many ways we can get this pattern wrong. This presentation walks through the requirement-writing-guide used by Google Chromebook engineers, and open sourced into The Good Docs Project. It covers:
  • Business drivers behind requirements management.
  • Writing rules to follow.
  • Broader systemic challenges to be faced.
It draws upon engineering standards and best practices.

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Open Source awards for Good Docs contributors

Congratulations to Google's Open Source Peer Bonus award winners. Winners from The Good Docs Project include:

Felicity Brand

Felicity Brand has been an incredibly impactful contributor within The Good Docs Project.
  • She is one of the project’s founding members, and an active contributor to the Project Steering Committee.
  • She regularly comes up with innovative and practical ideas, usually backed by deep background knowledge.
  • She is regularly supporting others, focusing on key areas that need help. Most recently she has been playing a lead role developing a Content Strategy, Website Architecture, and development of project blogs.
  • When boring but important things need to get done, Felicity is regularly stepping in to help out.
  • And her fun, supportive and encouraging style is contagious. It makes those around her want to help.
In Felicity's words:
“I’m very pleased and proud to receive a Google Open Source Peer Bonus award. I was nominated for my contributions to The Good Docs Project where we are creating technical writing templates to help other projects create high-quality documentation. I’m passionate about the work we’re doing there, and have been hanging around the project since its inception in 2019. This is a friendly, inclusive community creating a safe space for folk to dip their toe into open source. We are global, and new folk are always welcome.”

Bryan Klein

Bryan Klein is a technical wizard when it comes to setting up documentation based infrastructure. He has been setting up or advising on much of the infrastructure behind The Good Docs Project, a project developing templates, processes and tools to help developers write great documentation.
  • He is one of the main drivers behind a “Doc tools easy button”, a bold initiative to build the toolchain a for a docs website based on templates from The Good Docs Project.
  • He is an active contributor to the Project Steering Committee.
  • He is fun, supportive, encouraging, is quick to jump in and help others when they get stuck. He is one of the key people behind our unofficial tech-help channel
In Bryan's words:
“I've been actively working on open source projects since my time at NIST with the FDS project starting in 2006. More recently with The Good Docs Project (TGDP) since 2020. It's been a very rewarding experience to contribute to TGDP, with such an amazing diversity of participants, perspectives and interests involved. To be given recognition through the OSPB program was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. While it's not at all what I am participating in the project for, it feels great to have someone else in the project bring my name up for this award. Thank you to TGDP and to Google for this honor.”

Aaron Peters

Aaron Peters has been bringing his project management expertise to The Good Docs Project.
  • Aaron has been a long term contributor to the project, and is an active member of our Project Steering Committee (PSC).
  • He coordinates our Request of Comment (RFC) update process.
  • He has led the development of our baseline development and release process.
  • And he has been researching and setting up the supporting tool chains.
All his foundational work is setting up our project to achieve quality at scale.

Serena Jolley

Serena Jolley deserves recognition for generously sharing her deep experience as a User Experience (UX) designer with The Good Docs Project.
  • She established a heartbeat in our previously dormant “Chronologue” working group – a group creating a fake project which our documentation templates will create examples for.
  • She’s played a vital role creating well-thought out wireframes for the fake project.
  • She shares her knowledge with her teammates by being transparent and explaining her methodology, and has specifically mentored a junior UX designer along the way.
Without Serena, this working group wouldn’t have achieved its current momentum.

Ian Nguyen

Ian's been working within our Chronologue working group, which is creating a fake project which our documentation templates will create examples for.
  • Ian is the craftsman who has been building the fake product our group wants to document.
  • He has been designing and implementing an API to retrieve data for events.
  • He has turned wireframes into code, and he has been building a tangible web experience for the Chronologue project.
  • Without his creativity and technical aptitude, we would not have a “fake” product to document.

Tina L├╝dtke

Tina was ineligible for the Open Source Peer Bonus, as she was hired by Google as an employee. Instead she was awarded a Google Peer Bonus.
Tina has led our “fake example project” makes excellent contributions to the Content Strategy, Blog, and Book Club groups, and is an active contributor to the Project Steering Committee.
Check her post 6 Resources for Starting Your Journey Into Docs.

Friday 30 September 2022

When to call in us tech writers

Children talking through sonic playground pipes

In a knowledge economy, effectiveness depends upon transferring ideas between people.
Technical writing is the art of optimizing the communication pipes.

Good documentation provides:
Just enough info,
When it is needed,
To support a specific action,
At the quality required.
This presentation highlights the key principles of technical writing, and when to call in us technical writers.

Monday 18 April 2022

Open Source Peer Bonuses for Good Doc Templateers

open source peer bonus logo

 Congratulations to five templatateers from The Good Docs Project for your Open Source Peer Bonus award from Google.  This cool award enables Google employees to recognize and thank a few valued open source contributors. It includes a token financial contribution - enough to take the family out for dinner at a nice restaurant.

Gayathri Krishnaswamy, Chris Ganta and Nelson Guya

Gayathri, Chris and Nelson have been peer-writing open source documentation templates within our EMEA-APAC working group. This includes:

Notably call outs:
  • As well as doing a lot of the research, Gayathri has managed the copying of docs from Google Docs into the github repository.
  • Nelson initially worked out the OSGeo-Live documentation pipeline, and then mentored Chris and Gayathri in getting started.
  • Chris did a lot of the group coordination, and has delivered an excellent presentation on the peer writing strategy that the group developed, laying foundations for how it can be replicated.

Carrie Crowe

Carrie has grown into a key role in within The Good Docs Project:

  • She’s  head of the content strategy team, driving the project contributors to frame their work in terms of understanding our user bases, accounting for where individual elements of our project need to live.
  • Specifically, in the last year she’s helped the project clarify its scope and focus, with the ideals of providing education to developers needing to write docs, templates for different types of docs, systems for deploying docs, and related doc subjects. That’s all thanks to her stepping in as a product manager to organize a big group of volunteers, alongside her technical writing skills used in article and template contributions.
  • In recognition of her work, she's recently accepted a co-chair role of The Good Docs project.

Deanna Thompson

Deanna Thompson is an experienced technical writer who plays an impactful role within The Good Docs Project.

  • She done extensive research and community consultation to build a template for writing tutorials that developers can use.
  • She continually provides insightful feedback to templates others develop, showing leadership and mentorship our team greatly benefits from.
  • She's been playing a lead role in establishing training for using git for tech writers within our project.
  • And in recognition of her work, she has recently accepted a role on the Project Steering Committee.
  • She’s certainly raised the bar on what we hope to get out of contributors!

Curly Beach to Forestway by bicycle

Cycle from Curl Curl beach back to Forestway via bike paths, back streets, and a short stretch of dirt trail.

10 kms. 30 mins.
Enjoy the journey!


Wednesday 26 January 2022

My Open Source Docs addiction


My Open Source Docs Addiction

Why am I addicted to open source docs?

  • "Giving back" adds extra meaning and purpose to my life.
  • It's impactful.
  • I can tackle wild moon-shot ideas.
  • I can choose to do-it-right over short-termism.
  • I am often working on the cutting edge.
  • I can choose morals over profits.
  • I get to collaborate with a community of like-minded souls.
  • It’s a fun, safe and engaging way to learn, and looks great on a resume.
  • The world desperately needs doc heros, and as a tech writer I'm uniquely qualified to help.
  • I've uncovered my alter-ego:
I'm an open source technical writer. What's your super power?

Version 1.0 of this lightning of this talk was presented at an internal tech writers event in January 2022, and a tweaked 2.0 was presented at Write the Docs Australia, December 2022.

Saturday 15 January 2022

Frenchs Forest to Warringah Mall by bicycle

Want a quick, 20 minute, pleasant and safe bicycle route from Frenchs Forest down to Warringah Mall? Try this: 

Cycle from Frenchs Forest down to Warringah Mall via bike paths, back streets, and a short stretch of dirt trail.

Enjoy the journey!