Fueling innovative software
July 15-18, 2019
Portland, OR

Writing tutorial: Using blogging and great documentation to grow your open source project

9:00am12:30pm Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Open Source
Location: D138-140
Secondary topics:  Open Source
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 2 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Programmers, open source maintainers, and anyone interested in technical writing




Writing blog posts and strong documentation for your open source projects is crucial for growing both a user and a contributor base. Your writing is the most effective way to communicate why and how people should use your project. But you’re a software engineer, not a content strategist. You may not know how you can effectively target the people you need to with your blog posts and documentation or how to accurately communicate the goals for your project.

Here’s your chance to improve your skills as you walk through the writing process with Alison Spittel. You’ll cover everything from deciding who you’re writing for to what happens after you press publish (or commit to GitHub). Then you’ll take a look at some projects that have great content strategies and discover how to understand who your target audience is—whether that’s new developers or specialized experts. Along the way, Alison will help you come up with blog post topics, explain how to make that content engaging and understandable, and show you how to reach that audience and grow a following.

You’ll leave with the following completed worksheets:

  • A worksheet about your target audience and how to reach them
  • A list of possible blog post topics
  • An outline of the types of documentation needed for your project
  • An outline of a blog post

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A basic understanding of written communication and grammar (useful but not required)

Materials or downloads needed in advance

  • Something to write with
  • A laptop (useful but not required)

What you'll learn

  • Find a consistent voice in order to engage a specific audience
  • Learn strategies for coming up with a blog post topic and why you should blog and create strong documentation
  • Hear tips for creating engaging and understandable content and how to start building and growing a community of readers who will become contributors
Photo of Alison Spittel

Alison Spittel


Ali Spittel is a programmer, teacher, writer, and a software engineer at DEV. You can read her writing, which had well over half a million readers last year, at dev.to/aspittel. She moonlights as a lead instructor at General Assembly. In addition to contributing to the open source DEV platform, Ali also maintains Learn Code from Us, a platform that highlights technical content creators who are members of underrepresented groups in tech. She’s also highly involved in the DC tech community, where she’s the tech director for Women Who Code, and she’s the founder of the Art + Code Collective and the Vue Vixens’ DC chapter.