How to Win Friends and Write Documentation

Tools and Techniques
Location: D139/140
Average rating: ****.
(4.22, 9 ratings)

Whether you’re just rolling out a new project, or you’re maintaining
ten years and three major versions of legacy code, good documentation
is vital for your users. But even when you know it’s necessary, come
on, who wants to actually write docs? Isn’t it just a pain?

Not necessarily! This presentation will show you how writing docs can
be fun, and give you the tools you need to create great docs quickly.
From first drafts to final revisions, it’s all in here – we’ll discuss
techniques for getting started, how to build on what you already have,
and even some ideas for attracting volunteers to help document your

And, getting involved with documentation is a great way to contribute
back to your favourite project. It’s easy to get started, and a great
way to get appreciated! If you know how to use the software to do what
you want, you’re ready to go. The most important thing is being how to
explain what you’re doing – but we’ll also take a look at some of the
commonly-used tools of the trade.

So if your favourite project’s documentation is not quite there yet
(and let’s face it, whose is?!), this talk is for you! From her early
days in Open Source, contributing drive-by translations and docs to
projects she was using, to her work over the last five years with the
Apache httpd project, to her day job as a technical writer at Google,
Noirin’s wealth of experience will help you get going from wherever
you stand!

Photo of Nóirín Plunkett

Nóirín Plunkett

Eucalyptus Systems

Nóirín Plunkett is a jack of all trades, and a master of several. By day, she works for Eucalyptus Systems, as a geek<→English translator, and general force multiplier. She’s passionate about community, communication, and collaboration.

Noirin got her open source start at Apache, helping out with the httpd documentation project. Within a year, she had been recruited to the conference planning team, which she now leads. She was involved in setting up the Community Development project at Apache, and acts as organization admin for Apache projects participating in Google Summer of Code. And, of course, she continues to contribute to ASF projects as diverse as Infrastructure and Incubator, and sits on the boards of both the Apache Software Foundation and the Open Cloud Initiative.

When she’s not online, Noirin’s natural habitat is the dance floor, although she’s also a keen harpist & singer, and a mean cook!

Comments on this page are now closed.


sharon belliveau
08/11/2011 6:38am PDT

good talk. engaging speaker.

Picture of Michael Downey
Michael Downey
07/29/2011 5:12am PDT

So much to cover in 40 minutes, but this speaker did an excellent job. Informative and entertaining.

Mark Deason
07/29/2011 4:38am PDT

good talk, good advice, great introduction ;-)