Lana Brindley, a member of the Australia OpenStack User Group, has been playing with technology since that summer in the 80’s when she got eaten by a grue. She is currently writing technical documentation for Rackspace after spending six years with Red Hat. Lana holds business degrees in marketing and information systems, and a postgraduate degree in technical communication.
Since learning to drive a turtle in circles as a child, Brian Moss has loved working with computers. Life takes funny turns though, and he spent his university years earning a doctorate in ancient languages. After moving to Australia from Canada in 2010, Brian found a technical writing position at Red Hat that accommodates both his urge to write and his interest in technology.
You might not know it, but Brisbane, Australia, plays host to a whole lot of OpenStack technical writers, so it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to lock them all in a room together for a day and tell them to write a new book.
Over the weekend, the Australia User Group held the first-ever OpenStack doc swarm. What the heck is a swarm, you ask?
That’s a fair question, since we didn’t know ourselves when we set out to run one. Docs sprints are usually week-long events, with a strict (and grueling!) schedule, and a couple of large-stick-wielding captors who make sure you keep writing and are not, you know, checking Facebook constantly.
![alt text here](superuser:figure:ctx9vqxhzddut0v5vgga)
Docs sprints have been used to produce the Operations Guide and the new Architecture Guide. While they certainly produce results, they’re also pretty hard work. It turns out Brian, my co-conspirator and fellow technical writer, and I didn’t really want to work that hard, so we decided to do a casual one-day sprint to try and kick off a new document, without expecting people to give up a week of their lives. We found out later on that this type of single-day event is called a swarm, so that’s the term we ended up using.
We organized the swarm because we’ve known for quite some time that OpenStack really needed a standalone Networking Guide. There’s been talk about it for ages, and a blueprint was created a few months ago. Red Hat and Rackspace (our two corporate swarm sponsors) both have top quality OpenStack networking documentation, and there is a lot of great networking content in the OpenStack Cloud Architecture Guide. We wanted to take all this content and create the beginnings of a new Networking Guide, so that it could be improved upon and (hopefully!) finalised in time for Juno.
We had about ten people attend, most of whom stayed all day, which we were really happy with. It turned out to be a perfect number, too, since everyone could take a chapter to work on during the day, and avoid conflicts in the repo. It also meant we could easily find info and call out across the room to see which chapter it belonged in.
At the end of the day, we accomplished our goal, as we now have a Networking Guide in the docs repo with a solid chapter structure and the bare bones of content. With a little love, care, and attention, and of course a dollop of assistance from the wonderful OpenStack user community, we should hopefully have it ready to release for Juno.
There is a second docs swarm happening on the same book, this time in San Antonio, TX, on 27 August. For more information, keep your eye on the openstack-docs mailing list.