Documentation Project - comments wanted

Karsten Fischer kfischer at
Wed Sep 29 09:26:49 UTC 2004

I seriously think that the quality of user-specific documentation is a 
key feature for the success of any Operating System.

Proposal: UBUNTU Documentation Project (UDP)

First Draft, September 2004


The Ubuntu Documentation Project aims at what is considered one major 
flaw in the present Ubuntu Linux-Distribution: the Documentation.
While there actually is plenty of technical Documentation available, 
there is little to none user-specific documentation available. The goal 
of the UDP is:

1.	To provide a unified, user-centric documentation for Ubuntu Linux, 
later for all Debian-based distributions
2.	To provide an introduction to Ubuntu Linux and provide some special 
notes to switchers from Windows/MacOS
3.	Create some easily understandable guides for the most common tasks 
like “Ubuntu Overview”,“Connecting to the Internet”, “Printing, Faxing, 
Scanning”, “Setting up a local Network”

A Two-Layered Approach

To reach the goal of a user-centric documentation I propose the 
following architecture:

1.	Creation of the UDP’s core team. The core team should be no more 
than three to five members, each a native speaker of one of the main 
languages like English, Spanish, German, French, Russian or Chinese 
(this needs to be discussed, I guess). Main language for the UDP will 
be English. I strongly recommend having non-developers with some 
writing experience, i.e. journalists or authors, as core members.
2.	The principal Documentation Layout will be specified, as well as 
which Tools and Templates for creating and browsing documentation will 
be used and supported. This will be examined and decided by said core 
team, in strong cooperation with the Ubuntu development team.
3.	The Core Team will thereafter create an initial draft for the guides 
mentioned above and a priority list for the Ubuntu documentation.
4.	The UDP will then be driven largely by volunteers in their 
languages, coordinated and supervised by said core team. The core team 
will be responsible for releasing the documentation packages and 
providing updates, addendums and errata’s for existing documentation.

The process of creating any kind of documentation will be separated 
from the development process. The developer will not be the one 
responsible for the documentation of the software. The documenter will 
write this. Of course there will be a lot of communication between 
documenter and developer, preferably early during development, so the 
documenter can describe the features of the software being developed 

By using this methods the UDP should be able to create and maintain a 
complete set of documentation, which will be in itself consistent for 
all supported languages and furthermore is using the same phrasing and 
technical terms throughout one language-set, providing an easy and 
complete Guide for using Ubuntu Linux and later on any Debian-based 
Linux distribution.

	Task							Duration
	Creation of the UDP’s Core Team				2-4 Weeks
	Specification of Doc. Layout, Tools etc		2 Weeks
	Initial Draft for the Guides									1-2 Weeks
	Priority List																		2-3 Weeks
	Release of the Guides (core team languages)		1 Month
	Release of the Ubuntu Documentation						1 Month-??
	(core team languages)				
	Release of Debian Documentation 									2-6 Months

(Pretty optimistic, isn’t it?)


Perhaps it might be a good idea to provide some kind of funding for 
UDP’s core team so that they can work on this full-time, at least until 
the initial release has been completed. Since the final goal of the UDP 
is “to provide a unified, user-centric documentation for Ubuntu Linux, 
later for all Debian-based distributions” we could try to set up a 
UDP-Fund to cover the necessary expenses so that any number of sponsors 
and donators might be able to contribute to the UDP.

© 2004 Karsten Fischer

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