GNOME Docs Hackfest - Day One - Complete

It was a long day of travel to get to the GNOME docs hackfest in Brno, but I arrived safely on Friday. Knowing that they would be concerned, I sent my family a picture to let them know that I was ok, and that I had indeed made it to the Czech Republic.

sleep beer in prague

This picture was taken in Prague, where we met up with Andre Klapper for lunch. Andre and Florian Nadge gave us a brief tour of Prague on foot, but we still had an almost three hour bus ride to Brno. It was a long day.

After a restful night of sleep, we woke up, got started, and day one of our hackfest is now in the books. Overall it was a very productive day, and I feel like we’re off to a very good start.

We started at about 9:30am, laying out goals and plans for the hackfest. Here are some of the goals that we laid out:

  • Revised GNOME help for version 3.8
  • gedit updates that reflect the switch to gmenu (almost complete now)
  • Merge updated gedit snippets for Mallard. The new snippets incorporate the syntax of the entire Mallard 1.0 draft specification (many thanks to Jaromír Hradílek for his work on this)
  • Assist Sindhu with gnome-terminal documentation
  • Passwords and Keys documentation
  • Updates to the GNOME Help landing page. These updates will be necessary to have a smooth transition between the Getting Started videos and the docs.
  • … other

I have to put "other" because I don’t have the list in front of me, and other hackfest folks aren’t around for the time being to offer their input. There is a lot more that we’re working on, including at least a couple of people primarily focusing on developer documentation. If you are curious about the full plan, I will update this blog post tomorrow morning(-ish) with the additional details, and you can check-back then.

We also discussed one process improvement. We’re going to stop using gitorious.org for draft documentation and just start using branches in the appropriate projects on git.gnome.org instead. Using a branch on git.gnome.org will simplify things for new contributors who ask what there is to work on (the new contributor would only need to learn how to use git.gnome.org, and not also learn gitorious), it will simplify the merging process once docs are ready for merging, and it will also help teach new contributors about managing and merging branches with git.

A couple of things make this a very promising hackfest. We couldn’t have timed the hackfest better, as Gnome 3.7.9 (the beta release for GNOME 3.8) was just released. That means GNOME is in a feature freeze (a good time to work on documentation updates), and the builds are mostly stable. Using jhbuild to get the latest bits has been working quite well. Though there may be a few freeze breaks, we’re certainly in a much better spot than we have been for prior releases. Kudos to the developers for getting us to this point at this point in the release cycle.

I also feel like we have a good focus and the resources to do our work. The task list that we put up on the board seemed like a decent scope of work for a hackfest of this length. To get all of our work done, it helps that the group here is an experienced bunch. We have a good set of docs writers here, and a whole host of GNOME developers present for the developers conference. Having them around will be be very helpful when we need to pester someone with application-specific questions.

I’m sure I’ll have a couple more updates as the hackfest progresses, but this is all for now. Many thanks to Florian Nadge, Petr Kovar and Jana Švárová for being such wonderful hosts, and to the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring my travel.