West Coast Docs Hackfest - 2019

This past week I joined several other members of the GNOME docs team (as well as the Engagement and GTK teams) to work as part of the West Coast Hackfest in Portland, Oregon. From the GNOME Docs side, our efforts were split between resolving documentation issue reports, improving our CI, and making some initial steps towards better help on the web.

On the issues side, we resolved over 20 doc issues, many of which involved multiple components and discussions to arrive at the best way to fix the problem. For myself, I revamped the instructions on how to search from within the GNOME Files / Nautilus application, which mainly involved updating the current help and adding information on how you can customize which directories are included (or not included) in the search results. As part of this, I also filed a bug to improve a UI component of the search customization. I was able to give a bit of love to gedit docs, as well, though there is still more to do to bring those docs fully up-to-date.

For CI, Dave King integrated some yelp-check validation tests into our CI process. Because these tests run quickly, we moved them close to the start of the CI process so that the tests will fail early-on if there are syntax issues in the documentation.

A good chunk of our efforts on the latter days were spent on an update to help.gnome.org, which we're initially targeting for the 3.36 release. The update involves a transition from 'Library Web' to 'Pintail' as our site building tool. This will allow for easier site maintenance by a broader group of contributors, which will make everyone in the whole world very happy. There's a good chunk of back-end tooling that needs to be in place before we stand anything up, so we don't have any user-facing drafts for people to see, but it was well-worth our time to start on this with so many of us in the room.

Although we'd like to do more with transitioning from Mallard XML to Ducktype, our primary focus over the next releases is going to be on making sure documentation stays up-to-date and that we improve the web help situation. Getting the latter component in place is critical to making our documentation easier to maintain in the future.

As a side note, I'm fortunate that my employer fully funded my attendance at the hackfest, and is supportive of my contributions to GNOME.