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Why Documentation matters (even when it shouldn't)

October 26 2:30 PM-3:15 PM

Watch the session video here.

Documenting the work that has been done is often overlooked & under-prioritized.  Which is a shame, since it can provide benefits long after the engineering process has moved on. More a ringmaster than a sideshow, documentation can show off amazing code & beautiful UI in ways few other efforts beat. Writing the docs is seen as unnecessary or a waste of time.  This session will provide a litany of reasons to push back on leaving out documentation from delivering a feature.   

After this session you should be looking at documentation as a valuable outreach tool & powerful indicator of the breadth of community involvement.  Creating documentation is a whole brain activity and one that everyone in a team can participate together. Proper documentation has an outsized impact on on-boarding new developers and training the larger team on the ins-and-outs of the project.

In this talk I'll discuss:

  • Why documentation is hard for people & projects
  • How documentation speaks to the overall care & vision of a project
  • How to make a convincing argument to add/keep/expand project time spent in documentation
    • Hint: It's not just about the bus plan
  • How to make documentation fun (you heard that right)
  • What makes documentation good (or bad)
    • How to improve documentation

More than just another deliverable, documentation is the way to preserve the rationale, to get to the why behind a piece of code.  Like funnel cake - making it can be a big mess, but the results are as sweet as they are beautiful.

At the end of this talk you should (in no particular order):

  1. Know how easy it can be to write docs
  2. Be excited to write documentation for your own projects
  3. Recognize some of the pitfalls & antipatterns of less-than-stellar documentation
  4. Contribute documentation to your favorite community project as a service to your future self & others
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