[SeasonOfDocs] QGIS writing tasks need help

Harrissou delazj at gmail.com
Tue Apr 23 06:43:41 PDT 2019

Hi Cameron and all,

I did not actively follow the discussion nor fully understand how the GSOD program will be organized, what actually can a senior technical writer provide as expertise but I'm already glad to see the interest of the wider OSGeo community in improving and learning from QGIS doc. It's nice to read comments from others than the Core QGIS writers or issue reporters. I don't know whether what I will raise below can be handled by the program and did not take the time to structure my thoughts (sorry) but I'd like to share things we do or want to do, and hear from other projects how they do.

Cameron, I share the points you compiled below, and thanks to all of you for your contributions.
I'd simply have expected that the step by step chapter is now accessible to beginners. We made an in-depth review few months ago, with (I may be wrong) the help of a writer and a "beginner". But still if you don't have enough potential contributors to test the process and tell you where they struggle to step in, it's hard for advanced contributors to find the right level to lower the barrier. That doesn't mean that what we did is perfect; if there's a way to improve and someone can help, it's more than welcome. Nick, for reference, last year Alexandre Neto made a video for first contribution to docs [0]; we should have added to the guidelines but forgot. It may need some cleanup but could maybe help you in your plan.

We, at QGIS, but I guess it's the same for all our projects, are lacking writers. Even call for paid writers failed in the past. I don't know whether a senior writer can help us understand why and find how to fix it but, it could be nice...

I've been contributing to QGIS doc for years and one thing I miss is a cap, a direction. What are the priorities? So I just adress "what I want, when I can". Or when I catch some requests on the mailing lists. Might not be different for others, I think. Until recently, we had a contributor asking what she should first focus on and no clear answer arose so yes, if someone can help us to get a strategy of writing, I'd be glad. And also define schedules, plan when releases should be better done. We do it greatly IMHO with the application, it could be nice to have the same for docs release. Experience from other projects may help here.

One of the strengths of QGIS Docs is the tightness we are building with the devs. For example, most of the dialogs (should) have a help button that opens online the feature page in the corresponding language of the user manual if available. In the future, the docs would be available locally. 
Also, Most of our 400 issue reports are automatically generated by commits in QGIS code so we directly have what we should write about in the doc repo. But this becomes a weakness when:
- there's not enough people to write (increasing number of issues), 
- there's no cleanup for duplicate issues (because of backports) or unrelated issues (eg API matters) --- we try to fix these ones
- or the commit message is not clear enough for writers (who may not have the same technical knowledge as the developer). If we can get some clues on how to make devs write more detailed description in noob language, big +1

I think that triaging the issue tracker and setting priorities and deadlines may greatly help in telling where a senior writer can help (in writing, I mean). I'm not sure any of us (at least me, I do not) have the actual big picture of the issue reports and can categorize them. We already have the necessary tags but now we need to use them. So this would be my task 1.

As Richard or Matteo mentioned, we are also reviewing the global formatting/rendering of the docs. Whether we move to readthedocs. In the meantime, we think it could be nice to improve the rendering of the Processing algorithms docs [1], looking for something more compact and easy to read. An initial work is done [2] and if we can get more help to finish the prototype and apply it could be nice.

Another issue we can have is that most of us are not English native speakers. So a review of the docs from an English speaker is more than desired. But I'm not sure if for this, we necessarily need the person to be a senior writer.

The training materials (dataset and instructions) are also an important item. We are still working on updating to QGIS 3 and I'm happy if there's a demand (/an offer?) to structure and join efforts on this area. But to be honest, I'm more interested in translatable docs (because I'm not in an English working environment and "my" community wouldn't reuse it otherwise) than building an English only infrastructure. So it could be nice if we keep the translatability (?) in mind. Maybe, another topic.

Sorry for the lengthy message. I hope there are information that clarify what we do, that you can pick and improve our submission. But whatever the result for GSOD, I think there are a lot of ideas in this thread we should try to implement in the long run.

[0] https://github.com/qgis/QGIS/wiki/20th-Developer-Meeting-in-Madeira,-February-2018#making-your-first-pull-request-to-qgis-documentation
[1] eg https://docs.qgis.org/3.4/en/docs/user_manual/processing_algs/qgis/vectorgeometry.html
[2] https://github.com/qgis/QGIS-Documentation/pull/2770

PS: Since people were asking, the best way to contact the QGIS Doc team is to use the dedicated list qgis-community-team at lists.osgeo.org as mentioned at https://www.qgis.org/en/site/getinvolved/mailinglists.html#qgis-community-team

Harrissou Sant-anna

Le 22 avril 2019 15:03:35 GMT+02:00, Cameron Shorter <cameron.shorter at gmail.com> a écrit :
>I've updated the QGIS Season of Docs ideas, based on ideas on this list
>far. Thanks for your ideas, especially thanks to Andrew for writing it
>so clearly.
>QGIS, a desktop GIS application, is one of the OSGeo Foundation’s
>projects with a broad developer and documentation community. QGIS core
>documentation is comprehensive and there is a diverse ecosystem of
>organisations and people who have created QGIS workshops and training
>courses. However, it is challenging for documenters to keep up with
>rapid innovation, to sustainably keep the breadth of documentation
>consistent, and targetted.
>Season of Docs ideas for QGIS include the following:
>   - Get assistance from writers to create a simple, and clear
> "quickstart". WHY? Because 11 of the 26 threads started in 2019 on the
>Australian user group are related to getting started, loading and
>data. People indicate that they have referred to the documentation but
>   still lost.
>   - Review the structure of current documentation and provide clear
>separation of tasks. WHY? Because there is a "Getting started" section
>  the user manual and also a separate documentation section on "Getting
>started with GIS" - Which route does a new user take? And is the best
>for Getting started material to be nested in other material? A writer
>   assist with by defining the best practice structure.
>  - Writers to review the language and readability of the QGIS "Step by
>   Step contribution" (This is documentation for making documentation
>   contributions). -
> WHY? This guide walks a user through making a contirbution to the QGIS
>documentation. I don't believe the method for maintaining documentation
>will change, so let's reduce the contributor’s barrier to entry by
>   this section so accurate and clear that anyone can pick it up.
>   - Triage and then manage QGIS documentation issue tracker. Audit the
>status of QGIS documentation. Publicly share status, strategy, and
>which will help volunteers know how to engage, and what impact they can
>   provide.
>- There are a number of geospatial training courses which cover a range
>of topics. Merging all these courses into a central source is not
>or desirable. However, there would be value in consolidating the
>   and QGIS basics into a central base. This will be challenging, but
>valuable, and would require both excellent writing and coordination
>Some of the content authors are already committed to sharing and
>such an initiative. Others will likely come on board once momentum
>   - QGIS Documentation <https://www.qgis.org/en/docs/index.html>
>   - QGIS Documentation Issues
>   <https://github.com/qgis/QGIS-Documentation/issues>
>   - University-level lectures and labs, created by GeoAcademy
>  <http://spatialquerylab.com/foss4g-academy-curriculum/> (based on the
>   older QGIS 2.18)
>   - Environmental QGIS training and videos
><https://www.gaiaresources.com.au/qgis-vids/> from Gaia Resources
>   on the older QGIS 2.18)
>On Sun, 21 Apr 2019 at 08:22, Cameron Shorter
><cameron.shorter at gmail.com>
>> Hi folks,
>> I'm struggling to compile QGIS writing tasks for SeasonOfDocs which
>are as
>> compelling as Jo and Maria have put together for GeoNetwork:
>> https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Season_of_Docs_Ideas_2019#GeoNetwork
>> I'm hoping that those of you who have used QGIS docs can list
>> and then be fully transparent about its weaknesses. If we don't have
>> of a problem, something requiring senior technical writer expertise,
>> why would Google want to help us? There will be plenty of worthy
>> for Google to select from.
>> We have 3 days (till 23 April) to respond. Could you please help by
>> brainstorming ideas in this email thread. I'll commit to compiling
>> into https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Season_of_Docs_Ideas_2019#QGIS .
>> (Although feel free to update it yourself.)
>> Ideas I'm considering based on the conversations so far:
>> * There appears to be a high technical barrier to entry which makes
>> hard for new users to engage with improving QGIS docs. Is this so?
>> writing tasks could we put in place to address this?
>> * OSGeoLive has successfully attracted authors from ~ 50 projects to
>> Quickstarts and Project Overviews based on clear templates and
>> guides. Would a template/writing guide be useful for QGIS? For what
>> types? Workshops? Tutorials? (I'm suspecting these to be in the sweet
>> for us, as they could be rolled out through OSGeoLive to other
>> * "*Training materials are generally tailored to a customer, their
>> technical use case, using sample maps from the customer's location in
>> world. This makes it difficult to develop consolidated material that
>> for everyone". *However*, "there's a really big need for standard
>> training materials- and also if possible the kind of training
>> that could be used for schools, to try to break the monopoly that
>> proprietary companies have on that area."* How can we define this
>> more clearly?
>> * The GeoNetwork team have provided an honest statement about the
>> and completeness of their documentation. Does QGIS documentation have
>> similar limitations? (My initial skim over docs suggest that the
>> might be better, but I could be wrong.)
>> * QGIS has had a major feature update from 2.18 to 3.4.x. I suspect
>> should talk about this? What documentation still needs to be updated
>> improved as a consequence?
>> * With a rapidly innovating product like QGIS, with large
>> base, we could be running into challenges around maintenance and
>> sustainability. Do you consider this a problem? If so, can you
>> examples we can reference? Do you have suggestions on writing tasks
>> address this?
>> * Matteo mentions an issue tracker with over 400 writing tasks in it.
>> do we resource the management of these issues? We likely won't be
>> a *senior* writer to action such a list (Google's target for this
>> initiative), but we might get a junior writer. This might not be
>> until future Google writing initiatives, based on our identified need
>> such a role.
>> * I'm aware that there are multiple QGIS training courses on the web,
>> which are free and open. Could you identify those that a tech writer
>> consider. You can list in the "Resources:" list in
>> https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Season_of_Docs_Ideas_2019#QGIS . I notice
>> that much of the training on the web is still based on version 2.18.
>> we suggest effort be dedicated to updating them to 3.4?
>> ----
>> Please respond to this email with your ideas. I'll really appreciate
>> help.
>> What follows are the emails and ideas I've based the above thoughts
>> Warm regards, Cameron
>> ----
>> Matteo's suggestions:
>>    - Pyqgis cookbook code snipped are now automatically tested,
>>    that every new contribution will be rock solid and code snippets
>can be
>>    taken "as they are" and pasted in QGIS
>>    - Change the doc style to the more readable Read-The-Docs vanilla
>>    theme (fully supported by sphinx). A live example here
>>    https://qgis.org/test/en/.
>>    - Besides from contents, writing documentation isn't easy because
>>    the complex framework (sphinx, git, github, etc). Improving the
>>    github editor would be a great enhancement
>>    - Cleaning the issue tracker in github (> 400 issue now) in many
>>    different ways: verifying issues, closing duplicates, make order
>in the
>>    labels, etc
>> On 12/4/19 2:46 pm, Andrew Jeffrey wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I agree with Jo's respone to Camerons question.
>> Training materials are generally tailored to a type of customer and I
>> believe makes it difficult to develop consolidated material that
>works for
>> everyone. The similarities I do see in training material though is
>> basics, the kind of basics that are taught to new users like those in
>> education space.
>> As Jo mentioned there is potential here to break a monolopy in this
>> and get exposure to new users early in their development. What makes
>> even better is a solid training material base owned by the community
>can be
>> used by anyone creating training material, providing a consistent
>> base whether you learn in your own time online or go to trainer "A".
>> Effectively consolidating the "QGIS beginner" training material.
>> Regards
>> Andrew
>> On Thu, Apr 11, 2019 at 2:21 AM Jo Cook <jo.k.cook at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> HI All,
>>> <snip>
>>> Secondly- Cameron's question about QGIS courses- we also run QGIS
>>> training courses in the UK, and I think there's a fairly wide
>market, both
>>> geographically, and in the types of customer. We are focused on
>>> with cloud technologies, such as delivering QGIS via AWS AppStream,
>>> less on teaching people to use all of the functionality, for example
>>> higher-end processing and analysis. Having said that, I think
>there's a
>>> really big need for standard training materials- and also if
>possible the
>>> kind of training materials that could be used for schools, to try to
>>> the monopoly that certain proprietary companies have on that area.
>>> Regards
>>> Jo
>>> On Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 2:27 PM Cameron Shorter <
>>> cameron.shorter at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Thanks for the introduction Nick. One thing that puzzles me is that
>>>> there appears to be a lot of people setting up QGIS training
>courses and I
>>>> would have thought it would be beneficial of these separate
>>>> were to become more consolidated.
>>>> I'd expect that consolidating workshops would be a very valuable
>>>> as it would focus the community together.
>>>> It would also be a suitably challenging task to bring multiple
>>>> together, and something that would be worthy of a senior technical
>>>> expertise.
>>>> What are people's thoughts on the current state of available QGIS
>>>> training courses? Is there potential to consolidate? Or is everyone
>>>> tailoring to their unique user base?
>>>> Warm regards, Cameron
>>>> On 10/4/19 10:13 pm, Nick Bearman wrote:
>>>> <snip>
>>>> I'm keen to learn how to contribute more effectively, particularly
>>>> QGIS documentation, and I am also looking to run a workshop on how
>>>> contribute to OS documentation at upcoming FOSS4G UK event in
>Edinburgh, UK
>>>> in Sept.
>>>> I am familiar with Git/GitHub and Markdown. The RST format of the
>>>> Documentation site sometimes eludes me! I look forward to working
>with you
>>>> all.
>>>> --
>> Cameron Shorter
>> Technology Demystifier
>> Open Technologies and Geospatial Consultant
>> M +61 (0) 419 142 254
>Cameron Shorter
>Technology Demystifier
>Open Technologies and Geospatial Consultant
>M +61 (0) 419 142 254

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