Helping Caterpillars Fly

Presented by Nicola Nye
Tuesday 4:40 p.m.–5:20 p.m.
Target audience: Community


You need documentation.

No really, you NEED documentation. The health, longevity and success of all your favourite FOSS depends on it.

This talk examines the Very Hungry Caterpillar lifecycle of a FOSS project. From the early beginnings as a small egg of an idea, into a hungry caterpillar. And then it reflects on why some projects turn into beautiful butterflies and why some never make it past the stage of the cocoon.

Given we would all rather be surrounded by beautiful butterflies, rather than voracious slugs, I propose that the best way for your favourite FOSS project to grow wings is through documentation contributions and not code.

Through my experience on the Cyrus mail server, I'll then go through some practical ways that technical writers, developers and even users can help a project fly. And provide some danger signs on what documentation is actively counterproductive.

We'll look at processes, cheese, templates, pickles, tools, ice cream, communication, cake, style guides and butterflies.

Presented by

Nicola Nye

Nicola's first job was providing email support for the world's first WSYWIG html editor. Not long after, Java came into existence and she spent many years programming for many of Melbourne's internet startups. Now, still deeply scarred from her time trying to help the enthusiastic but bewildered general public, she does what she can to help people educate themselves. This comes in the form of writing documentation for FastMail and Cyrus IMAPd mail server.

When not in front of the computer, Nicola is busy being Wonder Woman mum to her two young kids: Supergirl and Hulk, ably assisted by her Superman husband. A family who fights evil together, stays together.

She keeps fit by running from zombies, by riding her bike and practicing Tai Chi.

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