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Getting started with Google Season of Docs

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Google Season of Docs is an annual program by Google, providing an opportunity for technical writers to contribute to open-source software. While a majority are mistaken about the notion of Open-Source to be exclusive to developers, there are a myriad of tasks that revolve around documentation, UI/UX and more. Through Google Season of Docs, technical writers get an opportunity to develop high-quality documentation that revolves around end-users and developers who would like to utilize the software for a better purpose.

History

Google Season of Docs was started by Google Developers back in 2019. I came to know about the program when the application process was started last year, through Voice of Code, a community that I was a part of as a Medium Publication Lead. During that time, I was working as a Technical Content Reviewer at GeeksforGeeks and as a Technical Content Writer for one of the cybersecurity startups in India. I found this opportunity lucrative to help me bolster my writing and documentation skills. It prompted me to reach out to multiple organizations.

During my search, I reached out to Libreoffice, ElectronJS and Django. Having experience working with all of the tools and technologies, I was confident to work on these projects. Due to time constraints and lack of experience in making a purposeful proposal, I couldn’t apply to any of the organization. This experience gave me an outlook towards how we can work in Open-Source and some time for introspection on what can be improved.

Fast forward to 2021, and I have been selected as a Technical Writer for moja global during the Google Season of Docs 2021. This year Google Season of Docs will be a 7-months tenure starting from April 16 and ending on November 16. I have been a part of the community since January 2021, and I’m lucky to have been mentored by Andrew O'Reilly-Nugent, Sabita Rao and Sneha Mishra during the duration.

Project Details

During Google Season of Docs 2021, I will be collaborating with moja global to extend the documentation that Sneha and Anthony worked on during last year’s Season of Docs. I will be collaborating with the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) headed by Andrew O’Reilly-Nugent (TSC Director) to audit, prepare and develop technical documentation, tutorials and case studies. During this tenure, I will be mentored by Sabita Rao, who is a GSoD ‘20 graduate from CERN.

During my tenure, I will work with the TSC to canvas existing FLINT users, including the Mullion Group (Australia) and NRCan (Canada). The Full Lands Integration Tool (FLINT) is an open-source modular C++ framework that combines data from different sources like satellite data or ground data to calculate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. FLINT integrates data from remote sensing, ground observations and other sources to estimate fluxes and stocks of greenhouse gasses in different pools consistent with the guidance from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

My project break-down is as follows:

Develop a content strategy for moja global:

  • Audit the user experience when navigating moja global projects and documentation.
  • Develop a style guide for moja global for a consistent documentation.
  • Design overarching content workflow that ensures regular content creation, review and promotion.

Prepare documentation on setting up configuration files:

  • Audit the existing documentation and regarding FLINT configuration as this is currently fragmented and difficult to navigate.
  • Connect with subject matter experts and developers to understand the most common FLINT analyses.
  • Provide a beginner friendly tutorial for two (2) analyses (Tier-1 and Tier-3) being actively developed by moja global teams.

Develop case studies for moja global:

  • Work with the TSC to prioritise a list of case studies.
  • Collaborate with volunteers within the Documentation Working Group to develop five (5) case studies for moja global.
  • Publish two (2) case studies on the contributors website.

During this project, I will be collaborating with another technical writer (Sarthak Kundra) to prepare and deploy the first version of the contributors website. I will also work with Shubham Karande, who will help me unearth the technical aspects of FLINT, map different projects across the moja global community and provide assistance with the system documentation. I will also be working with Mohit Kumar on developing case studies with the FLINT while providing valuable inputs for the end user documentation.

Why should you participate?

Coming from a Computer Science and Engineering background, I hold technical writing and documentation in high regard. It is because while contributing to Open Source, things get messy quick if we don’t have proper documentation to fall back on. Through a program like Google Season of Docs, we impact a lot of users and contributors who are using the software in real-time and would like to have the know-how and understanding of the software.

My participation with moja global is primarily driven by my motivation and interest to make a positive real-world impact through open source. My association with moja global and Google Season of Docs, helps me make a guided impact towards climate change right from my desktop and keyboard. It brings us to the most important postulate of living a purposeful life, that my mentor Brij Sethi Sir, once talked about: “See yourself as a child of the whole planet”.

Coming to the question why you should participate: The advantages are numerous and huge. Getting to work with an Open-Source community far exceeds any of the advantages. While working with any Open Source community, the real value is extracted with the continued indulgence with the community and expanding on the project for the longer run. Apart from that, working with mentors and capitalizing on the resources and guidance provided by them, should be a motivation strong enough for you to fill up your application.

As I start my journey, I will use this simple website to update my progress, blog about my journey and share my learnings during the Google Season of Docs. If you would like to reach out to me, please feel free to send me an E-Mail here: contact@harshcasper.com.