Phil Bull (philbull) wrote,
Phil Bull

DevDocs/Tools Hackfest day one; Handling lots of screenshots

DevDocs/Tools Hackfest day one

You find me, Phil "Sensible" Bull, seeking refuge from an uncharacteristic early-December British snow-apocalypse, in the warmer, sunnier climes of Berlin. It's -11 degrees C out there. My legs went numb for a while. But there's zebra steak (courtesy Openismus) and Internet (courtesy Openismus), so I'm happy (courtesy Openismus).

Today we spent a lot of time discussing the GNOME developer platform and "developer stories" (essentially, who is trying to do what with GNOME). It looks like a decent platform overview is a must-have, so we worked on stubbing one out, and discussing the roles of the various libraries and what they offer to developers. We have a really impressive platform, organised in a really confusing way.

A big project over the course of the hackfest will be the writing of a number of awesome* ten-minute introductions to various GNOME technologies. The plan is to have a handful of tutorials for writing interesting apps using Clutter, Telepathy, GStreamer and so on, which you can work through over a lunch break and which leave you enamoured with GNOME. It's pretty amazing what you can cobble together in about an hour - Johannes has made some sort of noise weapon, for example.

One particularly nice thing that popped out of the discussion was the identification of K-12 (school) kids as an interested developer user group. We have people out there using open-source tools to teach programming and we could be doing more to support them. Any ideas, folks?

(* Technical term)

Handling lots of screenshots?

If you're dealing with a lot of screenshots in your documentation, you might be interested in one of these tools:
  • Tuxtorial is a tool for producing image-based walkthrough tutorials. You can host your tutorials on their website.
  • QuickShot is an almost-automatic screenshot capture program, and supports translations.
Some types of documentation are well-suited to a heavily-visual approach (like walkthroughs), but not all of them. We tend to use screenshots sparingly in the GNOME and Ubuntu docs - overusing them distracts from the textual content, and they lose their power to highlight key points and illustrate things that are difficult to describe. That said, there are a few places where we should be making better use of them, but we haven't been because of the translation burden.
Tags: developers, documentation, gnome, hackfest
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