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Doing it Twice? Write it Down!

Posted by on in Cloud Best Practices

There’s a great meme going around about geeks and repetitive tasks. Because geeks will often get annoyed at the effort of doing something manually, they often decide to find a way to automate it – which usually involves a lot more effort than doing it the one time but “geeks win, eventually” because they save time in the long run.

But in the long run we’re all dead. Then what? Who knows how to run your script? What happens when it needs to be maintained? As Jon Udell points out, it’s really not a contest, it’s a process, and non-geeks can play too. Which is why you should also write it down if you’re going to do it more than two times.

OK, “doing it more than two times” is a huge generalization. What I mean more specifically is:

  • If you’re in a team environment or doing work that will keep cropping up.
  • If you’re doing a task that is non-obvious and/or has a complicated series of steps that is non-obvious to people who are not you.
  • If you’re in any kind of critical path that would block shipping or operations if you aren’t there to do the magical things you do.
  • If you want to reduce your project or organization’s Bus Factor (help other people become proficient).
  • If you want to better understand what you do and how you can improve it.

Then you need to take a step back and document the things that you do on a regular basis, because it will help your teammates and (most likely) even you when you come back to a task that you haven’t done for a long time.

Naturally, I’m thinking of this in terms of a project like CloudStack where documentation is vitally important. The success of a distributed team depends a great deal on good documentation.

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CloudStack Docs Sprint Friday

Posted by on in Cloud News

Apache CloudStack 4.1.0-incubating is in full swing, a lot of work going on right now to fix bugs, stabilize features, etc. We’re also working to get the documentation done and reviewed for the release, so that folks who use CloudStack will have the finest possible FM to R.

Here’s the details:

  • When: March 1st, 2013 from 16:00 to 23:00 UTC (that’s 08:00 to 15:00 Pacific time, 11:00 to 18:00 Eastern).
  • Where: On IRC - the #cloudstack-dev channel on Freenode.
  • What: Going though all doc component bugs that remain for 4.1, and/or testing documentation and filing any new bugs.
  • Who: Anyone is welcome to join - doc contributors needed, but also anyone willing to help QA the bugs is more than welcome.
  • Why: Because we want useful, accurate documentation that’s ready by the 4.1.0-incubating release.

Now, it’s entirely possible that those times are inconvenient for some people. (Especially if you insist on sleeping and having a personal life…) That doesn’t mean you’re being left out, it means you have an opportunity to organize another doc sprint that will likely appeal to a different group of contributors who may be available at the same time(s) you are. Or work on docs outside those times and submit bugs, patches, etc. Whatever works for you, but we hope that the sprint will be useful for a number of contributors.

This will be a good time to get fixes and new docs in, and clear reviewboard of any lingering patches that need to be reviewed, etc. It’s also going to be a great time to talk to other folks who work on docs, in case you have any questions about patches, submitting fixes, and so forth. Hope to see you online next Friday!

Tagged in: Apache CloudStack Docs
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Citrix supports the open source community via developer support and evangeslism. We have a number of developers and evangelists that participate actively in the open source community in Apache Cloudstack, OpenDaylight, Xen Project and XenServer. We also conduct educational activities via the Build A Cloud events held all over the world.