BookSprint – results!

What a week it was. I’m tired but very proud of what we accomplished.

We wrote seven manuals for One Laptop per Child in a week: one for Sugar, the operating system, one the XO, which is the hardware for all of the deployments for One Laptop per Child, and manuals for five Activities: Browse, Terminal, Write, Chat, and Record. I think our PDF page count is over 200 pages!

Cover pages from the seven manuals we completed.

Results – the XO Manual is available (56 pages) and the Sugar Manual is available (132 pages). While the XO manual still has some missing images (screenshots and such), and I’d like to keep expanding the “Beyond Activities” chapter in the Sugar manual, we met the goals of the Sprint. Documentation never feels “done,” does it? Updated to add: the images are in the networking chapter of the XO manual, yuh!

Here’s how the week went. Sunday afternoon, we met at my employers for about 2-3 hours to plan out the outlines for all the books and make sure the scope was appropriate for the writers we had. I had an online discussion the prior week on the OLPC Library list, where content is discussed, to get buy-in from the community on the scope of the books and the audience for the books. By focusing the audience, we helped set scope, and by asking questions about scope and getting feedback, we could further narrow down the outlines for the manuals.

Sunday night we had a nice social event with the XO Austin user’s group at Mozart’s coffee house and finished up the night at Hula Hut for a nice dinner and drinks discussion. This type of informal socializing helped us get to know each other.

In a great conference room at Motive on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we wrote all day, as if it were a work day. Tuesday night we had a cookout at the hotel. We intended to have some more rest and relaxation Wednesday afternoon, but then decided to push it to the evening to keep the writing momentum going forward, but we all were tired enough to opt out of a 10 o’clock movie at the Alamo Draft House.

Thursday was spent as if we were in the last lap of the sprint, writing and finishing furiously, and Friday we spent doing cleanup in order to create all seven PDFs by the end of the day.

I’ll have a lot more to say about the BookSprint in the coming weeks and months, because I believe in this model for free documentation and I am so in awe of FLOSS Manual’s wiki toolset and remix capabilities. Updated to add: thanks to Adam Hyde, Aleksandar Erkalovic (aco), who was updating while we sprinted, and Lotte Meijer, who made the awesome covers for the manuals. Your group makes up an amazing team.

In the meantime, enjoy some of my favorite pictures from the event.

Adam quite happy with the resulting PDF printouts
Walter Bender of Sugar Labs, and Adam of FLOSS Manuals writing the day away
FLOSS Manuals' wiki interface even works in the Browse Activity on an XO laptop as shown in this screenshot!

What’s next? As the maintainer of the doc set in FLOSS Manuals, I’m monitoring notifications on every manual we worked on. I want to continue accepting documentation requests through the Comment system on each chapter of the manuals in FLOSS Manuals. I hope that the participants will continue to feel ownership and make updates as they see fit. We’re hoping to translate both the content and the FLOSS Manuals interface to Spanish to assist in and create efficiencies for Spanish translation of the content.

There are so many thank yous and acknowledgments for the hard work this week – I hope I have adequately personally thanked all who participated in the planning leading up to the sprint as well as the many people who participated in the sprint itself. I’m bursting with pride in the community effort here and hoping to keep the momentum going in an even, sustainable pace. For the next few weeks I need to get my energy back from such a “sprint” effort, but I’m very proud of our results.


  • September 4, 2008 - 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Hi Anne,

    I think it’s wonderful that you get to be involved with this project. Do let me know if and when OLPC offers the buy one local/send one abroad program again. I want to get each of my kids either one of these green laptops or a Linux-based Asus EEE.


  • September 5, 2008 - 8:46 am | Permalink

    Hi Tony – You won’t have to wait long! OLPC will offer the G1G1 (Give 1, Get 1) again this fall, and the neatest part is, it will include online user assistance written at the BookSprint. Docs rock!

    But wait, there’s more! 🙂 You might want to run Sugar, the kid’s operating system from OLPC, on the Asus EEE hardware, or on an old laptop you’ve got laying around. There’s a downloadable file on and my husband made a USB stick with Sugar on it the other night – runs on our hand-me-down Dell laptop (although the Internet doesn’t work, so we’re still troubleshooting that.) 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for the note and for showing your support of the project.

  • September 5, 2008 - 9:09 am | Permalink

    Hi Anne,

    I discussed the Booksprint article with Tom Johnson in his new podcast:

    I’m really proud of your team by the way, and what you’ve accomplished. I think this type of collaboration is revolutionary and innovative in supporting open source projects.

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  • James
    September 18, 2008 - 11:45 am | Permalink

    Hi, I found your blog on this new directory of WordPress Blogs at I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, i duno. Anyways, I just clicked it and here I am. Your blog looks good. Have a nice day. James.

  • Robert Braxton
    October 2, 2008 - 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Anne, deepest thanks for all the great work! Our very small group was in Kenya between July 2 and July 22 taking six of the “Get” XO systems to a primary school where we concentrated on training three teachers where there were over 400 students through “standard” eight. Now working to get in touch with other Kenya projects for this November and we have a larger group of about twenty going back in July 2009 (we hope with additional XO units). I am tech (support) guru in our very small group and the majority of requests were for manuals (by the people on the U.S.A. side). Paper and printing are rare where we have been going for 20 years, electricity having been connected after our 1996 summer work camp. This is church-sponsored.

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