Tag Archives: openstack

techpubs writing

Treat Docs like Code: Doc Bugs and Issues

This is a follow on to a post on opensource.com about using git and GitHub for technical documentation. In the OpenSource.com article, I discuss reviews and keeping up with contributions. This post talks about fixes and patches.


What about doc issues in GitHub, how do you get through all those?

In OpenStack, we document how to triage doc bugs, and that’s what you need to do in GitHub, is establish your process for incoming issues. Use Labels in GitHub to indicate the status and priority. Basically, you have to accept that it’s a doc bug, if it’s not a doc bug, ask for more information from the reporter. If you want to create labels for particular deliverables, like the API doc or end-user doc, you can further organize your doc issues. You will need to define priorities as well — what’s critical and must be fixed? What’s more “wishlist” and you’ll get to it when you can? If you use similar systems for both issues and pull requests you’ll have your work prioritized for you when you look at the GitHub backlog.

How can you encourage contributors to create a good pull request for docs?

The best answer for this is “documentation” but also great onboarding. Make sure someone’s first pull request is handled well with a personal touch. There’s a lot of coaching going on when you do reviews. Ensure that you’ve written up “What goes where” as this is often the hardest part of doc maintenance for a large body of work that already exists. This expansion problem is only getting harder in OpenStack as more projects are added. We’re having a lot of documentation sessions at the OpenStack Summit this week and we’d love to talk more about creating good doc patches.

One person I work with uses GitHub emojis every chance he gets when he reviews pull requests. I think that’s fun and sets a nice tone for reviews.

Nitpicking can be averted if you point to your style guide and conventions with a good orientation to a newcomer so that new contributors don’t get turned off by feeling nitpicked.

Have you heard of anyone who has combined GitHub with a different UI “top layer” to simplify the UI?

O’Reilly has done this with their Atlas platform. For reviews, the Gerrit UI has been extremely useful to a large collection of projects like OpenStack. There’s Penflip, which is a better frontend for writers than GitHub. The background story is great in that it offers anecdotes about GitHub being super successful for collaborative writing projects.

I think that GitHub itself is fine if your docs are treated like code. I think GitHub is great for technical writing, API documentation, and the like. Academic writers haven’t found GitHub that much of a match for their collaborative writing, see “The Limitations of GitHub for Writers” for example. It’s the actual terms that have to be adapted and adopted for GitHub to be a match for writers. For example, do you track doc bugs (issues) and write collaboratively with added content treated like software features? I say, yes!

If you just want simple markup like markdown for collaborative writing, check out Beegit. With git in the name I have to wonder if it’s git-backed, but couldn’t figure it out from a few minutes on their site. Looks promising but again, for treating docs like code, living and working with developers.


Male allies for women in tech: What’s needed?

I realized the other day that I have given my “Women in Tech: Be That Light” presentation a half a dozen times in the last year. One question that I still want a great answer for is when a man in the audience asks, “What can I do to make it better? How can I be that light?” I have ideas from my own experiences, and also point to the training courses and Ally Skills workshops offered by the Ada Initiative. Updated to add: Register now for the Monday 5/18 workshop at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver!


On a personal level, here’s my short list based on my own experiences. My experiences are colored by my own privileges being white, straight, married with an amazing partner, a parent, living in a great country in a safe neighborhood, working in a secure job. So realize that even while I write my own experiences at a specific place in my career, all those stations in life color my own views, and may not directly help people with backgrounds dissimilar to mine.

What do women in tech need? How can I help?

  • Be that friendly colleague at meetups, especially to the few women in the room, while balancing the fact that she probably doesn’t want to be called out as uniquely female or an object to be admired. If you already know her, try to introduce her to someone else with common interests and make connections. If you don’t already know her, find someone you think she would feel comfortable speaking with to say hello. It’s interesting, sometimes I’m completely uncertain about approaching a woman who’s the only “other” woman at a meetup. So, women should also try to find a commonality — maybe one of her coworkers could introduce you to her. For women, it’s important make these connections in friendly and not competing ways, because oddly enough, when I’m the second woman in the room I don’t want to make the other woman feel uncomfortable either!
  • Realize that small annoyances over years add up to real frustration. I don’t point this out to say “don’t be annoying” but rather, be a great listener and be extremely respectful. Micro annoyances over time add up to women departing technical communities in droves. See what you can do in small ways, not just large, to keep women in your current tech communities.
  • For recruiting, when new women show up online on mailing lists or IRC or Github, please do answer questions with a “there are no questions too small or too large” attitude. I never would have survived my first 90 days working on OpenStack if it weren’t for Jay Pipes and Chuck Thier. Jay patiently helped me set up a real development environment by walking me through his setup on IRC. And since he was used to Github and going to Launchpad/Bazaar himself, he didn’t make me feel dumb for asking. Chuck didn’t laugh too hard when I tried to spell check the HTTP header “referer” to “referrer.” I felt like any other newbie, not a “new girl” with these two. (Woops, and I should never use the term “girl” for anyone over the age of 18.)
  • Recognize individuality when talking to team members, regardless of visible differences like gender or ethnicity. I struggle with this myself, having to pause before talking about my kids or my remodeling projects, since not everyone is interested! I struggle with assumptions about people all the time, and have to actively fight them myself. For men, you don’t want to assume an interest in cars or sports, so really this applies regardless of gender. All humans struggle with finding common interests without making assumptions.
  • See if you can do small, non-attention-drawing actions that ensure the safety of women in your communities. With the OpenStack Summit being held in different cities twice a year, I’ve been concerned for my personal safety as a woman traveling alone. Admitting that fear means I try to be more savvy about travel, but I still make mistakes like letting my phone battery die after calling a cab in another city after 11 at night. If you see a woman at a party alone, see if you can first make her feel welcome, but then also ensure there are safety measures for her traveling after the event.
  • If you see something, say something, and report correctly and safely for both the bad actor and target. This is really hard to do in the moment, believe me, I’ve been there. For me, being prepared is best, and knowing the scenarios and reporting methods ahead of time gives me the slightly better confidence I can do the right thing in the moment even if I’m shocked or scared. Find the “good and bad” ways to deal with incidents through this excellent Allies_training page.

If you’ve read this far, you really do want to make life better as a male ally. Realize that it’s okay to make mistakes — I’ve made them and learned from them over the years. This inclusion work by allies is not the easiest work to do, nor is it rewarding really. It’s the work of being a good human, and we’re all going to screw up. If someone points out a foible to you, such as saying “girls” instead of “women,” say “thank you” and move on, promising to do better next time.

If you think you already do all these things, make sure you look for ways to expand your reach to other minority groups and less privileged participants. I’m trying to do better with the physically different people I encounter at work. I would like to find ways to work well with people suffering from depression. I’ve got a son with Type I diabetes, what sort of advocacy can I do for people with unique medical needs? I’m asking myself how to make a difference. How about you? How can you do your part to equalize the tech industry?

work writing

Be sure to read about my Stacker journey

The editors at The New Stack do great things with their articles, and mine is no exception! Be sure to read Anne Gentle: One Stacker’s Journey.

Even though I’ve lived in Austin, Texas, for over 14 years now, I tend to say I’m a midwesterner when asked. There are traits associated with the spirit of the midwest that I’ll always identify in myself: hard work, resource creativity and conservation, humility, and a sense of wonder at trends being set somewhere in the world. Read more…


State of the Migration to Sphinx/RST

I wanted to document the migration journey while we are in the middle of it. Last week the OpenStack Super User site did a great article about the migration, How you can help with the documentation site refresh. We talked about the reasons for it: enable more contributors, offer simpler markup, be more Pythonic.

And more Pythonic we are. Let’s dig into what’s going on with the migration, what we’ve learned, and what we still have to learn.

Migration process

We’re nearly done with patches to review converted End User Guide files, but just a few Admin User Guide files are complete. Sign up on the OpenStack wiki at Documentation/Migrate. I’ve figured out how to include certain files in a build conditionally with an extension we’ll call “scope” for now. Using (and abusing) the meta information by putting a special directive in a file meant for admin-only lets us “tag” certain files for inclusion and build output with those files included.

New docs.openstack.org content page design
New docs.openstack.org content page design

How to build locally

We have always had tox jobs for building and testing the docs. The newest one runs the sphinx-build command for the end user guide.

If you don’t want to use tox, install these prereqs locally to test only the build:

pip install sphinx; pip install openstackdocstheme

Next, switch to the directory containing a conf.py and run:

sphinx-build /path/to/source/ path/to/build/

This command builds html output by default.

In troubleshooting some markup I found that the sphinx-build command does not give as much information about the markup as python setup.py build_sphinx does. So I will test a switch with a setup.py file as well as a conf.py file for each guide in the openstack-manuals repo.

To build locally with tox, follow the instructions on the wiki page. Building with tox is preferred as that matches our gate tests for patches. Feel free to ask for help in #openstack-doc on freenode IRC if you run into errors. We have tested the instructions on Linux, Mac, and Windows.

Conventions and editing RST markup

Docs tools guru Andreas Jaeger already had a head start in adding RST markup conventions to our Documentation/Markup_conventions wiki page on the OpenStack wiki. I’m finding that there are some types of content, such as extra information embedded in a list item like a table, that just can’t come over in its current state. I’m still working through these questions and it seems as though numbered lists can’t have much more than single list items. Anyone with info, please let us know if these are possible:

  • How to get numbered list continuation to work when you have a table after a #. list item?
  • How to get numbered list continuation to work when you have a bulleted list between #. list items?
  • How to get get embedded .. note: directives to work between numbered list items?

Matt Kassawara asked if there is a side-by-side editor for RST like there is for Markdown, and so far there is not, but the Sphinx development mailing list has a thread about what authors currently do as well as what they’d like to build.


We still need output bugs fixed. To me, the top priorities are:

  1. Sphinx template needs precise “Log a doc bug” link created on-demand similar to current functionality
  2. Sphinx openstackdocstheme needs to be tested for the translation toolchain
  3. Sphinx openstackdocstheme doesn’t style admonitions (note, warning, important) correctly
  4. Plus sign appearing when numbered list followed by bulleted list

What I need to understand is what would compel us to update Sphinx itself, considering we don’t know when their next release is. We already pin to a beta version (1.3b) so perhaps  we can patch as needed and pin our version.


Generally, make sure your Python environment is installed and ready to go, and then use a virtualenv to be sure you have “corded off” the environment and know exactly what’s installed.

Use “pip freeze” to get a list of what is installed. If a package is missing, make sure you have access to pypi by running the pip install command with -vvv. Also if you’re not working in a virtualenv, ensure you run the install command with sudo on Mac or Linux.

If you’re working within a virtual machine like VirtualBox, you may find that networking settings change even if you go from wired to wireless or from one wireless network to another.

If the output looks strange to you, delete the /build/ directory then re-build. I suspect that CSS and JS files remain outdated or are not copied over every time.

Please log bugs in openstack-manuals with the tag “openstackdocstheme” if you see bugs in the output.

What this means for new guides in progress

The only new guide in progress is the Networking Guide and some of it’s in markdown, some of it’s in DocBook, and all of it can go to RST. We must get the translation toolchain working prior to publishing, and I’d prefer to get more output bugs fixed prior to switching any more guides.


community techpubs tools

Tearing down obstacles to OpenStack documentation contributions

Rip. Shred. Tear. Let’s gather up the obstacles to documentation contribution and tear them down one by one. I’ve designed a survey with the help of the OpenStack docs team to determine blockers for docs contributions. If you’ve contributed to OpenStack, please fill it out here:


I want to use this survey to avoid shouting opinions and instead make sure we gather data first. This survey helps us find the biggest barriers so that we can build the best collaboration systems for documentation on OpenStack. Here are the obstacles culled from discussions in the community:

  • The git/gerrit workflow isn’t in my normal work environment
  • The DocBook and WADL (XML source) tools are not in my normal work environment
  • My team or manager doesn’t value documentation so we don’t make time for it
  • Every time I want to contribute to docs, I can’t figure out where to put the information I know
  • When I’ve tried to patch documentation, the review process was difficult or took too long
  • When I’ve contributed to docs, developers changed things without concern for docs, so my efforts were wasted
  • Testing doc patches requires an OpenStack environment I don’t have set up or access to in a lab
  • I think someone else should write the documentation, not me
  • I would only contribute documentation if I were paid to do so

Based on the input from the survey, I want to gather requirements for doc collaboration.

We have different docs for different audiences:

  • cross-project docs for deploy/install/config: openstack-manuals
  • API docs references, standards: api-site and others

These are written with the git/gerrit method. I want to talk about standing up a new docs site that serves our requirements:

Solution must be completely open source
Content must be available online
Content must be indexable by search engines
Content must be searchable
Content should be easily cross-linked by topic and type (priority:low)
Enable comments, ratings, and analytics (or ask.openstack.org integration) (priority:low)

Readers must get versions of technical content specific to version of product
Modular authoring of content
Graphic and text content should be stored as files, not in a database
Consumers must get technical content in PDF, html, video, audio
Workflow for review and approval prior to publishing content

Content must be re-usable across authors and personas (Single source)
Must support many content authors with multiple authoring tools
Existing content must migrate smoothly
All content versions need to be comparable (diff) across versions
Content must be organizationally segregated based on user personas
Draft content must be reviewable in HTML
Link maintenance – Links must update with little manual maintenance to avoid broken links and link validation

Please take the survey and make your voice heard! Also please join us at a cross-project session at the OpenStack Summit to discuss doc contributions. We’ll go over the results there. The survey is open until the first week of May.

community work writing

How to Build OpenStack Docs and Contributors through Community

I’m well past the three year mark, working on a new open source project that grows and grows every six months. I’ve been working closely with Diane Fleming at Rackspace to focus completely on upstream OpenStack. Upstream means that all of our documentation work goes to the open source project itself. So while Rackspace runs OpenStack in production and for our customers private clouds, Diane and I focus on documentation that helps any organization run and use OpenStack. We have put together an outline of what we do to make upstream OpenStack documentation better all the time.

Growth, scaling, and related challenges

When I started, there were just two projects with two APIs. Now we have 130 git repositories fostered by over twenty related programs. As you can imagine this scenario causes scaling difficulties but we are bravely making our way. Here are some of the challenges we have faced and what we’ve done to lessen the pain of coordinated, collaborative technical documentation in an open source community.


In the face of language and technical barriers, the OpenStack docs team used a combination of IRC meetings, documentation boot camp, Google hang-outs, a busy docs-team mailing list, and other methods to create a flourishing, global team of writers and technical contributors who have immensely improved the OpenStack docs in the last couple of years. The release that went out in Spring of 2013, three people wrote half of the docs. For the release that went out in Fall of 2013, seven people wrote half the docs. I can’t wait to see what our numbers are for the release going out next, on April 17th.

Team-building tools – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Here are some benefits and pitfalls of these tools:

  • IRC: Pros – clear agenda, follow-through week-to-week, global participation now that we have APAC and North American meetings. IRC meeting bogs enable an automated log of minutes. Cons: difficult to find agreeable time, no face-to-face, hard to introduce new topics.
  • Office hours: Seemed like a good idea but fell by the wayside, we did not have much attendance. As our team grows, people can stop by the IRC channel at any time to get one-on-one help.
  • Google Hangouts: With the video and voice enabled, it is nice to see each other’s faces without having to travel. Hard to find an agreeable time with the round-the-world team.
  • Boot camp: Extremely positive experience – spawned new ideas and new connections. Downside is the cost/time factor. We had great survey responses but decided we didn’t need one every six months.
  • Mailing list: Good way to resolve immediate issues and gather consensus as well as multiple view points.
  • Book sprints: Good way to get a needed book written and distributed. Not a good way to build ongoing community for maintenance, and in some ways you have to be careful not to build a book that no one else thinks they should contribute to. But community is just one part of good docs – this is a good complement to other efforts.

OpenStack docs – before and after

How have the docs changed due to team building?

  • Cleaner, more compact library. We did a huge refactor prior to the Boot Camp, which has made it easier to specify what types of content goes where.
  • Better writing. Professional technical writers have done an amazing job avoiding “frankendoc” — by editing, reviewing, and polishing with an agreed-upon style guide, we improve the actual writing to better serve readers and users.
  • Better technical content. In OpenStack, teams have core reviewers and most teams require two core reviewers must approve a change before it gets built to the published site. As we expand our reviewers (not just core but many reviewers) our docs have improved technically.
  • Better automation. By writing tools that scrape the code for docstrings we are able to keep up with fast-moving projects that release every six months.
  • Timing with releases. We carefully scope what documents are considered tied to a release. The Install Guides and Configuration Reference are the only two books built from a set release. All other documents are continuously published.

OpenStack contributors – before and after

How have the relationships among contributors and contributors’ roles changed due to team building?

  • Much greater communication among contributors – now we know each other on a more personal level, and feel more comfortable working together
  • Contributors have found where their strengths lie in the community. Some people are more tools and gear heads and build gates and tests and build tools. Some people are natural editors and review heavily with suggested edits. Some people are blue-sky visionaries. Some people are heads-down system administrators and architects. There’s a place for everyone, not just writers.

What’s to come?

We want to discuss revisions to our original vision openly. This blog post is a starting point, but we are listening on all available channels. At the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta in May, I want to collaborate on a request for proposals for a new front-end design for our documentation that can help us make changes to how docs are authored. I’d like to find out more about ways to enable non-CLA contributors to the docs. I have lots of ideas and look forward to working with this amazing group to improve our processes and results.


community work

Finding an OpenStack Mentor

Last week I ran an internal “So You Want to be an OpenStack Contributor?” workshop showing the different ways to work on OpenStack. Here’s the slide show so you can see the way I approached it. As the Documentation Program Technical Lead you’d think I’d steer people straight to the documentation bug backlog, but I try to find out where interests lie before going straight to doc fixes. Definitely people should read the docs as a great start.

You can work on OpenStack in non-code ways, such as bug triaging. Also the OpenStack Foundation does community marketing and staffs booths at events from the community. But a great way to understand the ins and outs of OpenStack-landia is to commit a patch.

I have to admit, I didn’t know much when I first started working on OpenStack at Rackspace. The Swift team was the group I had immediate access to in person. Wow were they patient with me while I made hilarious-in-hindsite errors. I had a patch where I changed “referer” one r to “referrer” two rs, because duh that’s how referrer is spelled. Well as it turns out that’s not the way the WC3 HTTP Protocol specifies request headers since 1992 or so, woops! Then I also managed to change the RST backticks (`) to single quotes (‘) which is absolutely not going to render correctly with Sphinx. Chuck Thier patiently explained the errors I had made and how to correct them. So do not be discouraged if it’s difficult to get the hang of your first patch or two or ten. Code reviewers are happy to help you iterate and revise. I’ve heard of good and bad patch reviewing going on in the community so I encourage you to find a real person who can help you get helpful reviews.

We also have organized OpenStack mentor programs now. We’ve been participating in the GNOME Outreach Program for Women for three rounds, and we’re a participating organization with the Google Summer of Code program for 2014. There are ideas for projects on the OpenStack wiki:

We have dedicated IRC channels for new contributors – #openstack-101 and #openstack-opw on freenode. Our OPW interns have written great blog entries about getting started with OpenStack (In a nutshell:how OpenStack works) and DevStack (Installing DevStack with Vagrant). Their fresh eyes make for great starting points. I encourage us all make this work both ways – people of OpenStack, be mentors, and newcomers, seek out the people in OpenStack who want to help you get started. Updated to add: be sure to check out opensource.com for “How to Contribute to OpenStack.”

community techpubs work writing

OpenStack Operations Guide Mini Sprint


We held a two-day mini-sprint in Boston at the end of January to update the OpenStack Operations Guide. You may remember the first five-day sprint was in Austin in February 2013. This time, the sprint was shorter with fewer people in Boston and a few remote, but we had quite specific goals:

  • Update from Folsom to Havana (about a year’s worth of OpenStack features)
  • Roadmap discussion about nova-network and neutron, the two software-defined networking solutions implemented for OpenStack
  • Add upgrade instructions from grizzly to havana
  • Implement and test the use of parts to encapsulate chapters
  • Address editor comments from our developmental editor at O’Reilly
  • Add a reference architecture using RedHat Enterprise Linux and neutron for networking

Some quick wins for adding content were:

We added and updated content like mad during the two days:

The two toughest updates are still in progress, and our deadline for handover to O’Reilly is this Wednesday. The first tough nut to crack was getting agreement on adding an example architecture for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. We are nearly there, just a few more fixes to go, at https://review.openstack.org/#/c/69816/. The second is testing the upgrade process from grizzly to havana on both Ubuntu and RedHat Enterprise Linux. That’s still in progress at https://review.openstack.org/#/c/68936/.

The next steps for the O’Reilly edition are proofreading, copyediting, and indexing over the next six weeks or so. I’ll be keeping the O’Reilly edition in synch with our community-edited guide. As always, anyone in the OpenStack community can contribute to the Operations Guide using the steps on our wiki page. This guide follows the O’Reilly style guide rather than our established OpenStack documentation conventions. I’m looking forward to a great future for this guide and we’re all pretty happy with the results of the second mini-sprint.

Thanks to everyone making this a priority! Our host at MIT was Jon Proulx joined by Everett Toews who braved airport layovers and snow, and Tom Fifield who wrote the most patches despite a complete lack of sleep. Joe Topjian worked on edits for months leading up and has been tireless in making sure our integrity and truth lives on through this guide. Thanks too to the the hard working developmental editor at O’Reilly who offered lunch in Boston, Brian Anderson, joined by Andy Oram. David Cramer got DocBook parts working for us in time for the sprint. Summer Long worked long and hard on the example architecture for RedHat. Our remote reviewers Matt Kassawara, Andreas Jaeger, and Steve Gordon were so valuable during the process and ongoing. Shilla Saebi gave some nice copyediting this past week. What an effort!

techpubs work writing

Who Wrote OpenStack Havana Docs?

I know, I know, OpenStack is too obsessed with statistics for contributors. I agree! I want to rise above it but the trend release-over-release for docs is way too tempting for me in my research lab for documentation. So allow me to indulge in some analysis that is similar to my post about this last release, Who Wrote OpenStack Grizzly Docs? Remember? We had 79 docs contributors overall, with 3 of us writing half of the changes for Grizzly. This time we had 130 docs contributors with 7 of us writing just over half the changes in overarching install/config/deploy/operations guides. Progress! We also had at least three supporting companies hire writers dedicated to OpenStack upstream docs. Full of win. I love having OpenStack job postings to offer great tech writers.

Worcester Terrace

We added 100,000 lines more than last release. What? Yes, it’s true. Much of that is from our autodoc efforts, pulling all 1500 configuration options directly from the code, but that’s a compelling number to share.

I ran the same scripts as last time to maintain consistency. All these stats are from the tools that aren’t being maintained any more from openstack-gitdm.

Here are the numbers for the openstack-manuals repository only:

Processed 966 csets from 130 developers
92 employers found
A total of 187524 lines added, 275056 removed (delta -87532)

Developers with the most changesets
 Andreas Jaeger 233 (24.1%)
 annegentle 89 (9.2%)
 Tom Fifield 70 (7.2%)
 Diane Fleming 70 (7.2%)
 Christian Berendt 65 (6.7%)
 Sean Roberts 44 (4.6%)
 Stephen Gordon 41 (4.2%)
 Summer Long 21 (2.2%)
 Lorin Hochstein 20 (2.1%)
 nerminamiller 17 (1.8%)
 Gauvain Pocentek 15 (1.6%)
 Emilien Macchi 15 (1.6%)
 Colin McNamara 14 (1.4%)
 Shaun McCance 13 (1.3%)
 Deepti Navale 11 (1.1%)
 Phil Hopkins 9 (0.9%)
 Aaron Rosen 8 (0.8%)
 Kurt Martin 8 (0.8%)
 Scott Radvan 7 (0.7%)
 Edgar Magana 7 (0.7%)
 Covers 80.434783% of changesets

This is another interesting data set:

Employers with the most hackers (total 136)
Red Hat                     12 (8.8%)
IBM                         12 (8.8%)
Rackspace                    8 (5.9%)
HP                           7 (5.1%)
Nicira                       4 (2.9%)
Mirantis                     4 (2.9%)
SUSE                         2 (1.5%)
Yahoo!                       2 (1.5%)
eNovance                     2 (1.5%)

I also ran these same stats for the api-site repository, where the API user docs are sourced. These docs are still quite different from a contributor and sourcing standpoint and I’m not sure why. Rackspace dedicating Diane Fleming has made a huge difference here, think of what we could do with one more dedicated API doc writer? Ok, we can’t clone Diane, but think of the possibilities.

Developers with the most changesets
Diane Fleming 46 (58.2%)
annegentle 5 (6.3%)
Cyril Roelandt 2 (2.5%)
Kersten Richter 2 (2.5%)
Brian Rosmaita 2 (2.5%)
Rupak Ganguly 2 (2.5%)
QingXin Meng 2 (2.5%)
ladquin 2 (2.5%)
dcramer 2 (2.5%)
Employers with the most hackers (total 23)
Rackspace 5 (21.7%)
IBM 5 (21.7%)
Red Hat 2 (8.7%)

I’m also a web analytics hound. What docs were the most accessed during the lead-up to the Havana release? Here are the top five:

  1. Swift Developer site
  2. Install Guides (Basic and Deploy, both Ubuntu and RedHat/Fedora/Centos)
  3. API Quick Start
  4. OpenStack Operations Guide
  5. Getting Virtual Machine Images page from the OpenStack Compute Administration Guide

To me, these stats show that we’re doing the right things such as dedicating a contractor to the install guide. Thank you Cisco. We still have areas to improve, such as API docs and ensuring end-user docs are a top priority. Our readers are definitely after both deployment and consumption of OpenStack clouds.


Reflecting on the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong

We have come such a long way since November 9, 2010, when I attended my first-ever OpenStack Summit in San Antonio Texas. I couldn’t pronounce Vishvananda Ishaya’s name, I kept interchanging swift and nova code names, and I could hardly remember two Linux commands in a row. But I got some great t-shirts, kept asking questions, got answers from encouraging co-workers and community members, and I learned as quickly as I could. Fake it ’til you make it, right? Fast forward three years, and we come to the first non-US-based OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong, my seventh. Here’s a summary of my favorites.

Dragon welcome dance

What else would we do to get ready for the Summit on the other side of the globe than be welcomed by two dancing dragons! This was a perfect start to the week.
Dragon dance opening

Summit 101 session

I helped with the OpenStack Design Summit 101 again this time, where we let newcomers know how the sessions go, what to expect, how to get the most out of the sessions. Loïc Dachary, Thierry Carrez and I talked about what PTLs want to get out of the summit, how blueprints work, and fielded good questions, all of which are Q&A on https://etherpad.openstack.org/p/icehouse-101. Here are a couple, see the Etherpad for more.
Q: Is the idea to discuss one specific blueprint?
A: More generally, how to we do X, and what blueprints are required to do that. Depends on the session, what blueprints already exist in the area, impact on multiple projects, etc.

Q: Do we make decisions about the specifics of the design?
A: Again depends on session, some session leaders will want a recorded decision as the outcome of the session. At the very least at the end of the session aim to know what the next step is.

If you’re curious, this is pretty much what design summit sessions look like. We intently read the Etherpad displayed on the screen, and if you sit forward, it means you have something to contribute to the discussion.

In an Infra session

Install guide, unleashed

Midweek, I had to make an observation – we’ve never had a working install guide at the Summit until Havana, and the fact we have one has been super helpful for getting it tested. There were doc comments overnight each day of the Summit. I told the docs team through the mailing list:

We need to be sure we are keeping up with the changes to the install guide by fixing what people tell us is wrong. Let’s make install guide bug fixes top priority for the next week to capitalize on all the testing that has come in.

Also, please update https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/HavanaDocTesting. For example, there are doc comments confirming a page works on 13.04. We need to ensure that’s captured in the wiki page so we have an accurate assessment.

Thanks all for the work on the install guide — it is paying off, let’s take the time to clean up what’s being tested.

Sure enough, we have merged in over 50 changes in a week, complete with backports to ensure the Havana install guide gets better and better.

Meet the Technical Committee

One of the highlights of the week was the opportunity to sit on the big stage with my fellow technical committee members. We answered prepared questions from Thierry Carrez, and also queries from the audience. One audience question I didn’t jump on is at 32:40, “… you’re representative of your communities, we are in China, but there is no Asian on the podium. What can you do to actually try to improve the situation?”

John Griffith answered, it’s a matter of who has contributed, and who wants it badly enough to do the work and lead the way. Michael Still said, “You have to be in it to win it,” and noted that Beijing had the highest number last release, but it’ll take time for contributors to self-nominate and run for a spot. Mark McClain noted that as a contributor from Ireland, he has faced the facts as well that he’s in a region with fewer contributors, but he acknowledges how much our understanding of a meritocracy is cultural, and that it’s not shared by everyone. We have to talk about diversity because we don’t have a massive amount of it. I agree that it’s not easy, and I know what it means to feel underrepresented. I think outreach is a great path forward, and I’m dedicated to it for women. I’d love to see more outreach to other communities and learn from them the cultural norms that we can take to the TC and keep working on diversity. It’s a marathon and not a sprint, that’s for certain. We can get better as a community, though, and we need to iterate on ideas all the time. Glad it was brought up in this forum.

Meet the OpenStack Technical Committee

OpenStack Operations Guide

We announced the O’Reilly Early Edition of the OpenStack Operations Guide last week. I had some fun on Twitter trying to get people to guess the animal on the cover. I blogged about it on the OpenStack blog, take a look.

Hong Kong itself

The most incredible thing about OpenStack Summits is all the stackers there together. I never had trouble finding people to go sightseeing with. Here’s the one sightseeing day I had, going on a “crystal bottom” cable car ride to get to a big Buddha statue with a monastery nearby with my teammate Everett Toews, whose write up is on his blog.


We went to the Night Market one evening to buy gifts and eat super fresh seafood. 

All in all it was an amazing trip and another great Summit. I’m so grateful to the OpenStack Foundation and Rackspace for making it happen for me for the seventh time. Feels like a lucky Summit.