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Re: Releasing manuals less often, ditching translations


Hey, Ben.

On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 4:50 PM, Benjamin Humphrey <humphreybc@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
* snip *
> Rather than see the team disintegrate, which would be terrible, I
> figure we need to slim our goals down a bit and perhaps give us a
> greater time span to work in. Hence I propose one (or both) of the
> following:
> * Not releasing the manual for every release, but perhaps only .04
> releases (yearly) or only LTS releases (every two years).
> * Releasing only in English, at least until we have a better
> infrastructure for translations
> My preference would be the first option. I feel that it's not
> necessary for us to have a new manual every 6 months, what with the
> large amount of documentation and support elsewhere and the fact that
> not enough changes every six months to justify a new book. I think
> that having our material in other languages is important, but it's
> difficult to coordinate such a mammoth task when we have very limited
> infrastructure for translation this amount of text.
> I believe if we toned down our lofty release goals, we'll have more
> time to work on things like the Support and Learning Center, the
> personas, quickstart booklets and other things, giving us a better,
> more complete and concise product overall, even if it was released
> less regularly.

I don't think that releasing less frequently (given that we'd release
a new manual at most every six months) would help.  We have to wait
until after UI freeze before we can take screenshots and update some
of the text.  So there will always be a mad frenzy of work required
between the UI freeze and the Ubuntu release date.

We could, however, postpone the manual releases until, say, a month
after the release of Ubuntu.  That would provide authors, editors,
translators, etc. some time to get the released version installed so
they can help double-check the text of the manual and take

I think there are two fundamental problems that we've encountered
during the Maverick cycle: (1) a cumbersome process and (2) a lack of
an editor to keep track of the progress, keep everyone on task, and
keep moving things forward.

First, an overview of our current process.

Would-be authors and editors have a number of hurdles that they must surmount:

1. They must download TeX Live 2010 from the TeX Live site directly as
the Ubuntu packages are inadequate.
2. They must download our manual's source files from the bzr repository.
3. They must acquaint themselves with bzr, LaTeX, and our particular
LaTeX commands.
4. They must be willing to run pre-release versions of Ubuntu.

Translators also have a rough time:

1. They must wait until all of the English text has been written and
uploaded to Launchpad/Rosetta.
2. They must acquaint themselves with the translation rules for all of
our LaTeX code.
3. In addition, translation editors share the same burdens as the authors above.

Throughout this process, there is no easy way for someone to see
what's already been achieved and what's yet to be done for the current
release.  Subsequently, it's difficult for newcomers to figure out how
they can help.

This brings me to the second problem we encountered during the
Maverick cycle: the lack of an editor.

I think the manual needs an editor-in-chief whose job it is to manage
the activity of the authors, editors, and translators.  This editor
would track the progress of the manual throughout the release cycle,
ensure that progress is being made, assist newcomers, and, in general,
manage the release process.

Now a few words on how I'd like to see the process improved.

I'd like to replace our current workflow (LaTeX, bzr, etc.) with
something that allows for more ad-hoc, drive-by writing, editing, and
translating.  Someone should be able to pop in, spare five minutes of
their time, and help us write, edit, or translate a paragraph --
without having to download gigabytes of files first.

It should be easy for everyone to see the progress and status of the
manual (and its translations) and to find a task they can help with.

I'm happy to discuss this in more detail, but it may be better suited
for a different thread.


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