At Write the Docs Prague 2021, I was happy to share the story of writing The TYPO3 Guidebook with a community of my fellow documentarians.
Write the Docs: The conference focused on all things related to software documentation.
About TYPO3 and the reason for the book
TYPO3 is an enterprise, open source CMS. The TYPO3 community is a mature, thriving community with active and engaged members. Their motto: “Inspiring people to share”.
TYPO3 enjoys popularity in many parts of Europe, but were looking to increase international adoption, welcome newcomers to the userbase and grow the community.
A whole lot of devs who are busy coding are too busy to even squeeze out a blog post, let alone a book - so this is something that our agency (Open Strategy Partners) could help them with, especially when writing isn’t their day job.
Nerding out about processes
As a technical writer who had never written a book before, this was a lot like writing a very big concept topic, spending lots of time talking to subject matter experts to elicit their knowledge.
The framework of the book is 4 overview chapters followed by 10 practical guides.
We used raw data taken from interviews with experts from the community. We worked in Google Docs, which is a great tool for sharing and reviewing. In many cases we could easily share content for review and some folks just directly wrote whole swathes of content when they felt something hadn’t been covered.
Once handed over to our publisher, they engaged technical reviewers from the community. At this time we engaged the TYPO3 Design Team to create graphics and diagrams for us. Community members also added fully tested code to our GitHub repo to support the guides in Part 2 of the book.
Try it yourself
This is a great story about developer relations. We were able to capture the expertise of the designers, engineers, and experts in the TYPO3 community and weave their story into a cohesive whole.
By the community, for the community.
My hope with this story is to inspire other communities and other organizations to consider writing a book about their tech product or service.
Writing a book gives you the power to carefully curate your content and present it with a clear goal in mind. A book adds to your stable of content, and can sit comfortably alongside (and link out to) the other resources you already have for your product.
Buy it, Share it, Review it
We talk about the book on Twitter with the hashtag #TYPO3Guidebook