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Documentation for free software is generally a problem area, both for users and developers. But developers at least have the code to consult, whereas most users are left poking around through menu items and consulting multiple web pages. The FLOSS Manuals project is using techniques similar to those used in free software development to produce manuals for users.
The project seeks to create the kind of manuals that users may be used to from proprietary software packages. The project's About page describes the manuals being produced:
There are a wide variety of manuals in progress, covering graphics and audio tools, OpenOffice, Firefox, WordPress for blogging, and more. The most recent addition is a set of eight manuals for the One Laptop Per Child XO. These were created as part of a XO/Sugar book sprint held in August in Austin, Texas. The manuals cover the XO hardware and Sugar interface as well as six different activities that are available as part of Sugar.
The use of a "sprint" is just part of the adoption of free software development strategies. The project is set up to allow for collaborative development by a community. FLOSS Manuals describes it this way:
FLOSS manuals clearly fill a niche that is needed in the free software world. The manuals have a rather professional look that will immediately stand out to users. There is a lot of work to be done, but it would appear that the project has made an excellent start. As one might guess, it is always looking for more interested folks to write, edit, and proofread manuals.
(Thanks to LWN reader David Farning for suggesting we look at this project.)
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