Saturday, February 14, 2009

Floss Documentation and Manuals

It is a fact that free, libre and open source software (floss) use is on the rise. Still, the momentum is not as steep as developers want it to be. One major handicap for propagation of floss applications is the lack of clear and concise documentation. Some may argue that there is enough documentation to get anyone going. Not quite so!

A few months back I wrote a how-to about uploading a favicon to a Blogspot blog. Yesterday, I asked a friend who had a blog, if he could upload a favicon according to my instructions in the article. He tried and came back telling me he was unable to understand it. What went wrong?

Apparently I failed to put my feet into the shoes of a completely novice user. What was clear for me, was not so clear for him.

It is really a sort of black voodoo to accomplish such a task. Human mind plays tricks and thoughts outpace words.

I came across Floss Manuals a few days ago, and that is why I arranged the aforementioned test.

FLOSS Manuals make free software more accessible by providing clear documentation that accurately explains their purpose and use. Each manual explains what the software does and what it doesn’t do, what the interface looks like, how to install it, how to set the most basic configuration necessary, and how to use its main functions. To ensure the information remains useful and up to date the manuals are regularly developed to add more advanced uses, and to document changes and new versions of the software.

You can find quality documentation for various floss applications like Inkscape, OpenOffice, Firefox, Muse, NvU, Audacity, Blender, etc. Definitely worth a look.

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