Continuous delivery (CD) and application release automation (ARA) are usually associated with software. These methodologies can be extended to other parts of your business, such as technical documentation. The output of a build/deploy/test/release software process and a build/publish tech doc process are similar – both produce sets of files that can be executed, uploaded, or published to multiple sites. When companies or organizations think of CD and ARA, they most often apply it to the software build/deploy/test/release process. There are many sources of information about how to do this, such as reference books, blogs, communities, and conferences where information is shared and new ideas arise. Let’s look at another way to apply CD and ARA in a company or organization. The process for technical documentation can also follow the build/deploy/test/release pattern.
At Electric Cloud, the process to build and publish (deploy and release) technical documentation was manual and time-consuming. A typical documentation set for a software release consists of six targets. The build process is run through the authoring tool and can take up to 30 minutes to build only one target. During this time, the authoring tool cannot be used to edit other files, and the PC performance can be adversely affected. To publish the documentation, the technical writer has to manually push the file set for each target and keep track of the progress. The publishing process can take up to several hours, depending on the number of targets to publish, the number of files for each target, and the number of servers to which the targets will be published.
In this presentation, Jennifer will show how she modified her documentation workflow from doing things manually to having multiple documentation targets automated and publishing them to one or more sites. Jennifer will briefly describe the manual build and publish processes and how long it took to perform them as well as challenges of running this process consistently. Then she will describe and show how these processes were automated and summarize the improvements (spoiler alert: 50% speed up) resulting from it.
This is an example of thinking outside of the box when it comes to improving your documentation processes by implementing DevOps, a methodology usually used in software development and release. CD and ARA can be applied to processes used by enterprise teams as well as small teams or groups in other areas of your business. The implementations are similar – only the process details are different.
About Jennifer Chew
Jennifer Chew is a senior technical writer at Nuage Networks in Mountain View, CA. Prior to this, she worked at Electric Cloud, Juniper Networks, Cisco Systems, and IBM. She is always looking for ways to combine her engineering experience with her writing projects.
Date: Monday, April 17, 2017
Networking/social time: 6:00-7:00pm
Presentation time: 7:00-8:00pm+
Location: IHOP Restaurant, 4200 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA 95054
Note: You don’t have to be an official STC member to attend the meetings.