Developer Advocacy/Developer Portal

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Problem[edit]

"Upon arriving on the MediaWiki and Wikitech home pages, I was instantly lost." -- Ashwin Bhumbla

"MediaWiki documentation is not only infamously incomplete, but also terribly scattered." -- Waldyrious

Wikimedia has many potential entrance places for developers interested in certain technical areas. Based on conversations on Project:Support desk, mailing lists, IRC, Phabricator, in outreach programs, etc., some technical contributors have a hard time finding the information and key technical documents that they are interested in.

Some documentation should be more discoverable, some documentation is dispersed or duplicated across several websites, some of our documentation is outdated, some of our technology areas could be more discoverable.

Goal[edit]

Starting in 2020, the Developer Advocacy team works on an organization strategy for key technical documents: Understand challenges about finding and maintaining docs, identify key docs, and investigate ways to improve our workflows around documentation.

One tangible outcome of this initiative will be a central and single entry point ("developer portal") which links to our key technical documents.

This will allow existing and future technical contributors and developers to:

  • Find the information which they need to achieve a certain task
  • Discover available tools and technologies
  • Learn how to get started in Wikimedia technical areas

Further outcomes include checking the documents linked from the single entry point proposal for accuracy, and investigating improvements of processes around technical documentation.

Timeline[edit]

Note that this timeline is not final.

  • Jul 2020‒Sep 2020: Announce project; set up wiki page Yes Done
  • Oct 2020‒Feb 2021: First iteration: Explorative conversations with a sample of stakeholders (WMF/WMDE) to identify use cases and identify key technical documents to link, understand workflows, and gather technology areas (phab:T260984) Yes Done
  • Jan 2021‒Mar 2021: Review of single entry points of other projects and organizations (phab:T260987) Yes Done
  • Mar 2021‒Apr 2021: Analysis of exploratory conversations, leading to key themes and to a content proposal for a single entry point Yes Done
  • May 2021: Publication of key themes identified in exploratory conversations: #Key themes from conversations Yes Done
  • May 2021: Publication of a content proposal (prototype) for an initial single entry point: Developer_Advocacy/Developer_Portal/Content_Draft Yes Done
  • May 2021: Call for review and feedback by the broader community (phab:T260985) of the prototype at Developer_Advocacy/Developer_Portal/Content_Draft/Feedback In progress In progress
  • May 2021‒Jun 2021: Discussion, identification, and incorporation of potential improvements to the prototype
  • ≥Jul 2021: Correctness checks of content linked from the prototype
  • ≥Jan 2022: Investigate requirements for the technical implementation of a single entrance point, based on the prototype
  • ≥Jan 2022: Conversations on potential improvement of processes around key technical documents (structure, locations, navigation, stewardship, etc), by potentially utilizing the Documentation/Maturity model for MediaWiki technical documentation to improve practices and processes.
See the Wikimedia-Developer-Portal Phab project and its workboard for more details and future plans (more info about Phab).

Key themes from conversations[edit]

This is a summary from the explorative conversations with a sample of stakeholders (WMF/WMDE) in Oct 2020‒Feb 2021.

  • Wikimedia has a large variety of programming languages and technology areas. Documentation in many of these could benefit from more visibility.
  • Audiences: A clear understanding of the audiences for technology areas helps write more focused docs and consumers get more relevant information.
  • Stewardship: Tech writers serve as the main contact for technical documentation. In the absence of technical writers, stewardship of documentation is ad-hoc.
  • Stewardship: Defining stewards for specific technical areas and processes for task assignees or code reviewers to review related documentation improves correctness and completeness of documentation.
  • Coherence: Guidelines and recommendations on naming and structuring documentation would help documentation writers and maintainers.
  • Coherence: Guidelines on which content should be hosted on which sites would help reach the target audiences and avoid duplication of content.
  • Common knowledge: Clarifying (and potentially expanding) the set of shared public documentation to be considered relevant for a wide range of technical contributors could help improve accuracy and completeness of documentation.
  • Code proximity: The closer technical documentation is to the code that it covers, the more likely the related documentation can be located and updated.

Previous plans, thoughts and research[edit]

This list includes historical attempts to establish either some high-level developer documentation hub or holistic approaches to improve cross-project documentation. This list is not about specific content itself.

Existing high-level entry points[edit]

This list is not about specific technology areas but common landing points, either by domain or by links often pointed out to interested newcomer developers.