I recently helped the NUnit docs team re-launch their documentation at https://docs.nunit.org. As the result of this effort, I have been been given – and accepted – an invitation to lead the NUnit docs project! I couldn’t be more excited to continue to foster learning and growth for a foundational and fundamental tool in the .NET ecosystem. With over 81 million total downloads on Nuget, we have a large community to support, and I don’t take that lightly.
I have some fun follow-up posts planned about making this happen, but I wanted to reflect a bit on some of the circumstances surrounding how this all came to be in case folks can take something away from the story.
Some background to this: I firmly believe that documentation matters for software that matters. I believe that contributing to documentation is a valuable (and too often overlooked) part of OSS.
If you’re ever looking to give back or say thanks to a project, check out whether they need some help on their docs.
Trying to be helpful
Giving back in small ways like this to projects I like or care about is something that gives me great joy, and also something that has opened up many opportunities for me.
After updating the analyzer docs, Chris Maddock noticed and posed a question about allowing pull requests to the docs.
This would be a large undertaking, but it was an exciting challenge to me. As part of the discussion, Chris asked if it would be too ambitious an undertaking. My answer? Opening a pull request to start the work and saying:
I suppose there’s only one way to find out if it’s too ambitious!
If there’s something that needs doing, and you’re able to start it, and you believe it could be helpful – why not start?
A labor of love
The first PR had 188 commits and changed 334 files. We then moved it to the docs repository and did another 50 commits.
As discussion continued, I formed backlog in GitHub issues and GitHub projects to track the work. That’s led to an additional 50+ pull requests and hundreds more commits.
Change is tedious, and we have to stick with it if things are going to happen. But seeing the new docs site auto-generated and knowing I’d helped form a game plan for the future was inspiring to me.
An unexpected surprise
It’s worth noting that I was attempting to improve one thing (the NUnit docs experience). I wasn’t aware that the team was looking for overall stewardship for their docs as a project. So when Charlie Poole reached out to me on behalf of the Core team to ask me to lead the docs project, I was very excited and accepted.
Making changes and offering help can create opportunities.
To be clear, I need acknowledge that my inspirational story contains immense privilege in terms of time and space to make these changes, a group who was willing to work with me, etc. etc. and these opportunities aren’t always afforded to everyone. My goal is to encourage everyone to try to the extent that they’re able.
Not me; us. (Jump in!)
Creating a phenomenal docs experience for NUnit can’t be done by one person; that’s one of the reasons it’s so exciting. I’m looking forward to laying out a vision and roadmap for the docs that hopefully resonates and inspires people to contribute. I’m also looking forward to making space to help others do so. My main goal with this opportunity is to further a community space for contributions that helps everyone using NUnit.
Do you have suggestions? Potential contributions? Thoughts on this? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to add a comment here or open an issue to start chatting. If you’re not quite there yet, you can also send me an e-mail and I’d be happy to talk with you there.