Open source documentation has been around for a long time. Over time there have been changes in both technology and perspectives regarding authoring and publishing. Open Source brought this information to our attention in their article, “5 trends in open source documentation.”

The latest trends move documentation closer to code, and within those are some larger themes. This article takes a look at two. These days most GNOME documentation is written in Mallard and stored in a Git repository. Although formats and tools have changed, the constant factor is that sources are stored in revision control, just like code.

It certainly isn’t new, but a few things have changed, and some of that revolves around what Git is bringing to the game. Documentation writers are increasingly proficient at creating development, staging and production branches, and merging disparate contributions. Git may not be the only decentralized version control system, but it has taken the majority of the share.

Another interesting find involves generating static sites. Five years ago, the trend was to use wikis and blogging platforms to create documentation sites. Now the trend is to keep sources in version control, then build and publish sites with mostly static HTML files. One reason static sites are more popular is that source hosting sites are easier to use, and a growing number of technical people use them.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.