User Experience Insights
Open Documentation Initiative Interview: Jens Haley
Better together! With the Open Documentation contribution process, you can now give feedback to the SAP Integration Suite documentation on SAP Help Portal. Meet one of the people behind the overall initiative! Today: Jens Haley.
Please introduce yourself. Who are you and what do you do at SAP?
I started at SAP as a Technical Writer in 1998. My current role is User Assistance Development Architect, which is a fancy way of saying that I seek to improve processes and tools for writers, so that they can create better documentation for our customers. The Open Documentation Initiative is my latest project.
Can you explain what the Open Documentation Initiative is?
We would like to collect feedback for our standard documentation on SAP Help Portal through GitHub. Developers work with GitHub anyway, so it seems natural to use GitHub for such a collaboration process. “Collaboration” means that there is really a two-way communication possible between writers and SAP-external developers. We just follow the already existing GitHub process that is well-known to developers. The cool thing is that they also can make contributions using pull requests to help others in the SAP community who may have problems following the documentation as well.
For how many services is the collaboration process available and when will the entire SAP Help Portal be covered?
Our focus is on documentation deliverables that are targeted at developers, so we’re not going to enable all content on SAP Help Portal for the Open Documentation Initiative. By now, we have eight guides onboard, but we want to extend this to the most popular SAP BTP (Business Technology Platform) services and new BTP services. To onboard service documentation, we need to comply to SAP’s open-source policy and set up the external-facing repository in a way that the collaboration process runs smoothly. You can follow our progress by checking the number of repositories on github.com with the topic open-documentation-initiative.
Does that mean that SAP is going to write its entire developer documentation in GitHub?
No. GitHub will neither become a new Help Portal, nor a new content management system. I don’t see GitHub’s strengths in content management; GitHub is a versioning system, not a content management system. But what we all can clearly see is that GitHub has great collaboration capabilities that allow us to discuss issues in detail across locations. For the Open Documentation Initiative, GitHub is a parallel channel for collaboration.
If I were a developer, why would I provide feedback? What if I am not a developer?
The charm of the initiative is that you can discuss problems with the documentation owner. I assembled an IKEA wardrobe at the weekend, and I wished I could have discussed some parts of their documentation that let us run in many circles before we succeeded in installing both sliding doors. With GitHub, communication goes both ways, so we can clarify the problem. If you find a solution by yourself, even better: Make a contribution and earn a badge in the SAP community. For the future, we plan to add your GitHub avatar to the Help Portal pages you contributed to, which gives you more visibility. If you’re not a developer, and if you don’t like GitHub, you can still provide feedback anonymously.