Developing documentation remotely

With the COVID-19 virus pandemic changing the way companies apply work from home policies, a Docs-as-Code approach to documentation facilitates remote collaboration on a larger scale.

Using GitLab or GitHub as a documentation development tool helps technical writers and SMEs work together on complex documentation - regardless of location.

The theory behind this suggests that we treat a document as a piece of code (or text). In software development we have DevOps: a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and information-technology operations (Ops) that aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality.1

By replacing software as the core output of DevOps with documentation, we now have a docs-as-code approach that leverages all the same developer-centric tools and workflows to champion rapid and decentralized documentation development. Storing documentation directly inside a GitLab environment proves the easiest way to do this. We can then start using functions such as:

  • Issue trackers / Kanban boards to drive content development
  • Branching and merging to handle a near unlimited number of collaborators
  • Version control to ensure ISO and internal compliance
  • Organizational wide text search to find content
  • Enterprise level scalability and reducing the number if IT systems to manage
  • Organizational wide snippets and single sourced content to ensure consistent content
  • Templating and the ability to make changes instantly across all documents - for when names and important changes at an organizational level
  • Automatic release and deployment to online portals

Combining this with a strong text based and open source documentation tool such as Sphinx, we have a free, scalable and powerful documentation management system.


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