23 March, 2010
Filed under Documentation

Exactly one month from now, a team of CiviCRM developers, implementors and users will sprint to update 'Understanding CiviCRM: A Guide for Non-profits'. We've heard from lots of folks that to have this free online book as a learning resource is really important. And we're pretty excited about this sprint, especially given the amount we achieved last time.

There is lots to update and improve and we'd like your input to make the new version of the book as useful as possible to you. There are a few ways in which you can help now.

  • Feedback to us on the current book. What did you like and what wasn't so good. What bits were missing, and what was unnecessary or confusing? Please add your comments on the book sprint wiki page.
  • Volunteer to help remotely during the sprint. If you can't join us for the sprint, there are still ways...
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15 May, 2009
Filed under Documentation

Lunch time of day two stands out as a high point of the book sprint. We'd spent the first day working relatively independently - brain-dumping the chapters about areas of CiviCRM that we knew the best and by Tuesday, it was clear the chapters making up our introductory section needed a re-think.

Trying to get co-herence on five chapters written by five people sounded pretty daunting at the time, and I wasn't sure how we were going to get there. But after 15 minutes or so of intense talking over what we'd written, our experiences, and what we were trying to acheive, the answer came down from the ether. We realised we could split the section nicely down the lines of 'before you chose CiviCRM' and 'after you choose CiviCRM'. Armed with this, restructuring was a relative breeze.

These 'meetings' happened again and again during the sprint, and although the the outcomes might sound obvious in retrospect, I'm sure they wouldn't have been as easily come by (if they were...

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14 May, 2009
By lcdweb
Filed under Documentation

Last week I had the privilege of joining 10 other CiviCRM enthusiasts, along with a facilitator (Adam Hyde from FLOSS Manuals) for the CiviCRM Book Sprint. It was a fantastic experience on many different levels. More than anything else, it was great to meet in person and interact face-to-face with members of the core team and active members in the community—many of whom I’ve had forum-based contact with for several years.

In between (and often during) the writing, I had great opportunity to talk through how people have used and implemented CiviCRM, enriching my own understanding of the software and the possible capabilities it provides.

Both those discussions and the writing process itself made me appreciate even more how robust and flexible CiviCRM can be in meeting the diverse needs of non-profit organizations. As each chapter went through revisions, each reviewer brought their experience of how the software...

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11 May, 2009
Filed under Documentation
The Book Sprint is over - and we met our goal: Zero to Book in 5 days. Reflecting on the process, I am incredibly moved by the dedication and commitment which everyone on the sprint team brought to the process. People came together with a rich mix of experience and perspectives - and an amazing spirit of collaboration. It was a personal honor for me to be a member of this incredible team! You can read the book online (in your browser) at: >> http://en.flossmanuals.net/civicrm and you can download a PDF version of the complete book by clicking the Make PDF icon in the upper left corner of that screen. I am quite hopeful that this book will be a great resource both for current members of the CiviCRM community and for people who are evaluating whether CiviCRM might be a useful tool for their organizations. Please post your feedback and suggestions on the ... Read more
07 May, 2009
By michal
Filed under CiviCRM, Documentation
Third day behind, pages count is 148 and raising. Actually, if we consider final format (size of pages) of the book, it would have 215 pages right now, but I'm using the count from temporarily generated PDF for sake of consistency with previous page count announcements from blog posts on day 1 and 2. Anyway, we started traditionally at 9 and banged our keyboards until lunch. Since weather continues to improve, today's choice for lunch place was Donner Camp, with beautiful view over Donner Lake. Sitting in front of computer screens for almost 3 days makes bodies accumulate a lot of readiness to move around, so some of us quickly came up with new extreme sport, swamp frisbee. Very similar to regular flying disc entertainment, it just requires two modifications: needs to be happening on swamp and requires improvised frisbee equipment (since we didn't have regular one). Fun times passed very quickly and we came back for some more writing.... Read more
06 May, 2009
By michal
Filed under CiviCRM, Documentation

Second day of the sprint behind - manual pages count is now 117. We started at 9am as day before and continued writing until lunch. When we were sleeping, our off-site editor Andy came through a few chapters and introduced quite a lot of propositions, remarks and edits - so it was not only writing new text, but also integrating fixes to whatever was written so far. Second day was also the first one when off-site authors started contributing their chunks of text to the book.

Last few days were quite rainy and cloudy in Tahoe, but on second sprint day the sun showed up just in time for having lunch outside. After short break we came together again and started our first review of the manual as a whole - everyone reported back on work so far, some good discussions happened on what should still be included in existing chapters, how chapters flow together and so on. After that we split into two groups that had separate conversations on how to combine some existing parts of the...

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05 May, 2009
By michal
Filed under CiviCRM, Documentation

Wow - to me personally, the first day of Book Sprint was quite a surprise. I knew there is a really cool and knowledgeable group of people here, and I also knew that getting away from everyday work really helps with focusing, but I just couldn't guess how productive this day will be. We gathered a few minutes after 9, Adam gave us an overview of Flossmanuals tools to get everyone up to speed, we claimed our chapters and started writing. First part of the day was pretty silent, only the sound of ferocious typing could have been heard.

The simple rule is - when you get tired with what you currently write about, take a rest or switch to writing something else. If you are unsure about the scope of your paragraph, ask others, have a little talk. As we were going further in our writing, more and more "synchronisation talks" were happening, people started peer reviewing their writing and brainstorming over different ideas.

Dinner...

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04 May, 2009
By michal
Filed under CiviCRM, Documentation

Long awaited day came - a bunch of good folks from CiviCRM Community arrived to Truckee to work on CiviCRM book! Some of us have been hanging out in San Francisco for some time already, attending NTEN and CiviCRM Developer and User Meetups, some of us arrived only today. First item of business was finalising book outline so that we can be ready to do actual writing on Monday morning. The outline looks quite detailed, but also realistic - it seems like it will be a busy week, but we should be enjoying the effects on Friday.

Stay tuned for news on the book - new information will be showing up on Twitter, as well as on #flossmanuals and #civicrm channels on IRC.

P.S. Doesn't look like the cover will be looking like anticipated. :-)

02 May, 2009
Filed under Documentation

A quick reminder that the week long CiviCRM book sprint starts this Monday and you're welcome to participate by writing, reading and commenting on chapters and sections.

We'll be using the Floss manuals infrastructure. The best way start is by saying hello in the IRC chatroom which is available on the Floss manuals site or via an IRC client at #flossmanuals on irc.freenode.net.

08 April, 2009
Filed under Documentation

Dave Greenberg recently posted about our upcoming book sprint saying "almost every week folks ask whether there is a CiviCRM Book they can read".

So there must be something missing from the documentation. And given that the book will be in addition to what is on the Wiki - not a replacement for it - the two questions I am asking myself are:

'What are we missing in the documentation? And how should the documentation and the book complement each other?'

Here is my initial answer:

'If the documentation is a hands on quick reference where you go to find the answer to a specific question, then the book is the tool that enables you to make effective use of the documentation. It contains all those things you to keep in mind when using (or deciding to use) CiviCRM; the advice and best practices; details of the some of the challenges you may face; the questions you need to ask yourself to get the most out of your CiviCRM installation.'

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