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Write the Docs: software documentation conference

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It’s a community that I am a part of by default, as Documentation Manager and Copyeditor for Adestra Ltd, but I had yet to be involved.

So, off I flew to Prague to meet my peers for the first time!

I arrived on the Sunday to get involved in a writing day, a space where projects could be worked on by anyone who thought they’d be able to contribute.

I was immediately surprised by the number of people getting involved but also the diversity of attendees; it seems it’s not just technical writers who care about documentation, but also customer support, developers, marketers and more.

The conference proper occurred over the next two days. Talks ranged from writing in your non-native language and how fictional writing can help you with documentation to the importance of mental health and the automation of doc processes.

The variety of talks and calibre of speakers (Google, Mozilla and Atlassian were all represented!) meant everyone could take something away.

Being my first conference and first chance to hear from more experience writers and developers, I made sure to make notes – which, luckily, I could still read when I made it back home!

But the organisers knew that people have questions and ideas themselves too, and so unconference spaces were set up, lightning talks made available and plenty of time was spare to have a chinwag over copious amounts of coffee and snacks.

It was in these chats that I got the most ideas and advice. I was discovering how other companies implement documentation, the questions they find themselves asking, the ways in which they create relationships with other departments, and any tips and tricks they have to make writing quicker and more functional.

It’s not all work though.

Monday evening was a chance for us to get away from docs and taste the Czech beer next to the Charles Bridge. It was also a chance for me to get to know my peers a bit better and find out where they were all from.

Write the Docs Europe has now been running three years and it certainly has a following, with community members coming from all over the UK, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, the US and even Australia.

I consider myself very lucky to have attended this year’s conference. I’ve learnt a lot, have already started implementing some ideas and had the chance to meet my peers.

It also gave me the chance to realise that, unsurprisingly, we all face or have faced the same challenges. So I now know I’m not alone and if I need, that I can reach out to a fantastically supportive and engaged community.

Pictures courtesy of Kay Smoljak and Write the Docs

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