Documenting DeanSpace

· Music

So much for downtime. My FrontPage book is in the can (but still needs a website), and the revision of my Dreamweaver book proceeds a pace, ably handled for the most part by my new coauthor, Lucinda Dykes. My next major project is more than a month a away.
Mostly I’ve been writing fiction lately, but I’ve also been looking for ways to get involved in the upcoming presidential campagin and I’ve decided to support Dean in the Democratic primaries, so I went to the #deanspace irc channel at freenode.net a while back and ran into Zach Rosen, one of the key techies in the campaign’s Burlington, VT, headquarters, and offered my services.
Zach tells me that what they really need help with is documentation for the DeanSpace software, an adaptation of the open-source Drupal community weblog application.
I had been meaning to try DeanSpace out lately. There’s an East Bay for Dean website but no Oakland for Dean site yet, so I figured that was a good one to launch and also use as a testbed. (I could also help the eb4dean people migrate to DeanSpace at some point if they want to – they aren’t using weblog software yet and have no RSS feed, I believe, although they’re making very good use of email alerts so far.)
One of the key reasons why the Dean campaign is offering DeanSpace is to bake the syndication right in. Dean sites are welcome to use any content management system (CMS) they want, but if they can generate a syndicated feed and especially if they can republish incoming feeds selectively or automatically (as you can do with Radio, as I do at Mediajunkie), then the potential for weaving together the various nodes of the Dean campaign grassroots online presence grows exponentially.
So, here’s my plan:

  1. Install the current DeanSpace version (0.95) and set up oaklandfordean.org with it, noting any problems or questions that arise during the process.
  2. Study the current documentation and look for areas in need of improvement or supplementing. I figure we need a glossary, a feature reference, and a series of illustrated step-by-step tutorials, also probably a FAQ, a troubleshooting guide, and a place for users to ask questions on an ongoing basis.
  3. Introduce myself to the people already working on the documentation, learn what their priorities are, and find ways to be of service to the overall process.
  4. Start writing, editing, and proofreading.

If any RFB readers have experience installing DeanSpace or Drupal or have questions about this kind of CMS, please feel free let me know, ask questions, make suggestions.