Open Mic Spotlight: Anne Gentle

annegentlesquareThis post is part of the OpenStack Open Mic series to spotlight the people who have helped make OpenStack successful as we celebrate the third birthday of the project. Each day in July, a new contributor will step up to the mic and answer five questions about OpenStack, cloud, careers and what they do for fun.  

Anne Gentle works on the OpenStack project as a Content Stacker, collaborating on community documentation so that any organization can offer cloud computing capabilities using open source software. 

1. How do you describe OpenStack to your parents?

Honestly, I haven’t had to explain OpenStack in depth to my parents. My dad is an engineer and definitely influenced my interest in technology, bringing home all sorts of gadgets from work including a four-color pen plotter that filled up half our living room. My parents just know I’m working on an open source project where I get to experiment with community documentation. They also know I’m a Racker, and that we have a corporate office made from a repurposed suburban mall in San Antonio. When I explain my job to my siblings or friends, I just say cloud computing is like paying for electricity — you get what you need when you need it and pay for it as you go. Then they ask me what city I am traveling next with just a hint of jealousy in their voice.

2. What comment(s) have you received from users that made your proud of your work? When have you felt best about your work?

Once I went to a happy hour in Austin for a group of people getting training at Rackspace, and sat next to an ordinary man, who was attending the training. I introduced myself as the OpenStack documentation coordinator, and got the nicest response. At least I am going to take it that way. It was, “Thanks for trying to do the impossible.” I felt best about the API doc work after the Compute team documented about 90-some Compute API extensions  on the API reference site at http://api.openstack.org/api-ref.html. We are constantly trying to improve the end-user information for OpenStack and believe me, it’s not an easy or simple task.

3. What other OpenStack developers deserve a shout out for the work they’re doing in the community? Who are our unsung heroes? Your own?

Speaking of unsung heroes, I try to give shout-outs to doc contributors in my attempt-at-weekly update to the Openstack-docs mailing list. One shout-out I gave last year was to a guy named Josh in Iowa who took it upon himself to write an OpenStack glossary on the OpenStack wiki. With his permission I brought it into the docs repository for re-use across a bunch of documents as needed. It was as if it appeared out of thin air. I also agree with others who have said the translation teams are unsung heroes. Thanks to IBM and Daisy, Ying Chun Guo, we have a full documentation translation tool chain which she put together in about a year’s time. Having worked on internationalization projects for documentation in enterprise software companies in the past, I know that’s lightning fast to get from nothing to automation in 12 months. Daisy has been tireless in her efforts and definitely should be thanked for her efforts.

4. What are the essentials for someone just getting started with OpenStack? Sites? Books? Conferences? People?

I really like the voice and readability of the OpenStack Operations Guide, it’s knowledgeable yet approachable. You can find it at http://docs.openstack.org/ops.

Lately I feel it’s essential to attend an OpenStack Summit. My fellow Racker David Cramer who maintains our doc build tool worked on our doc tools for about 2 years before attending an OpenStack Summit. Once he went to the Portland Summit, he understood more about the community, the high stakes, and the hard work we have ahead of us. I introduced David to the Infrastructure team, a few coremudgeons as they’d like to be called, and I think that helped him form next steps for integrating even more with OpenStack’s way of working. Because OpenStack work really has a “way” of collaborating that can surprise even those familiar with open source due to it’s size, scope, and fast evolution.

5. What was your first commit or contribution and why did you make it?

Wow, I had to look on Launchpad to see what it was. It was fixing a typo in the Swift docs, on September 21, 2010. On the Getting Started page, development was spelled developemnt and I fixed it with https://code.launchpad.net/~annegentle/swift/lp644420. I made it because I was hired to coordinate and update OpenStack documentation. At the time we just had a Swift doc site, the Nova one didn’t really exist until the Bexar Summit if my memory serves me correctly. Wow we have come a long ways in three years. We now maintain over 30 individual “documents” for OpenStack documentation, whether it’s an API site, a dev docs site, or a book and web site.

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