Documentation improvements

date:2018-01-08 22:00
tags:docs, user stories, walkthrough
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People are often confused when they deploy with openstack-ansible, because they only partially read the documentation, or landed on the wrong documentation.

Our deployment guide is already close to what I call a wizard/ walkthrough, but some parts are easily missed by the deployers.

On top of that, some very nice advanced documentation are often skipped, or aren’t promoted to their right value.

Problem description

When people land on our deployment guide, which is probably the first link they access, whether they come from the OpenStack deployment guides https://docs.openstack.org/pike/deploy/ or from our main developer page https://docs.openstack.org/openstack-ansible/latest/ , they are facing the following issues:

  • The landing page is overwhelming, as its a series of link. What do you click?
  • The first links clicked (example: https://docs.openstack.org/project-deploy-guide/openstack-ansible/pike/overview.html#) is just more clicks towards content, and doesn’t provide any useful information (the structure is already displayed on the left side of the page).
  • Anyone wanting to quickly deploy an openstack-ansible cloud has no way to know we have an AIO toolkit that could help.
  • Anyone wanting to deploy a production cluster with Netapp for example will most likely not find the appropriate documentation while reading the deploy guide: It’s easy to miss the importance of configuration on https://docs.openstack.org/project-deploy-guide/openstack-ansible/latest/configure.html#advanced-service-configuration
  • The AIO is listed in the “contributor” guides, where it could be available on any deployment part.
  • There is an hard to find “advanced configuration” section, hidden inside the operations guide. It should probably be an appendix of the deploy guide.
  • We have many overlaps of documentation doing about the same thing, we should clean things up (for example the advanced configurations in deploy + operations, the inventory in operations + contributors + reference)
  • There are too many appendices in the deploy guide. Some deserve their own section. According to the spec http://specs.openstack.org/openstack/docs-specs/specs/pike/os-manuals-migration.html, “end-user content such as concept guides, advice, tutorials, step-by-step instructions for using the CLI to perform specific tasks, etc.” I think we could technically move scenarios there, as they are step-by-step instructions using shell scripts to perform some specific deploys.
  • The role maturity is hard to find. If I were a new deployer, I’d like to know what I could do with OpenStack-Ansible, and the role maturity matrix would tremendously help. Sadly I’d never see it in my first read of the documentation.
  • The upgrade guide is our user guide. Why not considering upgrades as a specific kind of operation? In my opinion, it should be part of the operations guide, as a major chapter in the operations, in the same way as minor updates, or scaling the environment.
  • We don’t motivate people to contribute back directly from the deploy guide. The last step after verifying that the system works should be how to extend and contribute to OpenStack-Ansible.
  • People could be confused on how to best contribute to the project.

Proposed change

Have some kind of notice at the beginning of the deploy guide, pointing to our user stories (but advising to read the deploy guide first). The first user story would be the AIO, with the quickstart AIO content, for those who want devstack-like easiness, developers, or for those who want to prototype. Add more user stories into the user guide, for ceph (test, prod and ceph-ansible integration), for l3 routed scenarios (tests and prod), for offline installs.

Move advanced topics like inventory, container networking, custom layouts and security principles into a new “reference” section of the documentation. This section should probably hold the links to roles’ documentations, and should also be linked from the deploy guide where appropriate.

Highlight the importance, in the deploy guide, of our advanced topics (reference). It’s important for new deployers to know where to find documentation on how to do X that’s not part of a user guide.

At the end of the deploy guide, continue the deploy story by pointing to our operations and contributions guide. That could be added into a next steps section.

The contributors’ guide can also be enhanced by listing where the help is wanted: docs (and their manually testing, like for the operational guide), bugs (triaging and fixing the low hanging fruits), test coverage, … This section could be altered when the priorities change.

For improving the reading experience, ensure that each page has a proper structure: - Only content should appear in the content part of the page - The chapters should only be in the upper-left section of

the page ToC, and pointing to this guide chapters, not the whole documentation items (avoiding something like https://docs.openstack.org/openstack-ansible/latest/user/index.html)
  • The page headers should only be in the lower-left section of the page ToC.

Alternatives

Not changing the docs, or partially implementing those changes.

Playbook/Role impact

None

Upgrade impact

None

Security impact

None

Performance impact

None

End user impact

None

Deployer impact

New deployers should be less overwhelmed by Openstack-Ansible

Developer impact

None

Dependencies

None

Implementation

Assignee(s)

Primary assignee:
jean-philippe-evrard
Other contributors:
  • TODO

Work items

Each paragraph of the proposed change can be considered as a work item.

Testing

Nothing new.

Documentation impact

This is a docs only change, so this whole change has a documentation impact. However, because we don’t change the structure of the docs themselves, it should not be very difficult to implement.

References

This improvements only happen to improve our readability, and to follow what’s generally expected to find in each of the documentations: