Improve usage of glossary in manuals

Improve usage of glossary in manuals

Include the URL of your launchpad blueprint:

There are 712 terms defined in the glossary. There are 165 references to the glossary terms throughout the openstack-manuals repo.

The glossary exists to explain terms in the context of OpenStack, so that users don’t have to look up terms that they are unfamiliar with and try to fit it back into the right context.

This is only useful if:

  • users can easily access the glossary (i.e. link to glossary in docs).
  • the glossary is not over burdened with acrynoms or terms that are not specific to OpenStack

Problem description

OpenStack is a large project, with many different components and use cases. One major issue that people have when trying to set up OpenStack is that there are so many moving parts and different use cases. People trying to deploy, configure and use OpenStack aren’t necessarily going to be familiar with all the components, technologies or terminology associated with OpenStack.

There is a glossary which accompanies the OpenStack manuals, which provides definitions for many of these terms. However, there is relatively little reference to this useful resource in the manuals, so users/deployers may not be aware of the existance of the glossary, and spend time looking up these new terms only to have to fit them back into the context of OpenStack, which might be a new concept to them. This can lead to OpenStack being perceived as difficult to grasp, and hard to ramp up on.

Proposed change

The proposed change would add links to glossary terms in the manuals so that users can easily access descriptions of unfamiliar terms within the context of OpenStack. This is so that users have a better experience and can come to terms with OpenStack terminology quicker than if they had to look up the term and figure out how it relates to/is used in OpenStack.

There are two step in this process (with multiple sub steps):

  • Remove acronyms/generic terms
  • Link terms from the glossary to the books

Step 1: remove acronyms/generic terms

The first step is removing unnecessary terms from the glossary. In order to achieve that, we’d need to decide what the unnecessary terms were. This is likely to be time consuming in terms of reviews. In terms of proposed removals, the suggested method is:

  • Identify criteria for removal:
    • Acronyms
    • Generic terms (terms defined in the glossary should include HOW they are
      related to OpenStack)
  • Propose patches for each set of criteria in alphabetical chunks: - e.g. [glossary] Remove acronyms [A-B]

Acronyms are the easiest place to start.

An acronym shouldn’t have a definition of it’s own, it should be part of the relevant entry:

# Good entry, the commonly used acronym is included in the entry heading
IP Address Management (IPAM)
The process of ....

# this entry is bad because it just expands the acronym
Initial Program Loader.

An entry that passes the first test doesn’t necessarily get through on round two, but it keeps things clean as the content is refactored.

For determining generic terms to remove, valid terms must be defined. Any term falling outside the criteria of valid is up for removal.

A valid term is:

  • Specfic to OpenStack e.g. tenant, project, compute node

    This is a term that doesn’t exist or is used in a different way outside of OpenStack.

  • Codename for a project e.g. nova, neutron, keystone

    In these cases, the code name is the entry, and the service is not:

    # This is an unnecessary entry, because the term readers would be looking
    # for is Trove, not database service
    Database Service
    ... The project name of Database service is trove.
    • In most occurances, the service name/code name can be combined into a larger entry.
  • Generic terms, defined in the context of its usage in OpenStack

  • Supported technologies are not valid, as this would be clear from the manuals where it is mentioned (same is true for drivers)

    • Exception: the technology is used in a non-standard way
  • Litmus test: Will an internet search return the same information?:

    # Bad - technology used in OpenStack, in a standard way
    An open source SQL toolkit for Python, used in OpenStack.

Step 2: Link terms from the glossary to the books

The second part of this change is to make sure the glossary is used. This step links relevant terms from the manuals to the glossary entries. This can be done on a per-book basis in the following way (depending on the size of the book and the number of terms):

  • Iterate through the glossary terms and determine whether they are used in the book

  • Group the terms into managable chunks:

    [glossary] admin-guide links [A-D]
  • Only the first occurance in a chapter should be linked

Review process

For straightforward reviews, each set of changes is proposed for removal. If there are any contentious terms, these will be removed from the main review, and proposed individually, so that most of the work can take place as quickly as possible, and not get blocked because there are strong opinions about an exceptional term.



In this case, all the parts are present, but they have to be better connected/accessible.



Primary assignee:
Other contributors:

Work Items

  • Clean up the glossary
    • Remove acronyms
    • Remove unnecessary/generic terms
  • Improve usage of the glossary
    • Add links to each book




No additional testing should be required.

The ability to check if a glossary term exists is already present, and can be used to ensure that there are no invalid links.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Except where otherwise noted, this document is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. See all OpenStack Legal Documents.