Tag Archives: technical writing

Announcing Season of Docs 2022

Google Open Source is delighted to announce Season of Docs 2022!

The Season of Docs program supports better documentation in open source and provides opportunities for skilled technical writers to gain open source experience. 

Participating projects receive funds to create, improve, or expand their documentation, while contributing to our knowledge of effective metrics for evaluating open source documentation through their shared case studies.

About the program

Season of Docs allows open source organizations to apply for a grant based on their documentation needs. If selected, the open source organizations use their grant to hire a technical writer directly to complete their documentation project. Organizations have up to six months to complete their documentation project.


Participating organizations help broaden our understanding of effective documentation practices and metrics in open source by submitting a final case study upon completion of the program. The case study should outline the problem the documentation project was intended to solve, what metrics were used to judge the effectiveness of the documentation, and what the organization learned for the future. All project case studies will be published on the Season of Docs site at the end of the program.

Organizations: start your exploration engines

2022 Season of Docs applications open February 23, 2022. We strongly suggest that organizations take the time to complete the steps in the exploration phase before the application process begins, including:

  • Creating a project page to gauge community and technical writer interest in participating (see our project ideas page for examples)
  • Publicizing your interest in participating in Season of Docs through your project channels and adding your project to our list of interested projects on GitHub
  • Lining up community members who are interested in mentoring or helping to onboard technical writers to your project
  • Brainstorming requirements for technical writers to work on your project (Will they need to be able to test code? Work with video? Have prior experience with your project or related technologies?)

On your mark, get set, project page!

Every Season of Docs project begins with a project page. Your project page serves as an overview of your documentation project, and it should be publicly visible. A good project page includes:
  • A statement of the problem your project needs to solve (“users on Windows don’t have clear guidance of how to install our project”)
  • The documentation that might solve this problem (“We want to create a quickstart doc and installation guide for Windows users”)
  • How you’ll measure the success of your documentation (“With a good quickstart, we expect to see 50% fewer issues opened about Windows installation problems.”)
  • What skills your technical writer would need (break down into “must have” and “nice to have” categories. “Must have: access Windows machine to test instructions”)
  • What volunteer help is needed from community members (“need help onboarding technical writer to our discussion groups”) and links to where the community can discuss the proposal
  • Most importantly, include a way for interested technical writers to reach you and ask questions!

Technical writers: express your interest

Technical writers interested in working with accepted open source organizations can share their contact information via the Season of Docs GitHub repository; or they may submit proposals directly to the organizations using the contact information shared on the organization project page. Technical writers do not submit a formal application through Season of Docs.

General timeline

February 23 - March 25

Open source organizations apply to take part in Season of Docs.

April 14

Google publishes the list of accepted organizations, along with their project proposals and doc development can begin.

June 15

Organization administrators begin to submit monthly evaluations to report on the status of their project.

November 30

Organization administrators submit their case study and final project evaluation.

December 14

Google publishes the 2021 case studies and aggregate project data.

May 2, 2023

Organizations begin to participate in post-program followup surveys.    

See the full program timeline for more details.

Join us

Explore the Season of Docs website at g.co/seasonofdocs to learn more about participating in the program. Use our logo and other promotional resources to spread the word. Check out the timeline and FAQ, and get ready to apply!


By Kassandra Dhillon and Erin McKean, Google Open Source Programs Office

Life after Season of Docs


My journey to technical writing involved a long, windy, and non-linear career path. Before I became a technical writer, I spent years working in finance jobs with a stint of teaching in between. Seeking a career change, I went back to university where I came across the Technical Writing certificate program. It was the perfect fit for my skills and interests.

One of Google’s technical writers, Nicole Yap, visited my class to talk about her career, and introduce Season of Docs—a program that brings technical writers and open source projects together to work on open source documentation. My interest was piqued as it seemed like a great opportunity for a new graduate. With no real world experience of writing documentation, I applied and was accepted into Season of Docs. I worked with Oppia, an online learning platform for a 3-month project, where I created a user guide with video tutorials.

During that time, I had to quickly become familiar with many new concepts:
  • Open source philosophy
  • Writing docs-as-code
  • Command-line basics
  • Submitting and amending pull requests on GitHub, and much more!
In the course of the Season of Docs program, I got my first full time job as a technical writer at a software company in Toronto. Juggling the demands of the project and my new job was challenging, but I was grateful for the experience as I could transfer the skills I learned to the new role. 

Opening doors to new experiences

I had such a positive experience working with my mentors1 at Oppia that we mutually agreed to extend our relationship. Over the next year, I continued to work with Oppia in different capacities—copywriting, editing, helping write math lessons—while getting to know the network of international volunteers who contribute to this incredible organization.

I also had the opportunity to present a talk at a Write the Docs Toronto meetup which was a great way to plug Season of Docs, and demonstrate what I had learnt during the program. There was quite a bit of interest from the audience as many hadn’t even heard of the program before.

My Season of Docs experience also helped me with my day job as a technical writer. After experiencing the steep learning curve with Oppia, I was able to hit the ground running with learning the new job processes at the software company. I was also able to fall back on my Season of Docs experience as I created marketing and technical videos in my new job as well.

A new opportunity

At the start of 2021, I had the opportunity to apply for a technical writing position at Google. I had the notion that a company like Google would require years of tech writing experience before they would even consider my application, but that turned out not to be true. I’ve been a technical writer at Google for four months now, and it still feels a bit surreal!

As a newcomer in the tech world, I find that everything I learned during the Season of Docs program has come in handy in helping me understand my job a little better. Getting into Season of Docs as a new entrant to the field of technical writing was a confidence-booster for me, and the path it led to has been challenging yet gratifying. I’m excited to continue learning every single day from the sea of talent around me.


By Audrey Tavares – Google Cloud


  1. The current Season of Docs program format does not have a defined mentor role, but technical writers in the program work closely with project contributors to learn open source skills.  




Season of Docs announces results of 2021 program


Season of Docs has announced the 2021 program results for all projects. You can view a list of successfully completed projects on the website along with their case studies.
In 2021, the Season of Docs program allowed open source organizations to apply for a grant based on their documentation needs. Selected open source organizations then used their grant to hire a technical writer directly to complete their desired documentation project. Organizations then had six months to complete their documentation project. (In previous years, Google matched technical writers to projects and paid the technical writers directly.)

The 2021 Season of Docs documentation development phase began on April 16 and ended November 16, 2021 for all projects:
  • 30 open source organizations finished their projects (100% completion)
  • 93% of organizations had a positive experience
  • 96% of the technical writers had a positive experience
Take a look at the list of completed projects to see the wide range of subjects covered!

What is next?

Stay tuned for information about Season of Docs 2022—watch for posts on this blog and sign up for the announcements email list. We’ll also be sharing information about best practices in open source technical writing derived from the Season of Docs case studies.

If you were excited about participating, please do write social media posts. See the promotion and press page for images and other promotional materials you can include, and be sure to use the tag #SeasonOfDocs when promoting your project on social media. To include the tech writing and open source communities, add #WriteTheDocs, #techcomm, #TechnicalWriting, and #OpenSource to your posts.


By Kassandra Dhillon and Erin McKean, Google Open Source Programs Office

Season of Docs announces results of 2021 program


Season of Docs has announced the 2021 program results for all projects. You can view a list of successfully completed projects on the website along with their case studies.
In 2021, the Season of Docs program allowed open source organizations to apply for a grant based on their documentation needs. Selected open source organizations then used their grant to hire a technical writer directly to complete their desired documentation project. Organizations then had six months to complete their documentation project. (In previous years, Google matched technical writers to projects and paid the technical writers directly.)

The 2021 Season of Docs documentation development phase began on April 16 and ended November 16, 2021 for all projects:
  • 30 open source organizations finished their projects (100% completion)
  • 93% of organizations had a positive experience
  • 96% of the technical writers had a positive experience
Take a look at the list of completed projects to see the wide range of subjects covered!

What is next?

Stay tuned for information about Season of Docs 2022—watch for posts on this blog and sign up for the announcements email list. We’ll also be sharing information about best practices in open source technical writing derived from the Season of Docs case studies.

If you were excited about participating, please do write social media posts. See the promotion and press page for images and other promotional materials you can include, and be sure to use the tag #SeasonOfDocs when promoting your project on social media. To include the tech writing and open source communities, add #WriteTheDocs, #techcomm, #TechnicalWriting, and #OpenSource to your posts.


By Kassandra Dhillon and Erin McKean, Google Open Source Programs Office

Season of Docs announces participating organizations for 2021

Season of Docs has announced the participating open source organizations for 2021! You can view the list of participating organizations on the website.

During the documentation development phase, which runs from now until November 16, 2021, each accepted organization will work with the technical writer they hire to complete their documentation project.

For more information about the documentation development phase, visit the organization administrator guide on the website.

What is Season of Docs?

Season of Docs supports documentation in open source by:
  • Providing funds to open source organizations to use for documentation projects
  • Providing guides and support for open source organizations to help them understand their documentation needs
  • Collecting data from open source organizations to better understand documentation impact
  • Publishing case studies from open source organizations to share best practices
Season of Docs seeks to empower open source organizations to understand their documentation needs, to create documentation to fill those needs, to measure the effect and impact of their documentation, and, in the spirit of open source, share what they've learned to help guide other projects. Season of Docs also seeks to bring more technical writers into open source through funding their work with open source projects and organizations.

How do I take part in Season of Docs as a technical writer?

Technical writers interested in working with accepted open source organizations can share their contact information via the Season of Docs GitHub repository; or they may submit a statement of interest directly to the organizations. Technical writers do not need to submit a formal application through Season of Docs. We recommend technical writers reach out to organizations before submitting a statement of interest to discuss the project they’ll be working on and gain a better understanding of the organization.

Organizations must hire technical writers by May 17, 2021 at 18:00 UTC, so technical writers should begin reaching out as soon as possible.

Will technical writers be paid while working with organizations accepted into Season of Docs?

Yes. Participating organizations will transfer funds directly to the technical writer. Technical writers should review the organization's proposed project budgets and discuss their compensation and payment schedule with the organization prior to hiring. Check out our technical writer payment process guide for more details.

If you have any questions about the program, please email us at [email protected].

General timeline

May 17

Technical writer hiring deadline

June 16

Organization administrators begin reporting on their project status via monthly evaluations.

November 30

Organization administrators submit their case study and final project evaluation.

December 14

Google publishes the 2021 case studies and aggregate project data.

May 2, 2022

Organizations begin to participate in post-program followup surveys.

See the full timeline for details.

Care to join us?

Explore the Season of Docs website at g.co/seasonofdocs to learn more about the program. Use our logo and other promotional resources to spread the word. Examine the timeline, check out the FAQ, and reach out to organizations now!

By Kassandra Dhillon and Erin McKean, Google Open Source Programs Office

Season of Docs announces the successful 2020 long-running projects

And, that’s a wrap! Season of Docs has announced the 2020 program results for long-running projects. You can view a list of successfully completed technical writing projects on the website along with their final project reports.

15 technical writers successfully completed their long-running technical writing projects. During the program, technical writers spent a few months working closely with an open source community. They brought their technical writing expertise to improve the project's documentation while the open source projects provided mentors to introduce the technical writers to open source tools, workflows, and the project's technology.

Congratulations to the technical writers and organization mentors on these successful projects!

What’s next?

Program participants should expect an email in the next few weeks about how to get their Season of Docs 2020 t-shirt!

If you were excited about participating, please do write social media posts. See the promotion and press page for images and other promotional materials you can include, and be sure to use the tag #SeasonOfDocs when promoting your project on social media. To include the tech writing and open source communities, add #WriteTheDocs, #techcomm, #TechnicalWriting, and #OpenSource to your posts.

If you’re interested in participating in a future Season of Docs, we’re currently accepting organization applications for the 2021 program. Be sure to sign up for the announcements email list to stay informed!

By Kassandra Dhillon and Erin McKean, Google Open Source Programs Office

The 2021 Season of Docs application for organizations is open!

Season of docs icon

Google Open Source is delighted to announce Season of Docs 2021!

The 2019 Season of Docs brought together open source organizations and technical writers to create 44 successful documentation projects. In 2020, we had 64 successful standard-length technical writing projects and are still awaiting long-running project results.

In 2021, the Season of Docs program will continue to support better documentation in open source and provide opportunities for skilled technical writers to gain open source experience. In addition, building on what we’ve learned from the successful 2019 and 2020 projects, we’re expanding our focus to include learning about effective metrics for evaluating open source documentation.

What are the 2021 program changes?

Season of Docs 2021 will allow open source organizations to apply for a grant based on their documentation needs. If selected, open source organizations will use their grant to hire a technical writer directly to complete their documentation project. Organizations will have up to six months to complete their documentation project. Keep reading for more information about the organization application or visit the Season of Docs site.

Technical writers interested in working with accepted open source organizations will be able to share their contact information via the Season of Docs GitHub repository; or they may submit proposals directly to the organizations and will not need to submit a formal application through Season of Docs.

Participating organizations will help broaden our understanding of effective documentation practices and metrics in open source by submitting a final case study upon completion of the program. The project case study will outline the problem the documentation project was intended to solve, what metrics were used to judge the effectiveness of the documentation, and what the organization learned for the future. All the project case studies will be published on the Season of Docs site at the end of the program.

How does it work?

February 9 - March 26 Open source organizations apply to take part in Season of Docs
April 16 Google publishes the list of accepted organizations, along with their project proposals and doc development can begin.
June 16 Organization administrators begin to submit monthly evaluations to report on the status of their project.
November 30 Organization administrators submit their case study and final project evaluation.
December 14 Google publishes the 2021 case studies and aggregate project data.
May 2, 2022 Organizations begin to participate in post-program followup surveys.

See the timeline for details.

Organization applications

Organization applications are now open! The deadline to apply is March 26, 2021 at 18:00 UTC.

To apply, first read the guidelines for creating an organization application on the Season of Docs website.

Take a look at the examples of project ideas, then create a project proposal based on your open source project’s actual documentation needs. Your goal is to attract technical writers to your organization, making them feel comfortable about approaching the organization and excited about what they can achieve.

Organizations can submit their applications here: http://goo.gle/3qVxArQ. Organization applications close on March 26th at 18:00 UTC.

Technical writers interested in participating in the 2021 Season of Docs should read our guide for technical writers on the Season of Docs website.

If you have any questions about the program, please email us at [email protected].

Join us

Explore the Season of Docs website at g.co/seasonofdocs to learn more about participating in the program. Use our logo and other promotional resources to spread the word. Check out the timeline and FAQ, and get ready to apply!

By Kassandra Dhillon and Erin McKean, Google Open Source Programs Office

Season of Docs announces results of 2020 program

Season of Docs has announced the 2020 program results for standard-length projects. You can view a list of successfully completed technical writing projects on the website along with their final project reports.

Seasons of docs graphic
During the program, technical writers spend a few months working closely with an open source community. They bring their technical writing expertise to improve the project's documentation while the open source projects provided mentors to introduce the technical writers to open source tools, workflows, and the project's technology.

For standard-length technical writing projects in Season of Docs, the doc development phase is September 14, 2020 – November 30, 2020. However, some technical writers may apply for a long-running project. The technical writer makes this decision under consultation with the open source organization, based on the expectations for their project. For a long-running project, the doc development phase is September 14, 2020 – March 1, 2021.

64 technical writers successfully completed their standard-length technical writing projects. There are 18 long-running projects in progress that are expected to finish in March.
  • 80% of the mentors had a positive experience and want to mentor again in future Season of Docs cycles
  • 96% of the technical writers had a positive experience
  • 96% plan to continue contributing to open source projects
  • 94% of the technical writers said that Season of Docs helped improved their knowledge of code and/or open source
Take a look at the list of successful projects to see the wide range of subjects covered!

What is next?

The long-running projects are still in progress and finish in March 2021. Technical writers participating in these long-running projects submit their project reports before March 8th, and the writer and mentor evaluations are due by March 12th. Successfully completed long-running technical writing projects will be published on the results page on March 15, 2021.

If you were excited about participating, please do write social media posts. See the promotion and press page for images and other promotional materials you can include, and be sure to use the tag #SeasonOfDocs when promoting your project on social media. To include the tech writing and open source communities, add #WriteTheDocs, #techcomm, #TechnicalWriting, and #OpenSource to your posts.

Stay tuned for information about Season of Docs 2021—watch for posts in this blog and sign up for the announcements email list.

By Kassandra Dhillon and Erin McKean, Google Open Source Programs Office

Season of Docs announces 2020 technical writing projects

Season of Docs has announced the technical writers participating in the program and their projects! You can view a list of organizations and technical writing projects on the website.

The program received over 500 technical writer applications, and with them, over 800 technical writing project proposals. The enthusiasm from the technical writing and open source communities has been amazing!

What is next?

During the community bonding period from August 17 to September 13, mentors must work with the technical writers to prepare them for the doc development phase. By the end of community bonding, the technical writer should be familiar with the open source project and community, understand the product as a whole, establish communication channels with the mentoring organization, and set clear goals and expectations for the project. These are critical to the successful completion of the technical writing project.

Documentation development begins on September 14, 2020.

What is Season of Docs?

Documentation is essential to the adoption of open source projects as well as to the success of their communities. Season of Docs brings together technical writers and open source projects to foster collaboration and improve documentation in the open source space. You can find out more about the program on the introduction page of the website.

During the program, technical writers spend a few months working closely with an open source community. They bring their technical writing expertise to the project's documentation and, at the same time, learn about the open source project and new technologies.

The open source projects work with the technical writers to improve the project's documentation and processes. Together, they may choose to build a new documentation set, redesign the existing docs, or improve and document the project's contribution procedures and onboarding experience.

General timeline
August 16Google announces the accepted technical writer projects
August 17 - September 13Community bonding: Technical writers get to know mentors and the open source community, and refine their projects in collaboration with their mentors
September 14 - December 5Technical writers work with open source mentors on the accepted projects, and submit their work at the end of the period
January 6, 2021Google publishes the list of successfully-completed projects

See the full timeline for details, including the provision for projects that run longer than three months.

Find out more

Explore the Season of Docs website at g.co/seasonofdocs to learn more about the program. Use our logo and other promotional resources to spread the word. Check out the FAQ for further questions!

By Kassandra Dhillon and Erin McKean, Program Managers, Google Open Source Programs Office

Teaching the art of great documentation

Posted by James Scott, Technical writer

Technical writing is simple - you merely have to explain brutally complex technologies to relentlessly unforgiving audiences. It's unsurprising that so many engineers find writing documentation is the most painful part of their job. If you would like to teach your colleagues to become writers, the good news is Google's fun and interactive technical writing course materials are free and available for everyone to use! Alternatively, if you're a developer who would like to learn how to write more clearly, you can read through the course work for yourself or convince a colleague to teach the course at your organisation!

We researched documentation extensively, and it turns out that the best sentences in the world consist primarily of words. Our self-paced and facilitator-led courses will not only help software engineers choose the right words but also help to make the whole writing process a lot less scary. Perhaps software engineers won't become William Shakespeare or even William Shatner overnight, but hopefully they will gain the confidence to write something worth publishing. As working from home becomes more common, good documentation has never been more important in enabling software engineers to work independently.

Courses overview

Google introduced the technical writing courses, Technical Writing One and Technical Writing Two, in 2015. Since then, thousands of Google software engineers and product managers have taken and enjoyed the courses. In February 2020, we released the courses to the world.

The classes have the following structure:

  • Students complete self-study work before attending the live class. The self-study work is valuable on its own, even for students who will never attend the live class.
  • A facilitator guides students through a live class. The live class features practical exercises, class discussion, and extensive peer-to-peer feedback. Note that Google does not lead these live courses but provides extensive material to help facilitators prepare to lead them.

Organizations can choose to host the live classes virtually or in-person.

Technical Writing One

The first course, Technical Writing One, covers the basics of technical writing. Students learn to start thinking about their audience before even putting pen to paper. For example, in one exercise, students are challenged to write instructions for putting toothpaste on a toothbrush. That might sound relatively simple, but here's the catch - your audience has never brushed their teeth before. That's not to say they have bad oral hygiene, but they don't even know what a toothbrush is. The exercise aims to get students to think about documenting a completely new technology.

Another important lesson that Technical Writing One teaches you is how to shorten the sentence length in your documentation and how to edit unnecessarily long sentences. Hopefully once you have taken the course, you might edit the preceding sentence down to something like the following: Another important lesson that Technical Writing One teaches you is to shorten sentences length in your documentation and how to edit unnecessarily long sentences.

The course also advocates using lists instead of walls of text, so here, in list form, are some other topics it covers:

  • Using active voice instead of passive voice.
  • Revising text into clear paragraphs.
  • Learning various self-editing techniques.

Technical Writing Two

Technical Writing Two builds on the techniques from the first course and is for those who already know verbs from adverbs. The course encourages students to express their creative side. For example, in one exercise, students find the best way to illustrate technical concepts. Spoiler alert: can you spot any issues with the following diagram?

A diagram titled Finding a website through DNS, with seven boxes of varying colour, size, and shape connected by lines in various directions.

Figure 1: Finding a website through DNS

Other intermediate techniques the course covers include:

  • Organizing large doc sets.
  • Revising and reorganizing text.
  • Writing accurate descriptions.
  • Creating tutorials for beginners.

Students take part in interactive exercises and peer review with a lab partner. Technical Writing Two also includes class discussions on documentation types and how to write the dreaded first draft.

Want to know more?

If you would like to teach the courses at your own organization, see the facilitator guides. To review the pre-work and read through the training materials, see the course overviews.