It’s been over a week since we were locked up, and held against our will*, writing a book in 5 days on designing and architecting OpenStack installations. I hope, by now, you have managed to get your hands on our hard work? If not, you can grab a copy of the OpenStack Architecture Design Guide here.
I admit, I was cynical of the process. My previous experience of writing books had stemmed from the many weeks and months of hammering out the OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbooks. This involved a few days thinking about TOCs, laying out the chapters, research and then the many hours spent writing each chapter – followed by the arduous back and forth edits between 1st drafts and final copies. To write a book in 5 days, I know sounds feasible (and has been done before, twice over for OpenStack!) – but there’s a difference between being able to write a book in 5 days, and writing a useful book in 5 days. With that in mind, I headed over to sunny California where I met many new faces for the first time who were excited and ready at what lay ahead. Challenge accepted.
Day one was an important day. The skeleton of the book gets created and sets the foundation and template for the work for the week. And like any new situation, understanding people’s intentions, people’s characters and level of humour is an important part of the process. But we’re good – they seemed normal enough (not quite sure on that Steve Gordon fella…;) ).
We made very good progress on day one which put us in a very good position for the rest of the week. With appropriate groups formed according to familiarity and expertise, the initial chapters began to take shape. Through the course of the day we were ticking off tasks that were assigned. By the end of this first day – the shortest day finishing at 6pm – the amount of words that were put to pages and the general brilliant attitude from everyone was beginning to change my cynical mind. Not only were we looking good (even at this stage) to simply fill in the chapters we set out to write, but the content was actually very credible and readable, even at this very early stage.
Day two continued with a purpose that was laid down the day before. We were rattling through each section with mumblings of word counts whispering through the camp. Sure, we had some setbacks that sucked – like when Sean lost 2 hours of writing because he simply clicked on a link in a browser – as a team, we all felt how painful that was. But we had a lot more successes and maybe the odd few heated moments – and the rest of week saw people ticking off tasks on the board and asking what else needs doing. Despite the very long 12-13 hour days – they seemed to go quick.
The remaining days saw the start of the edits – the many passes between the early written parts of text to nearing what would become part of the final book. Fuelled by Mountain Dew and delirium – and the lovely supplied kosher food and lunches – the team started focussing on specific tasks rather than on OpenStack topics. Editing by Nick, Beth, Alex, Scott and Sean happened in tandem with diagrams being drawn and interpreted by the very knowledgeable Vinny whilst the rest of us were fixing up content, proofreading from high above — literally in my case as I had to short-change the system by leaving a day early. Thank you USA and your airlines proving internet access, allowing me to help edit and read the nearly finished book from 31,000ft in the clouds – a fitting end to the week.
So we did it. We started as 12, with a blank sheet of paper, a clean whiteboard and definitely no food at the table.
This book is Open Source. You can edit it and contribute to it like any of the OpenStack documentation. I hope you find it useful as much as I enjoyed help write it. A huge thank you to the rest of the team – who are just damn clever people in the OpenStack community – as well as Adam and Faith from www.booksprints.net who make these ridiculous rules, like writing a book in 5 days, possible and somehow kept us from going insane and killing each other (or them!).
Thanks to Anne Gentle (Rackspace) + Ken Hui (EMC) for organising this and kicking this event off, Scott Lowe (VMware) – and to VMware for hosting us, Nick Chase (Mirantis), Maish Saidel-Keesing (Cisco), Alexandra Settle (Rackspace), Sean Winn (Cloudscaling), Sean Collins and Anthony Veiga (Comcast), Beth Cohen (Verizon), Steve Gordon, Vinny Valdez and Sebastian Gutierrez (Red Hat).
* it’s all lies. We weren’t locked up.