GSoD 2021: Perl’s Content Audit and Gap Analysis | by Khawar Latif Khan | Dec, 2021


Documentation is a tricky thing for open-source programming languages. The process of managing and updating the documents requires a lot of time, effort, and dedication. The overall documentation doesn’t only have to be updated regularly, but it also needs to be presented and organized in a way that the users can find what they are looking for without any hassle. This job becomes more demanding when the learning aspect of documentation is of prime importance.

Perl, being an open-source, general-purpose programming language, had all these concerns. The documentation of Perl consists of hundreds of individual articles (which are all extremely useful for existing as well as new users). However, the sheer volume of these documents can be confusing, especially for people who are new to Perl. To take care of these concerns, Perl proposed a project for Google Season of Docs (GSoD) 2021.

Logo pf Perl.
Picture credits: Perl

I got a chance to work on this project as a technical writer. The project was spread over a period of six months, resulting in a workable plan for the future of Perl’s documentation.

The primary aim of the project was to conduct a comprehensive content audit, followed by a gap analysis. These analyses helped in identifying the major shortcomings of Perl’s documentation. The valuable information obtained from these analyses was then combined with user feedback and discussions with Perl’s docs team to formulate a plan for the future.

The major phases of the project included the following.

Phase 1: Content Audit

The first step toward the improvement of the documentation was to conduct a comprehensive audit of the existing documentation. This not only helped in developing an understanding of the documentation but also highlighted the areas of improvement.

Phase 2: Gap Analysis

Gap analysis came next, where existing and potential users of Perl gave feedback about the documentation. This helped in incorporating the input of users in the project and understanding their pain points.

Phase 2.75: Actions for Gaps

Phase two and three-quarters, originally not included in the proposal, were introduced to organize the findings of the content audit and gap analyses. An action plan with task-based projects was created that turned out to be extremely helpful in the end.

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