November 21, 2023. The GEM Foundation was selected to participate in the Google Season of Docs (GSoD) 2023 program in June, securing funds to hire a technical writer to streamline the documentation of the OpenQuake Engine. This initiative aims to consolidate fragmented documentation into a unified website, enhancing accessibility for both novice and experienced users.
Despite the widespread adoption and substantial impact of the OpenQuake Engine within the earthquake science and engineering community over the past decade, certain aspects, particularly documentation, have faced challenges. With a small team of fewer than 30 employees, only a few solely dedicated to engine development, documentation varied across multiple platforms, including GitHub repositories, HTML documents, video tutorials, and PDF explanations.
The primary objective of this documentation project was to restructure and unify all existing information into a cohesive site. Following other popular open-source documentation examples, the GEM Foundation reorganised the documentation, which is now available live at docs.openquake.org/oq-engine-new/master/manual/.
To gauge user satisfaction with the engine documentation, a survey was conducted among OpenQuake users before the project initiation in June. Results revealed that while most users were aware of the engine users’ manual, awareness about the advanced users’ manual and underlying seismic hazard and risk analysis books was limited. By centralising all resources into a single website, GEM aims to address these awareness gaps among users.
A follow-up survey was distributed in November to evaluate the impact of the improvements on user satisfaction and to gauge the effectiveness of the revamped documentation. In the initial survey, the perception score on user experience was 3.27, while the updated documentation received an overall score of 4.13, indicating a comparative improvement of 26%, slightly below the 30% target.
The user experience satisfaction is expected to further improve in the coming months as changes and enhancements are finalised, also thanks to contributions from the USAID - Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance-supported Forecasting and Communicating Earthquake Hazard and Risk (FORCE) Project and a collaboration with the European Facilities for Earthquake Hazard and Risk (EFEHR).
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