The Digital Initiatives Group at the International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), a center in the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health, is participating in the Season of Docs, Google's annual program that fosters collaboration between open source projects and technical writers. This is the inaugural year of this new program!

Season of Docs is a unique program that pairs technical writers with open source mentors to introduce the technical writer to an open source community and provide guidance while the writer works on a real-world open source project. The technical writer in turn provides documentation expertise to the open source organization. Season of Docs is not a recruiting program nor an internship but it does provide an invaluable experience and looks great on a résumé!

DIGI implements open-source digital health solutions that help people make informed decisions to improve health outcomes in low and middle-income countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Kenya, and South Africa. We work with electronic medical records, laboratory information systems, human resources information systems, and other digital health tools. Our work contributes to sustainable health systems and improved population health.

Technical writers interested in Season of Docs can find the list of participating open source organizations on the Season of Docs website. The application period for technical writers is open from May 29, 2019 - June 28, 2019. DIGI’s Ideas List is available here:

Have questions about Season of Docs? Email

Have questions about DIGI and I-TECH? Email:

Ideas List:

Project 1

  • Project name: OpenELIS documentation for software developers.

  • Description: We seek to strengthen documentation for software developers and implementers via updates including:

  • Orientation to the OpenELIS code base and database model;

  • Tutorial on setting up the OpenELIS development environment;

  • Repository of requirements and specification documents for existing features;

  • Documentation updates on all aspects of the technology overhaul currently underway to replace the Java framework, and to replace all end of life components as well as other security changes;

  • Tutorials on creating new analyzer plugins to the level that analyzer interfaces could be built by developers who are previously unfamiliar with OpenELIS;

  • Fully documented API available to help new parts of the health information ecosystem to easily interface with OpenELIS;

  • Updated coding style guide and conventions to outline the process of code integration from community members

  • Links to existing tutorials on development processes (ie: requirements gathering, user-centered design, testing) and laboratory services.

Project 2

Project name: OpenELIS documentation for laboratory personnel and software implementers.

Description: With the move from tailored forks of OpenELIS for each laboratory toward a unified software which is highly configurable, there is a need to guide implementers on the ways that OpenELIS can support varied and diverse lab workflows. Currently, it is difficult to understand the implications of each option and how they work together without prior experience configuring the system. Documentation of this system would unlock its potential for new implementers trying to get started. Specific improvements to implementer documentation include:

  • Building a repository for current SOPs for OpenELIS installation and administration;

  • Providing a comprehensive “Quick Start” guide for implementers, covering everything from procurement guidance to how to install the analyzer plugins;

  • Setting up a file section to host existing analyzer plugins, installers and other software needed for implementation, as a companion to the installer to setup the software;

  • Creating an interactive mechanism for implementers to share feedback and contribute new documentation and analyzer plugins.

Related material:

Project 3

Project name: OpenELIS documentation for end users.

Description: We seek to redesign and enhance user-facing documentation for OpenELIS. I-TECH intends to revolutionize the way that OpenELIS users obtain help based on their context-specific needs. Currently, instructions on using OpenELIS are contained in a single user manual that users can find tedious and time-consuming to navigate. Some users, particularly new ones, appreciate having access to a broad array of materials that they can browse and learn along the way. Other users, especially those who are more experienced and familiar with a specific digital product such as OpenELIS, will want to quickly locate and use a specific resource in order to complete a data entry or reporting task. Specific activities will include:

  • Converting the existing (out of date) User Manual into a comprehensive, up-to-date library of job aids and written tutorials on all current functionality (including newer functionality, such as test management, barcode scanning, batch entry, and analyzer results import), including metadata tags to help index the information;

  • Develop / Update an English version of the help materials

  • Providing users with access to a “Top 10” list of the most frequently accessed job aids.

  • Create a style guide and coding conventions document  

Related material:

OpenELIS existing user guide:  This illustrates the existing user manual and the direction for the possible design of indexed, context-specific user documentation and help resources.