UpStage needs help with documentation

  • Helen Varley Jamieson

    The UpStage project is in need of assistance from someone who understands open source software development documentation.

    UpStage is an open source web-based venue for cyberformance - live online theatrical performance by remote artists, for online audiences; it is currently used by artists and students around the world.

    The project is now 10 years old, and has gone from being a one-developer project (for the first 4 years) to having several volunteer developers along with a team of university students. the student team consists of around 5-6 final-year undergraduate computing students who are on the project for an academic year, with half the team changing mid-year and the other half changing at the end of the year. so there is always an overlap of team membership, and some students have stayed involved with the project as volunteers after they have finished their studies.

    However, documentation of the project has suffered from a high turn-over of student developers, and the original developer is no longer actively involved. New developers have expressed difficulty in joining the project, due to the insufficient documentation. There is some documentation, but it is incomplete and not well organised. A lot of time is lost due to things just not being known about.

    We are looking for someone who can assess the existing documentation, identify gaps that should be filled, and assist the students and volunteer developers in developing appropriate documentation, perhaps by setting up some systems that will make this easier to do as they are programming.

  • Graham Segal

    Graham Segal - 2013-02-13

    I am a greenhorn novice in the field of website development, programming and kindred subjects. I have just about completed a content-heavy website for a consultancy I wish to re-start after a break of a few years due to an unrelated family situation. While I would like to consider helping you, I am not sure that I have the background skills that you are looking for.

    I am very competent with English, have used many technical publications as I commenced my working life as an apprentice in the field of aircraft electronics (aircraft communications, radar, navigational aids & electronic countermeasures). While that was many, many years ago, I only mention it to show that I have some association with technical documentation.

    In my consultancy, I help small & mid-size business Owners of growth companies to become investment ready and investor friendly and then raise equity capital for expansion
    purposes. My 9almost complete) website is at

    If you think I may be able to help in your project, please let me know. I should mention that I am Australian and resident in Ipswich, Queensland.


    Graham Segal:

    • Helen Varley Jamieson

      hi graham,
      thanks very much for your interest. we are really looking for someone who has experience in open source project documentation, as our problem is we have lots of developers who are NOT experienced in this area so as a result our documentation is a bit inconsistent. we need someone who knows what should be there to come in & sort out what we have & what's missing, & organise it. so it requires someone who understands open source development processes at the least.

      helen : )

  • Kevin Matesi

    Kevin Matesi - 2013-02-15

    I have a bachelors in English, and have been working on a Master's in Computer Science for the past 3 years. I've looked into this project before, and I'm very intrigued by it. If you still need someone to help out with your documentation, I will lend you what ever assistance I have to offer.

    Kevin Matesi

    • Helen Varley Jamieson

      hi kevin,
      yes we still do need someone to help. if you have experience in open source project documentation, or at least an understanding of open source development processes, you could be who we are looking for :)

      helen : )

  • Bruce MacAlister


    There must be some special meaning to "experience in open source project documentation." I'm a retired software engineer (not computer scientist or coder) who has been doing systems documentation for over three decades mostly as part of my job as a design engineer. As I edged into semi-retirement I did a lot of user-focused application documentation for hire. Mostly it was text with images to PDF and some video tutorials. Although I am fairly busy as a volunteer instructor in retirement, I like the challenge of converting techie-speak into clear guidance for those users without deep computer knowledge. (It is a form of distance teaching.) I usually consulted with the developers and systems architects to figure out what they were doing, why they were doing it and what they expected of the end-user. I have a few examples that my prior clients do not consider proprietary that I can show you to see if that is the kind of thing you want. Or you can send me some examples of your expectations. Let me know if you can use my skills.

  • Helen Varley Jamieson

    hi bruce,
    thanks very much for your offer. actually what we are looking for is help with documentation within the code, for the developers - someone who has an understanding of what information will be important for future developers to be able to find, & how to create good systems both within the code & in other documentation to ensure that information is not only available but findable. so it is more about inter-developer communication, than explaining things to the end-user.

    helen : )

  • Thelma D Looms

    Thelma D Looms - 2013-03-23

    Hello Helen,

    I am a retired Computer Scientist and College Professor, who started life as a classically trained dancer so I find the UpStage project very interesting.

    During my "post-dancing" career I have been a software developer, instructional designer and technical writer in addition to teaching. I have developed software/API documentation and training for programmers in both corporate and university environments and have hands-on development experience with web-based multimedia systems (my area of concentration in grad school was multimedia synchronization in web-based presentations).

    I can read, and understand :), the languages used by the UpStage project (Python, XML, XHTML, ActionScript, JavaScript, shell, ...) and can explain, both inside and outside the code, how the pieces of a system work and how they fit together. I am familiar with tools like DOxygen (for documenting classes within code) as well as systems that provide searchable access to that information outside the code.

    I have taught and mentored undergraduate Computer Science students and helping with this project would give me the opportunity to continue to contribute to their education during my retirement.

    Best Regards,

    • Helen Varley Jamieson

      hi thelma,
      sorry for the slow reply, i'm in a very busy period at the moment. thanks very much for your interest, it sounds like you might have the experience that we are looking for! :) & maybe also more - if you are experienced in working with undergraduate students, this is an area where we could also use some help.

      have you already had a look at the code & existing documentation?

      helen : )

      • Thelma D Looms

        Thelma D Looms - 2013-04-20

        Hi Helen,

        I just checked and saw your reply :). I'm heading over to the documentation now and I will download the source code.

        Hope to hear from you soon about how I can help.


        • Helen Varley Jamieson

          hi thelma,
          have you had a chance to look at the existing documentation & source code? if you are interested in helping us, please email me - helen [at]

          (this forum is hopeless for communicating - i don't get any email notification of replies so i have to remember to look at the page, but the page is almost impossible to find on the site; there's no way to contact you directly; & just now when i clicked "post reply", it returned a log in page telling me i was already logged in ... & did not post my reply ... this is my third try ... grrrr!!)

  • Ginger O

    Ginger O - 2013-03-27

    Would love to help out!

    Last edit: Ginger O 2013-03-27
  • Helen Varley Jamieson

    hi ginger,
    thanks very much :) please tell us more about your experience in documentation. have you looked at the UpStage code?

    helen : )


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