Bootstrapping Docs at a Startup


How do you “bootstrap docs”? In this talk, I will walk through how to build essential docs for an early stage startup that lays a strong foundation for continuous improvement and expansion. The story will be told through my experiences building docs from scratch for CockroachDB (, a next-generation open source database.

When I joined Cockroach Labs as its first technical writer, CockroachDB had been in development for nearly two years and had 15 engineers and 60+ open source developers contributing to it. I needed to build a documentation structure and process that would be lightweight enough for developers to contribute to and flexible enough to apply to the product (and team) years down the road.

This talk will walk the audience through the process of learning a new product and development team, and allowing that information to guide the information architecture and tool selection process.

Topics will include: - How do you learn a new product, and why is it essential to understand its market fit? - How do you learn about your users - who are they, what are their primary pain points, and what do they need most from docs? - How do you choose tools and workflows for building your initial docs architecture? - How do you iterate on, improve, and expand your docs, and harness contributors to do the same?

  • Conference: Write the Docs NA
  • Year: 2017

About the speaker

Jesse Seldess