An Organic approach to building the User Manual Documentation for Ardour ?


I’m a pretty serious hobby musician, guitarist and home recording enthusiast.
I’m a relatively recent convert to Ardour after getting very fed up with legacy OS and Win music software in general.

I am a real believer in the principles of Open source.

Frankly I’m amazed at just how lucky we are to have such a wealth of software and generosity out there from experts like Paul and others in the open source community.

So, to my point…The User Manual …

Having recently made the shift to Linux and Ardour as my working DAW, the one thing i see holding back the conversion of non-programming newbies like me who just want to use the musical tools, but appreciate the open source philosophy, is the initial challenge of getting to grips with the Ardour program , after using other commercial apps like Cubase.

I’ve found many useful guides, and one-off how-to’s out there , but no coherent manual. Though it neccesarily comes at the end the priority list for the developers ( and I can see why ) , for the user it comes near the top. Especially if a user really wants to unlock the true power of the program and appreciate how Ardour differentiates itself, and how it adds real value to the creation process compared to much of the commercial apps.

Having read other posts about the development of the User Manual it seems to me that the essential issue here is resource time and man hours to focus on it.

My suggestion is therefore that there should be a twin track approach to resolving this - which I believe will get a solution in place - which will then open the door for many many more users migrating from their existing Win/Mac based commercial DAW platorms.

Here’s the idea…

  1. The official W.I.P manual sits on in an evolving state - maintained by the admins or “intellectual property” owners.
  2. A new category is added to the discussion Forums…
    Alongside “How Do I…?” and “Tips and Tricks” we add a new board entitled “How-To…”
  3. The “How-To…” board is segmented into sections which reflect the sections of the official work in progress User Manual.
  4. As users , er…, use the program and find their way around it, they post their experiences directly under relevant sections of the “How-To…”
  5. The Admin team ( or volunteer “Manual Guardians” ) select the best posts/text from the How-To to build a growing , organic User manual for Ardour.

In this way, at all times users can help grow the experience base into a fully-fledged User Manual , which will become the official take on using Ardour.

As a new user, apart from donating, i think its the very least I should do to give something back in return for getting a free tool which allows me so much enjoyment and creativity at zero expense. And thats notwhitstanding Ardour’s superiority to many commercial apps.

I also think that nailing this early-user challenge of a non-complete manual could open the flood gates for new and converted users.

Anyone agree/disagree ?

Best Regards all,
Pete C

Not going to agree or disagree right now, but it is an interesting idea that I am going to think on for a bit.

In the meantime there is an effort utilizing a wiki like system to rewrite the manual in progress already. You can email me if you would like to participate…


Note the extra ‘e’ in the email address.


Gonna let that idea stew a bit, he has thoughts on how to ease the entire manual creation process as well, but is more concerned about getting an up to date manual out soon at the moment, and will move on to implementing a system to make it easier for everyone to participate once that is done.