Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2018


LitOps: literature-as-software

Briging DevOps culture to the creation and production of books

Book production, from inception to publication, is still very much trapped in writing-correction-production cycles that resemble how software was made much earlier. However, productivity would be very much increased if the writing-correction-publication would be taken a step (or two forward) to a continuous integration/continuous delivery DevOps-like environment where you define by software the whole pipeline a book is going to follow from writing to publication. LitOps is a transpiling of the DevOps culture to book production, using mainly software development tools, and rigging them so that you can produce and publish quality-checked books using as many automation tools as possible.

Although most arts make extensive use of automation tools, from textures in comic to automatic motion generation tools in 2 or 3-d animation, writing a book, whatever its class, technical or fiction, gives the word manuscript its full meaning, since the most advanced tool used is the spell and maybe grammar checker. This leads to long development cycles, with new editions published after long rewriting-edition-production cycles. Nowadays, authors can publish directly using a variety of places, from Leanpub to Kindle Direct Publishing, and there are all kind of tools available for doing that kind of thing. Still, this has not lead to fast production cycles where new editions are produced as soon as "bugs" are found and fixed and all formats are published at the same time. My personal history in this area started when I decided to write a book from the first line using GitHub. That lead to using continuous integration, and it kind of ballooned from here. Nowadays I have created a full automation suite, in Perl6 and Python, that produces "printed" versions (shortening and expanding URLs), checks for line bleeds, and produces several high-quality formats from a Markdown source; time from change to new publication-ready version takes a few seconds. The only thing missing is an API for publication sites that would allow to make an automatic deployment. However, even without that final steps, the LitOps concept that codifies book production pipelines using scripts, including error checks and the rest, actually might mean a sea change in how fiction and non-fiction is produced, using LitOps teams and adopting the rest of the patterns of the software industry: forking, hackathons and linting, and finally taking manuscripting to this century.


Photo of Juan Julián Merelo Juan Julián Merelo