Drupal... come for the code, stay for the sprint

I'm sitting in the Denver airport killing time before flying back to California. As everyone in Drupal-land knows, we just finished up the very successful DrupalCon Denver conference with over 3000 attendees!

Unfortunately, I missed the main part of the festivities (sprints/BoFs/parties) due to family illnesses but I will watch the videos!

I flew into Denver Thursday night, met up with some Bay Area friends, and went off to the Drupal trivia night. My team did so badly on the trivia questions that we won!! Our prize included some awesome Build a Module videos courtesy of Chris Shattuck. Thanks, Chris!

I *was* fortunate enough to participate in the DrupalCon sprints that started on Friday...

What the heck is a Drupal sprint?

A Drupal sprint is when a group of people get together to make Drupal better. Note that I didn't say Drupal *developers*. You don't need to be a developer or coder to help out in a sprint. Sprints can be for:

  • Writing and improving documentation
  • Testing issues
  • Hashing out architectural design ideas
  • Writing patches
  • and more...

Check out the new contributors docs on drupal.org to learn more.

Why should you help?

We all know that Drupal is only as strong as our community. We make Drupal better by coming together no matter what our backgrounds or strengths or weaknesses. Sprints are not just for the "beautiful people" or "in crowd" (which is something I used to believe). Every person can help.

The great thing about being in a Drupal sprint is not only do you get to hang out with wonderful people, but you feel like you've made a positive difference. Because of your work, Drupal just got a little bit better. And, maybe you also learned something in the process!

Newbie contributor sprint

An awesome thing about the DrupalCon Denver sprints was there was a "newbie" room dedicated to those new to contributing to Drupal core issues. I have been a Drupal developer for nearly 8 years, have contributed modules, given Drupal camp presentations, etc. but contributing to "core" sounded intimidating and mysterious. I didn't know the process. I didn't know what to work on. I didn't know how to start.

After a few minutes in the newbie room, I could see that the barrier to entry is actually quite low. There are things for everyone to help out with and the process isn't as daunting as you would think.

Thanks to the sprint leads for their help and inspiration! In particular, thanks
to Jess for giving the big picture and to Angie for showing us how core patches are committed.

Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative (D8MI) sprint

After going through a few Drupal core issues in the newbie room, I joined the D8MI sprinters in the other room. D8MI is out to make language support awesome for Drupal 8! I just finished writing my multilingual Drupal 7 book and was in a perfect frame of mind to dive into helping with D8MI.

The D8MI lead is Gábor Hojtsy who, not only is a very nice and smart guy, but has been leading the initiative very effectively. He created a initiative "rocketship" that rocks :) and helps us see very easily what tasks need love and attention.

The process was pretty simple. Gábor would direct us to an issue on the
rocketship and we'd work on it and then leave a comment with our feedback, patch, documentation, etc. I worked on several issues which fell into 3 buckets:

  • Review and write documentation.
  • Review UI improvement mockups and provide feedback.
  • Test patches for new functionality and provide feedback.

I didn't need to write any code (though there were certainly others doing that). In this case, the documentation did need a fairly technical understanding of the multilingual architecture but that isn't always the case for documentation. The mockup reviews didn't need much technical expertise, and the patch testing just required that you know how to get a fresh code repository, apply the patch, and test the particular feature.

Kudos to the D8MI team on a job well done!

Ready to start contributing?

Sprints often happen as part of a DrupalCon, camp, etc. and they can be virtual as well. And, you don't need to wait for a sprint to start contributing. Check out the Boston Initiative to see how they are getting more Drupal people contributing to core.

See you in the issue queue!



Missed a great party!

Too bad you couldn't get to Denver until Thursday night. My company, Elevated Third, hosted a great party on Wednesday night as well as code sprints on Sunday and Monday before the con. Maybe we'll see you in Portland!

I'm a Speaker at DrupalCon Portland