Last week at Drupal Europe we had the opportunity to learn from each other, catch up with old friends and make new connections, and contribute back to Drupal Core with Contribution Days on both Monday and Friday. A lot of work goes into preparing for these events, from coordinating team members to getting tools ready.
Let’s talk a little about what the Drupal Core Contribution mentoring team does, what the experience of mentoring is like, and how the Quicksprint toolset developed at DRUD has enabled the community to be highly participatory and productive.
Drupal Core Contribution Mentoring
First off, a huge Thank You to the mentoring team and team leads who stepped up to keep the contribution times running smoothly. The goal of the Drupal Core Contribution Mentoring Team is to “inspire, enable, and encourage new core contributors.” Core mentors also work on process and tools to make it easier for newcomers to contribute. In addition to one-on-one mentoring at events, the team leads do advance work around communications, coordination with event organizers, mentor orientations, triaging issues to use during the event, arranging for materials and booth space.
I’ve personally been involved in mentor communications and organization for the last few DrupalCons, and it’s been very rewarding. At Drupal Europe I gave a session on the mentoring efforts, to share what we do, who we are, and why we do it.
One of the key pieces to running a good contribution event is having documentation and processes set up in advance. The initial work structuring the program was largely done years ago by Drupal.org users xjm, alimac, yesCT and others who have emphasized being supportive and showing new contributors how to find what they’re looking for, rather than doing it for them.
Today, we’re seeing more people with diverse backgrounds and experience coming to the contribution days wanting to help out. Some may have little experience with coding, but are interested in getting closer to the code. Others would like to find out how they can help as project managers, marketers, designers, etc. A group was started at Drupal Europe to address these questions and to rework the getting started guide information on Drupal.org. Contributors welcome!
Enabling open source contributors
DRUD is focused on enabling people to stay competitive as technology evolves. The DDEV-Local development environment tool makes it possible to spin up a vanilla Drupal site in just a couple minutes. DRUD, in partnership with Drupal Core Mentoring team members realityloop and mradcliffe, wrapped DDEV-Local up with Docker CE, Drupal 8 via Git, and additional tools for Windows to create the Quicksprint package. This toolset enables contributors to get up and running quickly with all the tools they need to work locally with a copy of Drupal Core
“Getting new code contributors set up has taken a giant leap forward, thanks to the work of DRUD and many of the Mentoring leads. Now, mentors get to focus on the mentoring of contribution rather than fixing laptop issues.” – Rachel Lawson, Drupal Association Community Liaison
First time mentor and DRUD engineer Andrew French was on deck during the Friday Contribution Day to help new contributors set up the Quicksprint toolset and troubleshoot any issues with DDEV-Local. Andrew spent most of his time in the mentored contribution room, and said that the day seemed to go very smooth. He said, “if it works smoothly and the user doesn’t even really have to think about the Quicksprint process, that’s the goal.”
A couple of issues cropped up during the day, Andrew said, “port collisions were the most common thing, but it’s also super easy to bypass. It’s also one of those things that can take forever to properly diagnose so it’s best to just do the quick fix.” Check out the documentation on how to fix port conflicts.
There was also some slight confusion over wording in the Quicksprint documentation, which has been addressed in a pull request here. We also discovered a truly perplexing issue on a Windows machine to debug back at the office. We can take these issues we encounter in the wild back to the project to improve it for all users.
In the future, Andrew is thinking about the possibility of creating a more integrated script to remove some of the steps to install Quicksprint. DRUD is also considering making sure the toolset is updated and saved on USB sticks well in advance. These will include the upcoming DDEV UI so contributors don’t need to use the command-line. Gathering feedback during the contribution day will help inform the project with the exact needs of the mentors and contributors so we can make the most effective tool possible.
“As a maintainer of DDEV, it’s amazing to be able to interact face to face with users and get them up and running to contribute and be productive.” – Andrew French, Software Engineer DRUD Technology
Events like Drupal Europe, DrupalCons, and Drupal Camps offer a chance to sit down in person and learn how to use the Drupal.org issue queue, how to install a local instance of Drupal to work with, and how to find your own way to future contributions.
If you’d like to run your own contribution event with these tools, you’ll find plenty of information in the Quicksprint GitHub repository, particularly in the DRUPAL_MAINTAINER_README.md for organizers. For more support, there’s also the #DDEV slack channel on Drupal Slack.
The most crucial component of a good contribution event is thanking everyone involved, from contributors to mentors and organizers. DRUD sponsored the mentor dinner in Darmstadt on Friday night, to say thanks to everyone who helped out. Thank you, mentors!