DX Contribution Program – Wrap up

This summer went by fast.  Back in May we announced the opportunity to participate in the DX project.  In June we announced the team.  August ended and the project officially came to a halt.  First off, I would really like to thank all the participants who took interest in this program.  With 5 eager hackers, there is a lot to do!  As the summer wore on, some folks got side tracked, others worked when they could and some kept moving forward.  No matter what the outcome, I do applaud the 5 great contributors who spent their free time getting setup and started on a project.

Now that we are at the end, I would like to outline some of the work that was done and things that were learned.

A few great things got started like mach usage statistics, and Marionette harness cleanup.  These are not easy to get started on and figure out all the quirks with our full scale ecosystem.  It is wonderful to see ideas and progress being made.   Thanks BYK and sehgalvibhor.

Two other projects didn’t get much traction.  While I like to blame myself as a mentor (yes, I could have done a bit more or scoped the projects differently), we ended up not making progress on a few projects.  This is OK, and there is always stuff to learn.  On the projects that didn’t get going, I saw gma_fav struggle a bit, but persist.  I know the right project is out there and she will succeed next time, ideally at Mozilla!  I enjoyed learning about wunderlist from stanley, and will look forward to more of his enthusiasm.

The last project is run-by-dir.  kaustabh93 really worked consistently on this and learned a lot about working in the mozilla-central tree, using try, and understanding our infrastructure.  A lot of work was done for mochitest-plain and mochitest-chrome.  He is still hacking away and making fast progress.  As Kaustabh was the only contributor who was consistent throughout the entire program, I wanted to hear his perspective on the program:

How did you hear about the program, why were you interested?
I had been a contributor at Mozilla for quite sometime working mainly on AlertManager and familiarizing myself with Mochitests by means of solving bugs and reading code. It was at this time, that my curriculum needed me to do an industrial project (internships/training/other programs for which the company would acknowledge mt work by means of certificates or letters or both). I brought this up with my mentor and a few days later, he informed me about this program.
It had been an awesome experience coding for Mozilla so far & hence I got interested instantly.
What did you find challenging?  How did you overcome these challenges?
The existing volume of codes were huge and getting to know what is what was challenging. I overcame this by solving smaller bugs first and reading codes and of course a lot of help, advice & explanation from my mentor, jmaher. He is an awesome person and one of the best mentors, I’ve known.

What advice would you give for anybody looking to contribute in this program?

People looking to contribute to this program should get involved in coding for Mozilla some time prior to commencement of this program. That way they can be familiarized with the existing codes and can better understand their work and this way, they can make the maximum impact with their work. And they should continue contributing to Mozilla even after this program closes.
Other thoughts : One more thing that I should advice people regarding this program is that if they contribute to Mozilla just for this programs (contribution start and end dates coincides with that of the program), then they’re probably doing it wrong.

While I appreciate the callout as a great mentor, there are many other great Mozillian mentors, it is my pleasure to work with folks who contribute their free time to the project,

Without making this too long, I did learn a lot from this great group of participants.  A few tips for becoming a better mentor (you get better with experience and learn from mistakes) is to communicate regularly with whom you are mentoring, this should be at least twice a week.  While mentoring involves a lot of encouragement and gentle guidance, it is important to listen more to what roadblocks are in place (schedules, technical, etc.) and sometimes we need to move to a smaller or simpler project until the timing is right for the big project.  One other big callout was that gma_fav was helpful in making me really understand how our use of master/slave is offensive to many, I am glad I listened to her and worked with her for a couple months!

I look forward to watching these contributors grow outside of this program and meeting more great folks!
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