Tag Archives: Community

Please welcome the Dashboard Hacker team

A few weeks ago we announced that we would be looking for committed contributors for 8+ weeks on Perfherder.  We have found a few great individuals, all of whom show a lot of potential and make a great team.

They are becoming familiar with the code base and are already making a dent in the initial list of work set aside.  Let me introduce them (alphabetical order by nicks):

akhileshpillai – Akhilesh has jumped right in and started fixing bugs in Perfherder.  He is new to Mozilla and will fit right in.  With how fast he has come up to speed, we are looking forward to what he will be delivering in the coming weeks.  We have a lot of UI workflow as well as backend data refactoring work on our list, all of which he will be a great contributor towards.

mikeling – mikeling has been around Mozilla for roughly two years, recently he started out helping with a few projects on the A*Team.  He is very detailed oriented, easy to work with and is willing to tackle big things.

theterabyte – Tushar is excited about this program as an opportunity to grow his skills as a python developer and experiencing how software is built outside of a classroom.  Tushar will get a chance to grow his UI skills on Perfherder by making the graphs and compare view more polished and complete, while helping out with an interface for the alerts.

Perfherder will soon become the primary dashboard for all our performance needs.

I am looking forward to the ideas and solutions these new team members bring to the table.  Please join me in welcoming them!

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Please join me in welcoming the DX Team

A few weeks ago, I posted a call out for people to reach out and commit to participate for 8+ weeks.  There were two projects and one of them was Developer Experience.  Since then we have had some great interest, there are 5 awesome contributors participating (sorted by irc nicks).

BYK – I met BYK 3+ years ago on IRC- he is a great person and very ambitious.  As a more senior developer he will be focused primarily on improving interactions with mach.  While there are a lot of little things to make mach better, BYK proposed a system to collect information about how mach is used.

gma_fav – I met gma_fav on IRC when she heard about the program.  She has a lot of energy, seems very detail oriented, asks good questions, and brings fresh ideas to the team!  She is a graduate of the Ascend project and is looking to continue her growth in development and open source.  Her primary focus will be on the interface to try server (think the try chooser page, extension, and taking other experiments further).

kaustabh93 – I met Kaustabh on IRC about a year ago and since then he has been a consistent friend and hacker.  He attends university.  In fact I do owe him credit for large portions of alert manager.  While working on this team, he will be focused on making run-by-dir a reality.  There are two parts: getting the tests to run green, and reducing the overhead of the harness.

sehgalvibhor – I met Vibhor on IRC about 2 weeks ago.  He was excited about the possibility of working on this project and jumped right in.  Like Kaustabh, he is a student who is just finishing up exams this week.  His primary focus this summer will be working in a similar role to Stanley in making our test harnesses act the same and more useful.

stanley – When this program was announced Stanley was the first person to ping me on IRC.  I have found him to be very organized, a pleasure to chat with and he understands code quite well.  Coding and open source are both new things to Stanley and we have the opportunity to give him a great view of it.  Stanley will be focusing on making the commands we have for running tests via mach easier to use and more unified between harnesses.

Personally I am looking forward to seeing the ambition folks have translate into great solutions, learning more about each person, and sharing with Mozilla as a whole the great work they are doing.

Take a few moments to say hi to them online.

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A-Team contribution opportunity – Dashboard Hacker

I am excited to announce a new focused project for contribution – Dashboard Hacker.  Last week we gave a preview that today we would be announcing 2 contribution projects.  This is an unpaid program where we are looking for 1-2 contributors who will dedicate between 5-10 hours/week for at least 8 weeks.  More time is welcome, but not required.

What is a dashboard hacker?

When a developer is ready to land code, they want to test it. Getting the results and understanding the results is made a lot easier by good dashboards and tools. For this project, we have a starting point with our performance data view to fix up a series of nice to have polish features and then ensure that it is easy to use with a normal developer workflow. Part of the developer work flow is the regular job view, If time permits there are some fun experiments we would like to implement in the job view.  These bugs, features, projects are all smaller and self contained which make great projects for someone looking to contribute.

What is required of you to participate?

  • A willingness to learn and ask questions
  • A general knowledge of programming (most of this will be in javascript, django, angularJS, and some work will be in python.
  • A promise to show up regularly and take ownership of the issues you are working on
  • Good at solving problems and thinking out of the box
  • Comfortable with (or willing to try) working with a variety of people

What we will guarantee from our end:

  • A dedicated mentor for the project whom you will work with regularly throughout the project
  • A single area of work to reduce the need to get up to speed over and over again.
    • This project will cover many tools, but the general problem space will be the same
  • The opportunity to work with many people (different bugs could have a specific mentor) while retaining a single mentor to guide you through the process
  • The ability to be part of the team- you will be welcome in meetings, we will value your input on solving problems, brainstorming, and figuring out new problems to tackle.

How do you apply?

Get in touch with us either by replying to the post, commenting in the bug or just contacting us on IRC (I am :jmaher in #ateam on irc.mozilla.org, wlach on IRC will be the primary mentor).  We will point you at a starter bug and introduce you to the bugs and problems to solve.  If you have prior work (links to bugzilla, github, blogs, etc.) that would be useful to learn more about you that would be a plus.

How will you select the candidates?

There is no real criteria here.  One factor will be if you can meet the criteria outlined above and how well you do at picking up the problem space.  Ultimately it will be up to the mentor (for this project, it will be :wlach).  If you do apply and we already have a candidate picked or don’t choose you for other reasons, we do plan to repeat this every few months.

Looking forward to building great things!

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A-Team contribution opportunity – DX (Developer Ergonomics)

I am excited to announce a new focused project for contribution – Developer Ergonomics/Experience, otherwise known as DX.  Last week we gave a preview that today we would be announcing 2 contribution projects.  This is an unpaid program where we are looking for 1-2 contributors who will dedicate between 5-10 hours/week for at least 8 weeks.  More time is welcome, but not required.

What does DX mean?

We chose this project as we continue to experience frustration while fixing bugs and debugging test failures.  Many people suggest great ideas, in this case we have set aside a few ideas (look at the dependent bugs to clean up argument parsers, help our tests run in smarter chunks, make it easier to run tests locally or on server, etc.) which would clean up stuff and be harder than a good first bug, yet each issue by itself would be too easy for an internship.  Our goal is to clean up our test harnesses and tools and if time permits, add stuff to the workflow which makes it easier for developers to do their job!

What is required of you to participate?

  • A willingness to learn and ask questions
  • A general knowledge of programming (this will be mostly in python with some javascript as well)
  • A promise to show up regularly and take ownership of the issues you are working on
  • Good at solving problems and thinking out of the box
  • Comfortable with (or willing to try) working with a variety of people

What we will guarantee from our end:

  • A dedicated mentor for the project whom you will work with regularly throughout the project
  • A single area of work to reduce the need to get up to speed over and over again.
    • This project will cover many tools, but the general problem space will be the same
  • The opportunity to work with many people (different bugs could have a specific mentor) while retaining a single mentor to guide you through the process
  • The ability to be part of the team- you will be welcome in meetings, we will value your input on solving problems, brainstorming, and figuring out new problems to tackle.

How do you apply?

Get in touch with us either by replying to the post, commenting in the bug or just contacting us on IRC (I am :jmaher in #ateam on irc.mozilla.org).  We will point you at a starter bug and introduce you to the bugs and problems to solve.  If you have prior work (links to bugzilla, github, blogs, etc.) that would be useful to learn more about you that would be a plus.

How will you select the candidates?

There is no real criteria here.  One factor will be if you can meet the criteria outlined above and how well you do at picking up the problem space.  Ultimately it will be up to the mentor (for this project, it will be me).  If you do apply and we already have a candidate picked or don’t choose you for other reasons, we do plan to repeat this every few months.

Looking forward to building great things!

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Filed under Community, testdev

community hacking – thoughts on what works for the automation and tools team

Community is a word that means a lot of things to different people.  When there is talk of community at an A*Team meeting, some people perk up and others tune out.  Taking a voluntary role in leading many community efforts on the A*Team over the last year, here are some thoughts I have towards accepting contributions, growing community, and making it work within the team.

Contributions:

Historically on the A*Team we would file bugs which are mentored (and discoverable via bugsahoy) and blog/advertise help wanted.  This is always met with great enthusiasm from a lot of contributors.  What does this mean for the mentor?  There are a few common axis here:

  • High-Touch vs Low-Touch
    • High-Touch is where there is a lot of time invested in getting the current problem solved.  Usually a lot of bug comments, email, irc chatter to solve a good first bug.  Sometimes this can take hours!
    • Low-Touch is where a person comes in, a patch randomly appears and there is little to no feedback for the patch.
  • High-Reward vs Low-Reward:
    • High-Reward is where we have contributors that solve larger problems.  A rewarding experience for both the contributor and the mentor
    • Low-Reward is where a contributor is fixing useful things, but they are little nits or polish.  This isn’t as rewarding for the contributor, nor the mentor.
  • Short-Term vs Long-Term:
    • Short-Term – a contributor shows up for a few days, fixes however many bugs they can and disappears.  This is a common workflow for folks who are on break from school or shifting around in different stages of their lives.
    • Long-Term – a contributor who shows up on a regular basis, continues to contribute and just the fact of them being around has a much larger impact on the team.

We need to appreciate all types of contributions and ensure we do our best to encourage folks to participate.  As a mentor if you have a lot of high-touch, low-reward, short-term contributors, it is exhausting and de-moralizing.  No wonder a lot of people don’t want to participate in mentoring folks as they contribute.  It is also unrealistic to expect a bunch of seasoned coders to show up and implement all the great features, then repeat for years on end.

The question remains, how do you find low-touch contributors or identify ones that are high-touch at the start and end up learning fast (some of the best contributors fall into this latter category).

Growing Community:

The simple answer here is file a bunch of bugs.  In fact whenever we do this they get fixed real fast.  This turns into a problem when you have 8 new contributors, 2 mentors, and 10 good first bugs.  Of course it is possible to find more mentors, and it is possible to file more bugs.  In reality this doesn’t work well for most people and projects.

The real question to ask is what kind of growth are you looking for?  To answer this is different for many people.  What we find of value is slowly growing our long-term/low-touch contributors by giving them more responsibility (i.e. ownership) and really depending on them for input on projects.  There is also a need to grow mentors and mentors can be contributors as well!  Lastly it is great to have a larger pool of short-term contributors who have ramped up on a few projects and enjoy pitching in once in a while.

How can we foster a better environment for both mentors and contributors?  Here are a few key areas:

  • Have good documentation.
  • Set expectations up front and make it easy to understand what is expected and what next steps are.
  • Have great mentors (this might be the hardest part),
  • Focus more on what comes after good first bugs,
  • Get to know the people you work with.

Just focusing on the relationships and what comes after the good first bugs will go a long way in retaining new contributors and reducing the time spent helping out.

How we make it work in the A*Team:

The A*Team is not perfect.  We have few mentors and community is not built into the way we work.  Some of this is circumstantial, but a lot of it is within our control.  What do we do and what does and does not work for us.

Once a month we meet to discuss what is going on within the community on our team.  We have tackled topics such as project documentation, bootcamp tools/docs, discoverability, good next bugs, good first projects, and prioritizing our projects for encouraging new contributors.

While that sounds good, it is the work of a few people.  There is a lot of negative history of contributors fixing one bug and taking off.  Much frustration is expressed around helping someone with basic pull requests and patch management, over and over again.  While we can document stuff all day long, the reality is new contributors won’t read the docs and still ask questions.

The good news is in the last year we have seen a much larger impact of contributors to our respective projects.  Many great ideas were introduced, problems were solved, and experiments were conducted- all by the growing pool of contributors who associate themselves with the A*Team!

Recently, we discussed the most desirable attributes of contributors in trying to think about the problem in a different way.  It boiled down to a couple things, willingness to learn, and sticking around at least for the medium term.

Going forward we are working on growing our mentor pool, and focusing on key projects so the high-touch and timely learning curve only happens in areas where we can spread the love between domain experts and folks just getting started.

Keep an eye out for most posts in the coming week(s) outlining some new projects and opportunities to get involved.

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Say hi to Kaustabh Datta Choudhury, a newer Mozillian

A couple months ago I ran into :kaustabh93 online as he had picked up a couple good first bugs.  Since then he has continued to work very hard and submit a lot of great pull requests to Ouija and Alert Manager (here is his github profile).  After working with him for a couple of weeks, I decided it was time to learn more about him, and I would like to share that with Mozilla as a whole:

Tell us about where you live-

I live in a town called Santragachi in West Bengal. The best thing about this place is its ambience. It is not at the heart of the city but the city is easily accessible. That keeps the maddening crowd of the city away and a calm and peaceful environment prevails here.

Tell us about your school-

 I completed my schooling from Don Bosco School, Liluah. After graduating from there, now I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in Computer Science & Engineering from MCKV Institute of Engineering.

Right from when it was introduced to me, I was in love with the subject ‘Computer Science’. And introduction to coding was one of the best things that has happened to me so far.

Tell us about getting involved with Mozilla-

I was looking for some exciting real life projects to work on during my vacation & it was then that the idea of contributing to open source projects had struck me. Now I have been using Firefox for many years now and that gave me an idea of where to start looking. Eventually I found the volunteer tab and thus started my wonderful journey on Mozilla.

Right from when I was starting out, till now, one thing that I liked very much about Mozilla was that help was always at hand when needed. On my first day , I popped a few questions in the IRC channel #introduction & after getting the basic of where to start out, I started working on Ouija under the guidance of ‘dminor’ & ‘jmaher’. After a few bug fixes there, Dan recommended me to have a look at Alert Manager & I have been working on it ever since. And the experience of working for Mozilla has been great.

Tell us what you enjoy doing-

I really love coding. But apart from it I also am an amateur photographer & enjoy playing computer games & reading books.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years’ time I prefer to see myself as a successful engineer working on innovative projects & solving problems.

If somebody asked you for advice about life, what would you say?

Rather than following the crowd down the well-worn path, it is always better to explore unchartered territories with a few.

:kaustabh93 is back in school as of this week, but look for activity on bugzilla and github from him.  You will find him online once in a while in various channels, I usually find him in #ateam.

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Some thoughts on being a good mentor

I have done a good deal of mentored bugs as well as mentoring new Mozillians (gsoc, interns, employees) on their journey.  I would like to share a few things which I have found that make things easier.  Most of this might seem like common sense, but I find it so easy to overlook little details and forget things.

  1. When filing a bug (or editing an existing one), make sure to include:
    • Link(s) to getting started with the code base (cloning, building, docs, etc.)
    • Clear explanation of what is expected in the bug
    • A general idea of where the problematic code is
    • What testing should look like
    • How to commit a patch
    • A note of how best to communicate and not to worry about asking questions
    • Avoid shorthand and acronyms!
  2. Spend a few minutes via IRC/Email getting to know your new friend, especially timezones and general schedule of availability.
  3. Make it a priority to do quick reviews and answer questions – nothing is more discouraging when you have 1 thing to work on and you need to wait for further information.
  4. It is your job to help them be effective – take the time to explain why coding styles and testing are important and how it is done at Mozilla.
  5. Make it clear how their current work plays a role in Mozilla as a whole.  Nobody likes to work on something that is not valued.
  6. Granting access to Try server (or as a contributor to a git repository) really make you feel welcome and part of the team, consider doing this sooner than later.  With this comes the responsibility of teaching them how to use their privileges responsibly!
  7. Pay attention to details- forming good habits up front go a long way!

With those things said, just try to put yourself in the shoes of a new Mozillian.  Would you want honest feedback?  Would you want to feel part of the larger community?

Being a good mentor should be rewarding (the majority of the time) and result in great Mozillians who people enjoy working with.

Lets continue to grow Mozilla!

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