February 10, 2012

801 words 4 mins read

New Ubuntu developers in the making

Ubuntu has always tried to attract more developers making Ubuntu even better. In doing so it’s always good to try to cover the following points:

  1. Outreach - you want many people to fully realise they can be part of the effort.
  2. Documentation - interested new contributors need a good place to learn.
  3. TODO lists - you need easy tasks new contributors can sink their teeth in.
  4. Feedback loop - give new contributors feedback and allow them to learn from more experienced team members.
  5. Joining the ranks - with some experience they can join the team.

Since Ubuntu exists we have been constantly improving bits in all these categories and I’m quite happy to say that this cycle we improved things quite a bit again.

In terms of outreach we

  • extended the team of people working on Developer news significantly. Benjamin Kerensa and Cody Smith have joined me in bringing weekly updates out there. It has been a fun experience to work together on this and we improved out team infrastructure quite a bit over time. If you ever wanted to be part of a fun team which brings development news out there, comment bellow.
  • had a fantastic Ubuntu Developer Week. 32 sessions, speakers from 15 different countries and about 350 attendees, lots of action, lots of smart question and fun people.

Our documentation has seen a lot of updates: thanks a lot to Barry Warsaw for UDD updates, Andrew Starr-Bochicchio for various fixes and Alexander Fougner for an update of the look (this is still work-in-progress). There are still a number of bugs which can be easily fixed if you don’t mind writing a bit of documentation - so jump in and help improving it even more! (Also do some work items still require help.)

Coming to the point of TODO lists: unfortunately Harvest was broken for quite a while. Thanks to our sysadmin team, I managed to get access to the server logs and identify a couple of problems and fix them. Harvest now works again and thanks to the unstoppable Andrew Starr-Bochicchio we have Fedora patches in Harvest again. Awesome! (There’s still a number of things we want to improve, so if you enjoy web development, check out our TODO list.)

Our feedback loop has become a lot tighter again: not only has the effort to keep the sponsoring queue under control continued (hey, it’s still Sponsorship Friday!), but also have Christophe Sauthier and I set up a team call the “Developer Advisory team". The task of the team is to reach out to different groups of developers and get their feedback and help them along. One group is new contributors who just got their first contribution in, another group is developers who might be able to apply for upload rights soon. Also do we want to reach out to inactive developers and see what we can do to help. I’m very happy this team is finally up and running, because it makes our development experience a lot more social and puts us into a position where we get more valuable feedback. Christophe and I are still looking for helping hands, so let us know if you want to help.

The Developer Membership Board has been doing a good job this cycle, they have regular meetings and on top of things. Thanks a bunch for your good work.

All in all, I’m quite happy with how we are all moving forward and am thankful for all the great work everybody has put into making things better. There are still lots of things we can improve, so I was wondering if we could get a team of people together who like the idea of bringing more new developers into the fold, people who like the social aspect of Ubuntu, who like teaching, who enjoy making the whole experience more seamless and more fun. Let me know what you think and I can set up a couple of meetings so we can see what we all can do together.

In addition to all the bug lists and blueprint work items I mentioned above, here’s another idea, which David Henningson mentioned to me: wouldn’t it be great to have a script which goes through all Launchpad PPAs to identify people who have been doing great work? As all of these PPA users have mastered one of the big hurdles (packaging and getting a package to build reproducibly), wouldn’t it just be great to get in touch with them and see if they would like to maintain their work in Ubuntu?

The post already got longer than I expected and it’s a mixed bag of updates, but please leave a comment if you have any ideas about the above or would like to help.

Big hugs to everyone! Keep up the good work!

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