Proposal: Let's dedicate some time as a group to learning about and contributing to core

bryanhirsch's picture

presented by Bryan Hirsch at 10/4/11 meetup

There are a small number of people who do the lion’s share of the work on core Drupal. As Drupal’s popularity sky-rockets, so does the volume of issues and sense of urgency for problems to get solved fast. But as Drupal’s code base becomes more complex, the learning curve for contributing to Drupal core gets steeper. Issues are being created faster than they can be resolved. And the core core team feels exhausted and burned out. Drupal needs more people to contribute to core.

Some of us put our heads together about this at Drupalcon London. There are a lot of people who would like to contribute to core, but they’re not sure how, they don’t feel qualified, and the time commitment feels prohibitive. Here’s our idea on how we can lower these barriers and bring more people into the core project:

  • Make a list of all the different ways people contribute to Drupal core.
  • Organize the list like a ladder. The first few steps are easy for anyone, minimal knowledge of Drupal required. As you climb higher up the ladder, taking any consecutive step up the ladder is within reach, as long as you’ve taken the first steps.
  • For each rung in the ladder, write up clear instructions that make it easy to get up and running with something new in 15-30 minutes. This way, people can contribute in one-off 1- or 2-hour sittings and get real, valuable work done.
  • There are Drupal user groups around the world that meet regularly. If each group dedicates a few hours to making contributions and helping members work their way up the ladder, this could make a huge impact on two fronts: First, together we can close a ton of issues. Second, this would be great for capacity building, bringing more people into work on Drupal core, and making it easier for people to climb the ladder, build their skills and contribute to Drupal at higher levels.

Next steps:
To make any of this happen, here are the things someone has to do:

  • We need to write up How-To’s for each rung in the ladder.
  • We need to do “usability testing” on the How-To’s. That is, try them out, make sure they’re easy to use, and make sure they set people up to reasonably learn something new and get something substantive done.
  • Reach out to Drupal core initiative leaders to make sure we’re developing materials that will support priorities in Drupal’s development process.
  • Post these materials on d.o.
  • Reach out to Drupal user groups to get them onboard with the idea.

My proposal to the Boston Drupal user group:
Right now this idea is just an idea. I want to propose to all of you that our Boston Drupal group think about stepping up and making this idea reality.

Including tonight, our group has five meetups on the calendar before Drupalcon Denver. I would like to propose we take 1 hour tonight, and then, if people are willing, 1 hour at each meetup until the next Drupalcon, to figure out how get this off the ground. If our group would be willing to dedicate 1-hour per meetup at the next few meetups to testing out the first draft of these materials, I will happily volunteer my time (personal time and some time donated by Acquia) between meet-ups to prepare the materials I described.

Testing this out, and then going to Drupalcon Denver with some work to show for it and materials to help other groups replicate this would be an incredible service to the Drupal community. The Boston group is uniquely positioned to step up to this challenge. Our community is big and strong. We’ve got an impressive number of core contributors in our midst, and a large number of up-and-comers who are hungry to learn more.

Rather than spend the next hour weighing the pros and cons of the idea, here’s how I propose we move forward, if this sounds like an okay process to all of you: Let’s take the rest of the evening (45 minutes) to do the first trial run. I’ve prepared a couple How To instruction documents. Let’s take one. Dig in. See how it goes, see what we accomplish, and then debrief at the end. Then, this evening or tomorrow touch base with me personally or post your thoughts on g.d.o, to weigh in about whether you think our group should dedicate an hour of our monthly meeting in Nov., Dec., Jan., and Feb. to doing an activity like this.

(People agreed to try this.)

Goals for this evening:

  1. For people without Drupal running locally: Get everyone set up.
  2. For people with Drupal running locally: Get everyone to make progress on one issue on some aspect of Drupal core they’re interested to learn more about. Specifically, reproduce and document a bug (
  3. Get everyone to do #1 and #2 in under an hour.


Love it - can we start earlier?

jeckman's picture

I think this is a fantastic idea and look forward to participating.

Any chance we could start earlier, though? I know there's always conflict between folks (like me) who can arrive earlier and need to leave earlier and folks who can't arrive until later but can stay later.

Maybe we could do a first hour (5:30-6:30) of what you're describing before the Meetup starts at 6:30, and then a second hour after the lightning talks portion? People could choose to take part in one or both depending on their time?

Either way, thanks for taking the initiative here

Glossary of Terms

d1b1's picture

The meetup last night was very educational. It was obvious that the organizers have put a lot of thought and effort into approach. Based on some of the comments and feedback, I have created a google document we can use to capture relavent terms. Some of these terms will be completely obvious to the experienced, but are far from clear for people at the bottom of the ladder.

Additionally, it might be a valuable approach to develop a list of posts that are relavent to each step in the ladder. Going into the break-out sessions during each meetup, with some background knowledge will help me get the most of the 'leaders' time.


Long Time ASP web developer, who has seen the light and is 100% committed to the drupal way of development.

New place to post new contributor tasks

jhodgdon's picture

Benjamin Melançon pointed me in your direction... I don't know where this project is going now, but I just wanted to let you know that yesterday I set up a spot on to post New Contributor Tasks:

There are instructions and templates in a sub-page:

Hopefully some of the tasks you come up with on this initiative can end up there too? :)

Course API

scottrigby's picture

Hi is this a good place to continue talking about functionality?

It could be interesting to add Drupal elearning courses to the site (built with Drupal Course, to learn about Drupal):

Issue queue?

BrockBoland's picture

I think that the Learn distro issue queue is the best place for that, but don't hold me to that.


scottrigby's picture

Good idea… added to the queue there >:)


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