Perks & Woes of Drupal Maintainer: Excerpts from Contributor Blog

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Drupal’s success and vitality are mainly due to its one million-plus contributing community members. Contributors build, test, document, and deploy Drupal so that websites can enjoy the immense features of this Free and Open Source Content Management System.

Mariano D’Agostino wrote a blog yesterday about the joys and challenges involved in contributing, reviewing  and maintaining code in Drupal. He gives a compelling insight into the whole process behind the scenes of being a subsystem maintainer.

Here are a few interesting excerpts from his article. In Mariano’s own words,

As a software developer, one big lesson open source gives you is, complex software needs managers. So that was what I did, I left my programmer hat aside and started doing triage of existing issues.

  • Issues with patches state Active, change status to Need Review.
  • Issues marked as Needs Review that require changes, mentioned by someone from the community, set as Needs Work.
  • Nothing else required, patch looks good? Try the patch locally and if it works, move it to Reviewed and Tested by the Community.
  • If an issue is already reported somewhere else, close it as a Duplicate.
  • At the same time, since I had some experience working with views in the past, I contributed to using a view to list log entries.

Eventually, after six months of doing this, I applied to be a formal maintainer of the dblog module. The community agreed, and I became a formal subsystem maintainer.

Mariano lists the benefits of his contributions as:

  • You learn a lot. I don’t have all the knowledge in my head, and reading others’ points of view always helps to understand the problem and existing APIs.
  • You have the chance to interact with other members of the community. Take the issue mentioned above. Devs from Russia, Canada, New Zealand, Italy, United Kingdom and Argentina collaborated to fix a small bug.
  • You keep up to date with what is going on in the rest of the Drupal ecosystem. Sometimes running git log --oneline core/modules/dblog/ gives me an idea of what’s going on elsewhere in core.
  • You get a great user profile.

He also talks openly about the frustration that comes with this work,

”Not all is beautiful in this role. Sometimes you have more issues than you can handle. Sometimes nobody contributes to fix bugs and they sit there forever. Sometimes you think you did everything ok, but then someone else, usually someone smarter than me, marks a trivial error in your review that requires more work from the original contributor. This often frustrates me because I could have done a better job to reduce the friction and keep devs motivated to fix the problem. But at the same time, I learn a lot.”

And…

"As a maintainer, you must learn to live with a long list of open issues waiting for review and understand that your issue is one of the 23K currently open issues. Patience is the key."

Mariano’s work is in part sponsored by Gizra.

To read the full blog: https://www.gizra.com/content/retrospective-as-core-subsystem-maintainer/

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