Prepping for DrupalCon Austin sprints: Sprint leads, component maintainers, experienced contributors & mentors, update core issue queues this week!

DrupalCon Austin Logo

One week to go!

It’s hard to believe that DrupalCon Austin starts in a week. Woohoo! We’re excited to have 5 of our team members going… 3 of them (Lindsay, Marc & Patrick) have never been to a DrupalCon before and I’m sure they’ll have a great time with sessions and BoFs and parties and their very first sprints. For the first-timers, don’t miss the Get Involved with Core and Contribution Sprints on Friday where you can get the help you need to make Drupal better while having a fun time with the community (and remember to stick around for the extended sprints on the weekend too ;). For those of you with issues you want help with, read on…

Are you a sprint lead? Core component maintainer? Experienced contributor? Mentor?

tldr; Please update issue summary remaining tasks, link to contributor task documents, note which are novice tasks, and add "needs" tags.

community members sprinting

Community members at DrupalCon Prague. Photo credit: Josef Jerabak.

Every DrupalCon, we have attendees from all walks of life, from all skill levels, and from all over the world come together to learn and share and hang out with our amazing Drupal community. This diversity is great since it provides an opportunity for more experienced community members to focus on more complex issues while mentoring newcomers to help out with tasks at their level and interest. We are very lucky to have a large group of key contributors, mentors, and knowledgeable community members who’ll be spearheading the Austin sprints. If you are interested in mentoring, please sign up to mentor… we’d love more help.

Sprints, sprints and more sprints!

DrupalCon is definitely not a 3-day event… come join us for sprints on the weekend before and after DrupalCon (for extended sprints), from Monday through Thursday in the Coder Lounge, and on Friday for the Contribution Sprints. Check out the sprint sign up sheet if you haven’t already.

So far, there are about 20 (!) focused sprint topics planned. If you want to focus on a particular part of core or a community ("contrib") module that’s not listed on the signup sheet, just add it to the list. While many have chosen a group to sprint with like D8MI or the Drupal Media Initiative, there are still a number of sprinters who are open to working on any topic. Community Sprint Room sprint at Drupal Developer Days Szeged. Photo credit:

If you can’t attend DrupalCon Austin, we’ll miss you at the sprint tables, but you can still sprint as a remote member of the team! Just sign up and mark yourself as a remote sprinter. All help is appreciated and you can experience a part of DrupalCon from the comfort of your own home. ;)

With lots of sprinters, too!

While there will be a lot of sprints going on, we’ll have plenty of sprinters to help out. Austin will have between 300 and 600(!) new contributors and about 300 experienced contributors. That’s a lot of motivated sprinters... so let’s get ready to do this!

We want to get prepped so that everyone can hit the ground running and not trip over each other. ;) For the new recruits, we will need a good amount of well-defined novice issues to keep them productive and happy. This is where we need the help of mentors and experienced contributors. (But! We do not want to turn the whole issue queue upside-down and know you are busy getting ready for Austin. If experienced contributors update just a few issues each, we should be fine.)

First, let's consider: who are the new contributors? New contributors are knowledgeable about their areas of interest but they might not be familiar with the Drupal core contribution tools and process. And, some will be new to Drupal as well.

Why do we try to match new contributors with novice issues? Working on a real task on a real issue which really helps Drupal, but is doable in a short period of time, gives new contributors a chance to learn the Drupal contribution tools and process without having to focus on challenging architectural overreaching epic problems. A good novice task gives people a first successful contribution experience and empowers new contributors to move on with other issues in the future.

Let’s get organized!

Ok, we’ve got lots of sprints and lots of sprinters. Great! You veterans can help make sure that the right issues make it to the people with the most appropriate skills to contribute to the issue.

black and white drupal sprint room

DrupalCon Prague sprints. Photo credit: Amazee Labs.

Even for the most experienced developer, the Drupal issue queue can be a pretty daunting thing at first glance, especially if someone has never been involved in a full issue resolution lifecycle. Leaders in the community can prepare the issues for clear assignment, and mentors can get the new contributors familiarized with the issue process.

Smooth execution of an issue resolution helps get the time sensitive issues done. Hiccups and variations in the issue process can disrupt community members that are focused on priority or difficult issues. So, for example, while we want to encourage contribution, a beta blocker is not a good first-Drupal-contribution issue.

We don’t want non-novice tasks being tackled by novice contributors since they are new to the contribution process. And, we don’t want experienced contributors doing novice tasks when they could be reviewing issues or working on issues that need their expertise and experience. To better achieve this goal, we can update our issues this week so they are well tagged and have a clear, accurate list of next steps.

To quote YesCT:

...the combination of adding tags, and updating the issue summary remaining tasks section with links to contributor task documents makes it really easy for someone new to Drupal or new to an issue to know what the next steps are and how to do them…

Let’s Get Queuing!

Step 1: Re-read the issues you know about.

Step 2: Update the remaining tasks section to accurately reflect what still needs to be done. Link each remaining task to the appropriate contributor task document so there is plenty of context for the sprinter. The remaining tasks template is helpful. (Dreditor has an issue with a build to add a button to help with this.)


Step 3: Tag the issue with "needs" tags, e.g. "Needs tests", "Needs issue summary update", or "Needs manual testing". Use established tags from the list of "needs" tags. Don't make up new tags.

Step 4: Identify which of the remaining tasks might be good for someone new to contributing to Drupal and mark them novice in the issue summary. See What makes a good Novice task on

Note: the entire issue does not have to be novice. Identify specific tasks within an issue that are small, well-defined, and doable. (Avoid issues that are long, contentious, or urgent, even if they have some potential novice tasks.)

Not all tasks are novice. Some rerolls are difficult; some issue summaries are difficult; some manual testing is difficult, etc. When marking a task Novice, consider that we want new contributors to be able to get the task done.

Step 5: Tag issue with "Novice" tag if there are any novice tasks. Remove the "Novice" tag from any issues that do not have novice tasks.

Step 6: Add additional, established tags that give further context to the issue. Tags can express information like: issue topic (e.g. Usability), initiative (e.g. D8MI), and skill level (e.g. Novice). (Typically, focus information (e.g. sprint, beta target) is added or subtracted from issues by initiative leads or maintainers.)

Tagging like a pro

If you want help on the issues you care about, tagging issues well is the best way to get there. Be sure to use individual tags rather than long compound ones.

For example:

DON’T: novice usability needs manual testing

DO: Novice, Usability, Needs manual testing

The issue tagging docs are a great place to learn how to tag like a pro but here are the highlights:

  1. Use existing issue tags and be consistent with other core issues. For example, "Configuration system" is used for configuration management issues (not "CMI").
  2. Add established special use / "needs" tags like "Needs usability review".
  3. Add established topical tags like "CSS" and "Accessibility".
  4. Use consistent capitalization and formatting, and avoid special characters.

Mentors will be using the issue tags to find issues appropriate for both the new and experienced contributors. Tag wisely! ;)

Learn more…

Getting new contributors to help out

More about DrupalCon Austin sprints

Thanks for the feedback! :)

Committed by: Kristen Pol, YesCT, aimeeread, xjm

This blog post was born out of a request from Cathy Theys (YesCT) on a weekly Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative meeting. Cathy has been a fantastic mentor in the Drupal community and wanted to give the community some tips for Austin. She has been busy doing lots of other awesome community work so we are happy to help voice her wisdom and experience to the greater Drupal community.

Cathy Theys (YesCT) strumming guitar at DrupalCon Prague by Josef Jerabek

Cathy. Photo credit: Josef Jerabak.

Thanks to Cathy, Jess, Aimee, Gábor & Nathaniel for pointing us at the great wealth of community resources, providing notes in IRC and Google docs, and reviewing and finetuning this blog post! It takes a village to raise a Drupal. :)

If you have more resources or tips to share, please leave a comment.

See you in Austin! Sprints for the world! Woohoo!