IS at DrupalCon – Mentored Code Sprint

Last day of DrupalCon Barcelona 2015

This week myself and a few colleagues attended DrupalCon 2015 in Barcelona and I have been posting some general comments as well as session summaries from Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

On Friday, after the main conference ended, the conference centre remained open for the traditional post-conference code sprints, including the Mentored Core Sprint, which myself, Adrian Richardson and Andrew Gleeson attended for the first time.  It turns out code sprints are addictive; we arrived at 9am intending to stay until mid-afternoon and were thrown out along with the last remaining sprinters when the building closed at 6pm! Fuelled only by water, caffeine and a very short lunch eaten at our code sprint table, each of us contributed something during the session to move Drupal 8 core along.  Some other first-time sprinters were even lucky enough to have their first contribution made to Drupal in a live commit by Angela Byron (webchick) part-way through the code sprint! Having missed out on attending previous DrupalCon code sprints, it was great to finally have the opportunity to join in and contribute to Drupal!

Before arriving for the code sprint, we had prepared our laptops with a Drupal 8 install as well as the various tools described on the DrupalCon website, choosing the Acquia Dev Desktop as the quickest option to get started.  We began the day at the First Time Sprinter Workshop to ensure we were all ready to go, and then moved through to the code sprint room, joining the many Drupalistas who had already settled down to coding.  The mentor for our table was Rachel Lawson (rachel_norfolk on, who was friendly and extremely helpful in keeping us on the right track as we worked on the issues we picked up from the issue queue.

With Rachel’s guidance, Andrew and I managed to find a couple of related UI issues in Drupal core, specifically the Configuration and Structure administration pages, to give us some experience of using the issue queue.  Neither of us had used the issue queue in anger before – the most I have done is re-roll a patch – so we chose something simple, and Rachel kept us right when it came to documenting what we were doing by commenting on the issues we picked up. When 6pm came and we had to leave, we had each uploaded a patch for the issue we were working on, and although neither resulted in a commit before we left, it was very satisfying to feel that we had moved both issues along and made a first small contribution to Drupal core.  It was also comforting to see during the excitement of the live commit session in the afternoon that some of the committed changes were of a similar scale to those which we had made!

Being the more experienced Drupal developer among us, and already familiar with the Drupal issue queue, Adrian was quickly drafted in by Rachel to join three other code sprinters, Darko Kantic (darko-kantic), Glenn Barr (kiwimind) and Jari Nousiainen (holist).  Together they picked up a task to repace the use of the Drupal core theme_implementation() function for table indentation with a twig template, pooling their individual back-end and front-end skills to come up with a solution that ensures the indentation values update correctly following tabledrag actions.  By the end of the day, they had collaborated to produce a patch including the twig template and the required Javascript to handle tabledrag actions.  All that remains is to redo the CSS and background images for tree-child classes that display on mousedown.

Mentored code sprint at DrupalCon Barcelona 2015
Drupal community collaboration in action!

Watching Adrian and the others work together, going through several iterative discussions to come up with the best solution, supported by a mentor who challenged their approach and reminded them to keep the issue queue updated with progress, this seemed like textbook Drupal community collaboration.  By the end of the day, the patch that was uploaded to the issue queue had been worked on by 3 of the group, whilst the remaining member of the team concentrated on identifying where the theme_implementation() function is used so that the patch can be effectively tested.  Each developer contributed to an aspect of the problem that best suited their skills, whether Javascript, Twig or CSS, and all were involved in discussing the potential solutions, discarding those that were not suitable as they progressed.  When 6pm came, if the venue doors hadn’t closed, Adrian and Glenn would have been happy to keep working and finish the outstanding CSS tasks; Drupal contribution is addictive!  As it is, they were able to progress the issue very close to completion, and although no commit to Drupal 8 of the work they have done was made on the day, they can continue to collaborate via the IRC channel to finish what they started.

It was really interesting (and fun!) to take part in a DrupalCon mentored code sprint and witness first hand one of the best things about the Drupal community – the spirit of openness and collaboration that has made it a success.  Every contribution, whether large or small, can add something, and every contributor can feel valued by the community for the part they play.  I have already been looking at the issue queue for something else to pick up; the challenge will be to find the space and time to continue what we started at DrupalCon!