Contributing to Drupal (DrupalCamp Bristol 2016 sprint)

Yesterday, I attended DrupalCamp Bristol’s sprint day which took place at Torchbox’s new Bristol office. More than 15 people attended the event, including seasoned contributors Lewis Nyman and Emma Karayiannis

Several novices attended the event too, eager to find out how they could become Drupal contributors. It's always great to see people getting involved in the Drupal community. If you too are considering helping out, but are not sure where to begin, I've outlined a few steps below to get you started. 

DrupalCamp Bristol Sprint 2016

DrupalCamp Bristol Sprint attendees

Contributing to Drupal

Drupal has a fantastic community of contributors. People help with everything, from coding tasks to checking documentation and triaging issue queues on drupal.orgWith a community as large and diverse as Drupal's, it should come as little surprise that contributors range from full-time, sponsored maintainers to casual hobbyists who choose to dedicate a few hours a week to improving something they use and care about. 

Getting started

For people looking to get started with contributing, it can be a bit difficult to work out where to begin. A good place to start is drupal.org's own overview on contributions. This page links through to a really helpful contributor task page which explains the many ways that the technical, and non-technical, can get started.

A common misconception is that you need to be an experienced software developer to make improvements to Drupal. Whilst there is often no shortage of technically demanding issues, there are a large number of simpler, smaller tasks which are just as important.

A very quick way of accessing this information is to (ironically, perhaps?) use theadvanced search on the core Drupal issue queue. All of the tasks listed here have been tagged with ‘novice’ and should provide easy pickings for most people. For example, to find Drupal core's issue queue you would go to https://drupal.org/project/drupal, then find the 'all issues' link in the sidebar and follow the 'advanced search' link near the page title.

Drupal

Issues for Drupal Core page

In my opinion, the best way to get started with contributing to Drupal is to attend a sprint day or local developer event, and find a friendly mentor who can offer you some support to avoid the dreaded feeling of getting stuck, bored and disheartened. 

If you're a developer with a reasonable understanding of PHP frameworks, have a go at writing and submitting a patch. There are usually front end tasks and ticket triaging; almost anyone can check whether steps to reproduce a bug still work. Even if your first ever contribution is to read an issue's summary and leave a comment saying “it's actually far more complex than first estimated” - this is a very useful first step. Every little contribution makes a difference.

Contributions by Torchbox

Our team's contributions are summarised on our drupal.org organisation page. A lot of our developers' efforts go towards writing patches for existing/ new bugs on contributed modules. We also think it's really important that the projects we're most proud of are written up as drupal.org case studies. Not only does this promote our best work, but it also raises the profile of Drupal as a product that can deliver success for a huge variety of organisations and individuals across the globe. Many of our developers are also active in the #drupal-uk IRC channel: a public chat room inhabited by friendly Drupal community members in the UK.

Johan Gant

Johan GantDrupal Team Manager