Drupalcon Szeged code, docs, usability sprint on Sunday

On Sunday the Drupalcon organizers arranged for a code sprint at the excellent József Attila Study and Information Centre. What a difference great infrastructure makes to the productivity of a day of sprinting. The work area was the open birds of a feather lounge on the third floor. This was an ideal work area that was big enough to hold over 100 people but also allow for divided areas where we could cluster into work groups. The wireless was flawless thanks to some excellent work from the Drupalcon Szeged team who arranged for first class wireless networking equipment to be loaned by Cisco for the event.

The event started at 9AM and we broke into 5 main work groups.

Fields in core sprint

The fields in core sprinters forward-ported all the recent Content Construction Kit (CCK) bug fixes into the fields in core work, and began porting the CCK UI (which will remain in contrib) to use the new Field API. The sprinters, Barry Jaspan, Nathan Haug, Stéphane Corlosquet, and Florian Loretan contributed 3.5 person days to getting fields in core.

Documentation sprint

The second group was the documentation sprint group lead by the enthusiastic and talented Addison Berry. This group had about 15-20 members and they were a very tight cohesive group. They quickly agreed on goals and broke into highly functional teams tackling a dozen important documentation topics. What was particularly inspiring was the documentation sprinters ability to agree quickly on goals but then as quickly build the collaborative infrastructure they needed to reach optimal efficiency. I'll point to Addison Berry's email to the documentation list for details. The important take away is that we made progress first by making it a lot easier to contribute and then let those interested plunge into small discrete tasks. This is a promising trend and one of the keys to growth of the Drupal project.

Database sprint

Larry Garfield led the database sprinters. He was accompanied by a half dozen contributors. It was particularly exciting to see Larry from Chicago, Karoly from Hungary, and Henrique from Brazil all contributors to the next generation database patch working closely together. The crescendo of the sprint was reached half way through the day when Angie Byron, the new Drupal 7 maintainer, committed her first patch. The patch was tests for the new database layer. The sprinters erupted in cheers and the tempo of the event reached it's high point.

Testing sprint

Three years ago Moshe Weitzman started checking in tests for his modules, and began encouraging others to do the same. Since then testing championing by Boris Mann, three summer of code projects on testing, a testing sprint in Paris, and ultimately the committing of a testing framework to core brought us to a testing frenzy at Drupalcon Szeged. The testing pancake party Thursday morning had four score and two attendees(82)! When Moshe kicked off the testing sprint we had members writing their first tests and getting lots of help from their colleagues. Here's a look at the tests that were written at Szeged. Green were written and committed during Szeged, "needs review" were written at Szeged, and 'patch (code needs work)' were started at Szeged. The testing sprint specifically worked on: http://drupal.org/node/296299, http://drupal.org/node/296310, http://drupal.org/node/296486, http://drupal.org/node/295985, http://drupal.org/node/296485

User Experience sprint

The user experience sprinters had been sprinting all week with birds of a feather sessions in packed rooms all week. Jeff Noyes is going to write up a more detailed post on the sprint so you can learn more. What was different about this sprint was that there twenty usability sprinters negotiating directly with the new Drupal 7 maintainer about what they needed in the development process to make the needed user experience improvements. Once again, Drupalers were agreeing on goals, building the infrastructure to make it as easy as possible to communicate, and then breaking the work down in small tasks so the most people possible could participate.

The picture below demonstrates some of the issues identified and how they broke into teams
There were critical improvements to the infrastructure of the development process including moving UX work in to the core development process with project issues components marked as 'usability'. The usability group now allows for visual conversations that allow designers to more effectively reach consensus. We now have user experience professionals working closely with the Drupal 7 maintainer with a coordinated team of contributors who can integrate their designs into the core development process. This is a major milestone for the Drupal project.

Leave them wanting more

At 6PM a team of large 200 pound plus central european men arrived and told us we had to leave. It's really inspiring to see fingernails being dragged across the keyboard as sprinters try to get one last task in.

We broke up into small groups and headed off for dinner. I debriefed the Drupalcon North America 2009 team on the theories and finer points of running a Drupalcon. After dinner we broke up into shuttles and taxi's and headed off for the 2.5 hour drive from Szeged to the Budapest airport. 60 minutes later we arrived at the hotel, re-invigorated in the way that constant deceleration from 200 km/hour to 60 km/hour as you approach a two large semis occupying both lanes, can do. Our sprinting must have rubbed off on our taxi driver.

Our cluster of sprinters was still enthusiastic as we took over the Budapest Airport Hotel bar. We slowly began to unwind breaking down to more personal one on one conversations. Finally, the sprinters excused themselves one by one citing the need for sleep, until it was just Angie and myself.

We shared that joy of a job well done. We conspired on how to be more effective and to make critical improvements until 2:30AM. With a final Drupalcon hug we ended our sprint.


Posted on by Robert Douglass.

Kieran, that taxi ride is just a blur in my memory. Oh wait, everything is a blur when you're driving 120+ Mph.

Posted on by Jakob Petsovits (not verified).

I think the idea of splitting into just a few major groups instead of many small ones is splendid, and pretty productive if the work can be divided into well-scoped chunks.

Unfortunately, I myself couldn't stay for the code sprint because my power supply was broken - hacking on a laptop all day without power is not that much fun, otherwise I would have loved to participate. Well, there's always a next Drupalcon :P