A grand tradition of Drupalcons is to end with a day of sprinting. Sprints are most often associated with a bunch of hackers chewing on code. Well, our community is more than code or coders. We are a rich community both in people and in the broader work we do to keep Drupal-land humming smoothly along. At this Drupalcon, like the last two, we'll be having an all-day documentation sprint on the last day, March 7. This year we will be a bit more organized and we have a whole room set aside just for us. And just who is "us?" This year a big goal of mine is to really get the word out that everyone can help with docs. We need people from all skill sets, backgrounds and languages; newbie to code ninja. Documentation work is not just about writing. Even taking one hour to hop in to help will push Drupal forward in leaps and bounds.
I am not a great follower of politics nor of modern history (modern meaning anything after the Roman Empire, ;-) I'm an ancient history freak). I've been fascinated by Barack Obama, not just from the plain emotional freedom from the Bush years he represents, but also his steady rise as a leader in my mind. By that I mean the way in which he made myself and many, many other people believe that he is a leader for me. What makes great leaders? What makes people rally and believe in an individual, faults and all? This doesn't just happen in politics, though that is a great stage.
The Drupal Association (DA) is getting ready to vote on new members next week. We are looking for more people to help carry the Drupal community forward. But what does it mean really? I know when I was accepted last year as a Permanent Member, I had a very fuzzy idea of what I was getting into and what was expected of me. For folks out there that are thinking of applying or wondering if you even want to, I thought I'd share my experience over the last year to try to give a little more insight into how it works and what we need.
Aside from general docs work, like the monthly challenges and our current projects, my main priority the last few weeks (and into the foreseeable future) is getting a new Help system into Drupal 7 and making it kick behind. The patch to get the base system in is very close and we just need a bit more work to tip it over. Drupal 7 is aiming to be one incredible release and it is now time to really focus hard on things to make it useful to mere mortals: usability and documentation. If you care at all about the everyman in the CMS drama, then it's time to put on yer grown-up pants and get to work.
What needs to be done right now
Currently what we really need are reviews and feedback. Here are the major pieces we need eyes on:
I had a great time at SANDcamp this weekend. It was great to catch up with friends I hadn't seen in a while and I met lots of cool people. Most of the time I was trying to suck them into the Drupal community. ;-) My keynote was "It's the people, stupid!" and I've attached the slides here. I had great feedback from the presentation and we had some recurring jokes from it running through the weekend. I also want to thank everyone that stopped by the documentation sprint. That was a blast. We got lots of new eyes on the docs and I got most of the demo site for the new core Help system patch set up (more on that in a day or two).
This weekend, I'm headed out to sunny San Diego for my first Drupal event of the year, SANDcamp. I can't wait to see my friends, meet new people and generally geek out for a few days. I'm excited for a lot of reasons and while basking in the warmth of SoCal is definitely something to be excited about, there will be lots of Drupal goodness too. We're looking to have around 100 Drupalers come together from all over for two full days, for free even. If you haven't signed up yet, you better get on it.
This year is already shaping up to be busy and challenging in a lot of ways, but one the biggest challenges I'm chomping for is in the world of documentation. By "world of documentation," I don't just mean Drupal docs either; I'm talking about all Open Source docs. Here is a bit of a glimpse into my visions for 2009. Put yer doc goggles on, cuz I'm on a wild ride.
With the start of the new year, I've decided I'm going to run a monthly "Docs Challenge." I've got another post coming down the pike that lays out my long-term goals and the big pieces of the Drupal docs puzzle for this year. One of those goals is to find ways to make contributing to documentation clearer and easier. By setting up monthly challenges, I want to outline and give guidance on docs tasks throughout the year. It is one thing to tell people they can help and give them the tools, and quite another to actually explain what that means and guide them through the process. These challenges will hopefully not only get needed documentation tasks done, but show everyone exactly what it all means and that they really, really can help out. So, without further ado, my Docs Challenge for January is to clean up the docs issue queue on Drupal.org. We currently have about 200 issues covering 4 pages. I'd like to get that down to 150 (3 pages) by the end of the month. To that end, I'm going to set aside at least one hour each weekend day in January, from 1-2 p.m. EST (18:00-19:00 GMT) to work on the queue. I'll spend that hour on IRC in #drupal-docs on Freenode to answer questions and teach anyone who wants to learn as well. Fifty issues is a lot to get through and I'm going to need at least a little bit of help.
I'm not much of a photographer. I'm more of a snapshotter. This year I'm going to snapshot my way through the year taking at least one picture a day. Why? Because I'm curious about what will show up. Thinking about my days from a visual perspective should give my mind a little bit of fun each day that moves me outside of my very text-based online world. I'm hoping it will encourage me to explore a bit more and take more chances to just stop and look around. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. I guess I'll just have to see.