Tutorials on how to contribute

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ewel
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Tutorials on how to contribute

Post by ewel » Mon May 17, 2010 11:31 pm

In January under the old presidency I was forcefully convinced that Joomla was no longer a collaborative community, and I stayed away from joomla.org in protest against what happened. Recently, however, there are signs that the appointment of new board members is bringing some change to the old school and that Joomla can be a collaborative community instead of... well, let's not start about all that and get into the sort of unforgiving mood that a repetition of history would give me. The clearest sign of progress is people.joomla.org, but more importantly there is a lot of momentum amongst third party developers, many of whom are ready to direct that momentum into helping Joomla along. All this has made me decide to also pitch in on joomla.org again, and it seems fitting to start with making a suggestion to facilitate collaboration.

At the moment, efforts are made on alltogetherasawhole.org to round up people to help with all the tasks that need to be done for version 1.6. A good number of experienced people are signing up, but I think more could be gathered by also including those who have little or no experience. I am sure that there are many people who like me would not mind putting in some hours if they felt a little less useless for lack of knowledge of how things work. For exeperienced coders it is probably easy to forget this, but there is something of a learning curve involved in finding out how to contribute.

There may be tasks that do not require coding skills, and I hear that even goes for testing. But perhaps for those tasks the same goes as for more code-oriented tasks, which is that inexperienced people need a little help to understand the tools needed and the procedures involved.

In other words, people need some tutorials, preferably video tutorials that show how simple it really is. There are hundreds of video and text/image tutorials out there about how to make a great Joomla site, but hardly any about how to help make Joomla great. So in terms of documentation, I think it would be a good idea for Joomla to fill this gap.

I think these tutorials should show how, with free and fairly simple tools, almost anyone could help (remember that video showing that posting a Joomla article is as easy as sending email on Gmail?). I have seen one or two tutorials, including one in the wiki, about setting up a computer for Joomla development, but I hope tutorials can be shorter than that, otherwise the net effect would be scaring people off.

What I can provide myself, for the wiki perhaps (but is there a nice tutorial on how to use the wiki?), is a text/image tutorial I made on using TortoiseSVN.

By the way, part of the idea should be, I think, that the path from front page to idiot guides on how to contribute should be easy to navigate.

 
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Re: Tutorials on how to contribute

Post by masterchief » Tue May 18, 2010 12:32 am

Hi Ewout.

I must start by saying I think, in future, we can leave out the personal experiences with which you introduce this idea. It's not helpful and can easily be taken the wrong way especially when there are many, many people (and unsung heroes) involved in making any one idea, or indeed web site (such as people.joomla.org) a reality.

To the meat of the idea then, yes, full marks and I'm happy to say planning is already in the wings to assist people to latch on to several areas in the JBS where they can help, and consolidating the "where do I begin" information is happening with the reboot of developer.joomla.org. In the mean time we've been directing people to the JBS mailing and this idea would be best discussed there because that is where the centre of the action is now.

http://groups.google.com/group/joomlabugsquad

I encourage you to continue the discussion there as several people have asked about this in a number of locations. Those old-hands in the JBS will also be able to provide assistance in the IRC chat at irc://irc.freenode.net#joomla-bug-squad
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Re: Tutorials on how to contribute

Post by alledia » Tue May 18, 2010 12:44 am

Hi Ewout

Ditto to Andrew above on both his points:

- A good proposal but please leave out the backhanded compliments of the first paragraph. The previous board members are the just about the kindest and most community-minded people on the Joomla team ... one was a main driver behind people.joomla.org

- For the tutorials, I'm more than happy to help if needed and have quite a bit of video-creation experience. Suggestions for what needs to be covered?
Joomla extensions and templates: http://Joomlashack.com

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Re: Tutorials on how to contribute

Post by ewel » Tue May 18, 2010 7:50 am

Thanks to you both for responding so quickly!

I am glad there is already something in the pipeline for the bug squad and I'll start a discussion there too as soon as things of the day allow me. But I think besides squatting bugs there may be other good starting activities for beginners.

Though I'll need a little help with suggesting what needs to be covered first, I think it is best to first cover the areas where help is most needed. If I am not mistaken those are testing 1.6 and making help screens for 1.6, is that right? Soon I suppose the need for documentation of the changed API will become pressing, especially to help conversion of extensions.

As for testing, again I am guessing a bit, but I suppose that would come down to learning how to:
- Getting a nightly built
- Installing it on a local or web server (does it need to be a clean install, does it need a clean DB?)
- Checking a list if any of what needs testing
- Testing something thoroughly in a way that others can repeat and that can produce useful results
- Getting any system information that may be needed
- Making a bug report

As to bug fixing, I think that would best be separate from testing so that the threshold is low for testing.
- How to make a patch
- How to submit a patch

Then writing help screens, and perhaps other documentation:
- Checking the list of things to do and claiming tasks
- Checking the conventions on how to write help in terms of style, structure and layout
- Making, editing and inserting screen shots
- Submitting help screens

As said, I am just guessing, I need some tutorials to be more sure : )

My ideas about navigation have not really crystallised yet, but let me just throw a few thoughts around. On the front page there are a number of links which have to do with contributing, but they are spread and perhaps not obvious for some. There are also three nice buttons, saying 'Try', 'Learn and extend', and 'Download'. Given that Joomla is an open source collaborative project, I was thinking it would be nice to add a button 'Help and contribute'. This could lead to a page from where pretty much all ways to do so can be found. In that page, I would try to group ways to help and contribute in three levels from inexperienced to expert, but I would also feature the most urgent or needful tasks.
Let me try to say the same from another angle. There is lots of SEO knowledge within the teams and community. To me it seems what is needed is optimisation of the conversion from visitor to volunteer and contributor. You could see gathering people to collaborate in the same way as companies see sales. If the frequent offering of trial versions and special offers is anything to go by, then an entry level of collaboration and featured tasks would help the conversion.

As to non-code bugs, all but one of the people I have met and been in contact with in connection with Joomla were pleasant if not very nice. This is why I am convinced the people portal and the collaborative work on 1.6 will be the successes they deserve to be and why will try to do my bit.

 

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