August 04, 2014

Improvements for New Contributors at Mozilla Releng

When myself and the other Release Engineering interns started, we were pretty overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we had to know and to do in order to be productive. Our manager, Laura, noticed this and asked us to figure out how the team could improve.

We felt that the problems we were having were symptoms of the same problem that has led to Mozilla Releng having historically low numbers of outside contributors compared with other Mozilla teams. We thought that treating new hires like new contributors would be a great way for us to kill two birds with one stone, while increasing transparency and making other Mozillians more aware of what we do.

We’ve been making great progress over the last couple of weeks, so here’s some highlights.

  • Possibly the biggest public facing change: I’ve written a new Contributor’s Guide which should go some way into giving new contributors more actionable direction and help them feel more at ease.

  • I’ve added Release Engineering to Josh Matthews’s excellent What Can I Do For Mozilla?

  • Anhad put a huge amount of work into marking outstanding bugs in Funsize as Good First/Mentored Bugs.

  • John shipped Tupperware which is an awesome step in the right direction for getting Releng development environments on new contributor’s machines painlessly.

  • I pulled what I learned about Dustin’s new RelengAPI into a handy template for new applications.

These changes have already had a great impact. We’ve had 2 new contributors reach out in the past two weeks, with one patch about to land in Funsize. We’ve got a ways to go, especially in improving documentation and our selection of mentored bugs, but it’s been great to get such immediate positive feedback.