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Mar 01 2021
Mar 01

Open-source has the power to change the world, but, as we depend on it for democratic innovation, open-source also depends on us to thrive. At Axelerant, we know and own this; hence we’re constantly engaging in different open web communities, including Drupal’s.

Why are we writing this? First of all, we are always keen to shine a light on our team members because our people-first culture makes Axelerant succeed. Second, in a knowledge sharing spirit, we are willing to put out what has worked for us (and what we struggle with) regarding contributing and our community involvement.

We are celebrating Drupal’s 20th Anniversary, and we are proud of being part of that history for over a decade. What better way to celebrate than recognizing and sharing the stories of the people involved, the makers that keep the ball rolling.  

Hussain Aabbas

Hussain Abbas
Director of Drupal Services

"Celebrating our people and the community has been among our values since the beginning. Drupal’s 20th anniversary is one of those occasions where both of these values come together in demonstrating Axelerant’s commitment to be a productive part of the amazing Drupal community through its team."

Here, we want to share a few stories from team members who recently contributed and inspired us with their Drupal journey.

Lessons learned in our Monthly Contribution Meetups

We started Monthly Contribution Meetups in 2019 to foster a culture of mentoring and giving back. Our goal is to get more people contributing to Drupal consistently and provide the tools to those who want to do it for the first time. These meetings are an excellent space to seek out support, share findings, learn, and bring the opportunity to know other team members, their Drupal journeys, and motivations. From these sharings, we continue to grasp the familiar obstacles people encounter when contributing, ideas on how to surpass them, and the benefits that come with getting involved. 

screenshot of Axelerant team's zoom meeting

November’s monthly contribution meetup

Thirst for learning overcomes time constraints

Hansa-Pandit

Hansa Pandit
Frontend Engineer - L2

“I was first introduced to Olivero reading about it on different blogs. That caught my eye. I read the documentation, got my set up ready, jumped right into a coding sprint, and assigned myself an issue. I wanted to work on a feature, so when the theme went into the core, I would be able to say: that is the part I built.”

Hansa has been on Drupal.org for over two years, and besides other contributions, she’s been actively involved with the Olivero theme initiative

Time management was a big challenge for Hansa, especially since she gave Olivero the same priority level as other work-related projects. But the logic was clear; she knew that if she was investing her time towards contribution, she needed to benefit from it by learning.

And she declares the experience made her technically stronger, “I learned a lot of new skills. Other projects I worked on supported specific client's needs. Still, for Olivero, we had to make sure we were theming every single module supported by Drupal while making sure we met all the accessibility standards.”

And Olivero is now in core, we are proud of Hansa, and we celebrate her and everyone involved in this achievement.  

Find the right initiative, and don’t do it for the credit

mohit-aghera

Mohit Aghera 
PHP/Drupal Architect - L1

It is important to focus on learning and exploring instead of doing it for the credits: “I decided to focus on this initiative because I was interested in learning about writing test cases for Drupal Core. It was a quick way to get introduced to this, and also a great opportunity to explore almost every feature of the core, instead of focusing on a specific module.”

Mohit is one of our most experienced Drupal engineers and contributors; hence he’s continuously mentoring the team. In our last meetup, he explained his motivations and experience with the Bug Smash Initiative; “it’s a great initiative to devote energy to, because it is well managed. Maintainers do an excellent job triaging issues,” he argued. We often hear that not knowing where to start or feeling overwhelmed by the issue queue translates into demotivation within weeks. Counting on careful planning and mentoring makes life easier for everyone, which is why finding the right initiative becomes essential.  

A second factor to consider while contributing is the right motivation. We always remind ourselves of the opportunities that come with contributing for personal branding, sharing your work, showcasing a visible portfolio, and “ultimately if you want to learn Drupal Core, contributing is the best way to do it” he insists. 

Clear expectations help first-time contributors

Abhay-Saraf

Abhay Saraf
PHP/Drupal Engineer - L2

When asked what could be done differently to motivate others to join these sprints, he told us, “being clear about expectations and providing resources that display a step by step before the event would make the experience less intimidating.”

As founding members of the Drupal India Association, we also look to align our mentoring and contribution efforts with India’s larger Drupal community. Organizing and hosting monthly contribution weekends is one way to boost a sustainable contribution culture, and Abhay recently joined this initiative for the first time. From his experience, we confirmed that meeting folks, running into smiling faces, and having the space to give back without the pressure of getting lost or making a mistake is fundamental to onboard newcomers. “I had a good experience because I already had a list of prioritized issues. I could work with a free mind since I knew that I'd get the guidance needed if I had any doubts. Also, I liked the flexibility of this event, it goes on for a day, you can dedicate any amount of time you can, even if it is just an hour, it would still be worthwhile,” he shared.

Contribution = Recognition = More contribution

Gaurav-Kapoor

Gaurav Kapoor 
PHP/Drupal Engineer - L2

Gaurav's efforts were rewarded with a scholarship to attend DrupalCon Amsterdam 2019. Through this contribution journey, he gained vast Drupal knowledge, “now I focus on mentoring and sharing knowledge, so others can also leverage all you can gain from contributing,” he says. 

Gaurav’s Drupal journey started right after college when he decided to leverage his spare time by joining a two-person startup. After learning Drupal, he soon realized that contributing to the community would build the company’s reputation as trusted experts, and that was the initial driver. Eventually, what sparked a community spirit was getting noticed and recognized. He’s been ranked among the top 30 contributors and recognized in Dries’post about Who sponsors Drupal development? for the past three years.

Events and the power of networking

kunal-kursija.jpg

Kunal Kursija
PHP/Drupal Engineer - L3

Kunal has the habit of surfing through different channels that list upcoming events (DrupicalDrupal.orgDrupal Slack), so when we found out about BADCamp 2020’s call for papers, he decided to go for it. A two-way process started, “I began to review everything I had learned recently or topics I wanted to learn about”, from there Kunal came up with a list of topics and submitted them.

 

Speaking at events has many benefits, especially to those interested in being seen as an authority in their fields. Presenting sessions nourishes the community with knowledge and best practices and builds the speaker’s reputation and network. That was certainly the case for Kunal. “I first heard about BADCamp while attending DrupalCamp London. Someone I met there told me BADCamp is one of the best Drupal events. That image struck me and has stayed with me since then.” 

 “Of course, it was exciting to learn my session had been selected. I was disappointed I couldn’t attend the event in person. However, I enjoyed getting introduced to other BADCamp speakers, and it was great to participate in such a big and important event.”

To many more years of Drupal

We recognize our monthly meetups serve the purpose of keeping an ongoing conversation around contributions, inspire and support team members and promote those who actively get involved. Our team works with a contribution-first approach, and this practice grants us a place at the top of the ranking of organizations supporting Drupal. And yet, there's more we need to do to build up a sustainable contributing culture. We still find that most people that haven't contributed before can judge the onboarding process as too arduous, and time constraints follow soon after. Even with mentorship support available, the steep learning curve poses a hurdle to conquer.

We are continually discussing and exploring initiatives to encourage contribution, from creating a role for a full-time contributor to gamification aspects around tracking contributions or mentoring team members on the bench between projects. 

Today we introduced a selected few stories, evidence that sustains again and again that the key ingredient and the strength of this 20-year-old open-source project are people.

We are excited to be part of this celebration and would love to hear about your contribution strategies and ideas. What’s your preferred way to give back to Drupal?

Don’t forget to join the celebration on social media!

P.S. See you at the Global Contribution Weekend happening 29-31 January 2021.

Mar 01 2021
Mar 01

I joined Axelerant with the thrilling purpose of cultivating and fostering their participation and contribution to the Drupal community. And I did, with a defying obstacle: I don’t code and until then I had only heard a few things about Drupal.

As soon as I began this journey, I verified that Drupal (the technology) is completely interlinked with the community that sustains it. To understand one you must know the other. Though you can get a kick out of reading about the advantages of headless Drupal or the improvements that will come with the release of D10, it is obvious that what holds the project together is the willingness of its members to advance, connect, and share knowledge. Hence, the motto “Come for the code, stay for the community.”

Everybody has their first time

In every community, face-to-face encounters are essential to solidify our personal and professional bonds. They are mandatory to get the true sense of a community. Therefore, as soon as I embarked on this endeavor I knew I needed to add an event experience to my Drupal immersion.

Yet, the global crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic is forbidding us all to attend large and exciting live events. Was I supposed to meet this need online, while surfing a context of widespread virtual fatigue? The truth is that, although we are all a little tired of facing our screens, technology has proven its capability of bringing us close, even eliminating borders. As a result, I decided to sign up for free for my first Drupal Camp, and I was lucky to have debuted with my attendance at the Bay Area Drupal Camp, or BADCamp, which describes itself as the world’s raddest Drupal camp.

Pierina at BAD Camp 2020

Travelling from Buenos Aires to the world’s raddest Drupal camp

The Bay Area Drupal Camp is “An annual celebration of open-source software normally based in Berkeley, California” that has already trained over 3,000 Drupalers. This year, for their very first time, they went the extra mile and went fully virtual from October 14th to 17th.

From day one, the organizers ensured the attendees were aware of the Drupal Code of Conduct, and indeed all the interactions I had and the overall environment were imbued with respect and collaboration.

The first couple of days were exclusively for summits and training. I joined for the last two days of the event to attend sessions. The schedule offered a wide variety of topics for all levels of experience, which allowed me to achieve my goal: understanding the full range of knowledge-sharing and learning that happens in these events, without feeling like an outsider. I was able to participate in meetings related to non-code contributions from which I earned valuable resources.

Thank you for making it happen!

Thanks to the organizers and volunteers who made it happen. Surely it would have been easier to suspend the event until next year, but you took the time and effort to carry it through and the result was impeccable.

609

Registrations

515

Attendees

32

Countries

Congratulations!

What I experienced at BADCamp 2020

Two experienced Drupal contributors from Axelerant participated at BADCamp as speakers: Mohit Aghera and Kunal Kursija. Obviously, I wanted to watch them in action. Their sessions were tagged as “Drupal for beginners”, and they both had over 20 attendees to their meetings. It was very compelling to see how they interacted with the audience, covering concepts as well as practical tips and showcasing live-demos. They answered all questions and provided further examples when needed, and of course, in an open-source collaborative spirit, shared their slides and links to the sample code repositories.

Go ahead, relive the sessions, and check out the resources.

 

 
This will be helpful both for site builders and developers. 

  

Learn about the very tiny, mighty and hidden gems of Drupal, "filters", that process and display the user-submitted content. 

As I was planning my schedule, I literally felt this session title was talking to me. Baddy did a great job explaining specific ways you can contribute to Drupal beyond code. And she managed to make it appealing, sharing her own journey choosing non-code contributions even though she has the needed technical skills. Thanks to her inspiring talk, I realized I can offer valuable support by pitching in with these kinds of contributions. So, if you like to design, you’re good at organizing projects or events, you enjoy writing, reviewing, or translating content, find out how you can help here

This session offered valuable insights towards building the marketing arm of an open-source project, highlighting the importance of storytelling, both within the community and towards external audiences. Suzanne stressed the need to pinpoint whom the Drupal community is talking to, and how to adapt marketing efforts to different personas (from developers encountering Drupal for the first time, but also to marketers and evaluators that won’t ever install Drupal but occupy decision-making positions in organizations). I personally engaged with the idea of telling better stories around code contributions within the community. Good stories are easier to amplify, and knowing the people behind the code makes it straightforward to relate and is always inspiring. Stories boost empathy, motivation and sense of belonging; all things that foster a healthy culture in any community.

The Promote Drupal Initiative already produced valuable resources in this direction: the Drupal brand book (setting design elements but also the tone of voice and the brand personality) and marketing materials such as press releases, pitch decks, and one-pagers. Visit the Promote Drupal page to download the resources and/or if you want to contribute to the Drupal brand.


Overall, I had a rich experience, I witnessed first-hand the power of innovation and knowledge-sharing behind Open Source and I now have proof that the Drupal community is guided by a culture of openness, respect, and collaboration.

P.S 1: If you’re interested in web content accessibility, I recommend you watch this session to learn interesting insights, tools, and distinctions between accessibility, usability, and authentic digital inclusion. Check out the video here.

P.S 2: Thanks again to the BADCamp organizers for including the farm tour and the pet meet & greet, it was a creative and conscious way to mitigate virtual fatigue.

Check out all the recorded sessions of BADCamp 2020 here.

About Drupal Sun

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