TechHub Manchester signageI spent my Saturday at the first WP Contributor Day. Sold as “An one day event where anyone & everyone contributes to WordPress”. The event, held at TechHub, Manchester was setup and organised by Jenny Wong following a discussion at WordCamp London 2013.

Often, knowing where to start is a challenge. And WordPress is no different. It’s a giant project and for me, I saw this day as an opportunity to push me to finally get involved. It was kicked off by an introduction from Jenny, followed by talks from WordPress co-founder Mike Little and web accessibility expert Graham Armfield.

Mike Little setting up Varying Vagrant Vagrants with Natasha Allsopp and Sue FernandesFollowing the talks, we split into groups. Mike Little introduced Vagrant, and in particular the Varying Vagrant Vagrants (VVV) project. The setup gives developers a kickstart in getting WordPress running locally (without the need to upload files to a hosting account).

Feeling pumped and definitely over-confident, already having used a VVV setup for a while, I sat with a group of developers and looked through Trac for a suitable challenge to tackle. I felt a bit lost to be honest. There were four unclaimed “Good First Bugs” (which taking a look after the event, I see that they all remain unclaimed). I had the same issue Mike experienced earlier during his introductory talk. Reading the history of each ticket lead to a dead end, either the ticket had been actioned or it was questioned whether a fix was even required.

I felt like I was missing a step in between and quickly jumped ship, joining up with a group lead by Graham Armfield looking at accessibility in WordPress. This proved immensely useful. Graham guided us through Trac, looking at a number of issues he’d raised. He shared and demonstrated some of his vast knowledge of the world of accessibility followed by an introduction to his SVN workflow, downloading and applying patches to his local copy of WordPress to test whether an issue had been resolved. Unfortunately, none of the patches could be applied! Despite the fact he’d picked out the tickets in advance, the WordPress codebase moves so fast that all the patches resulted in merge conflicts. However, it was potentially more valuable to see Graham go through a less than perfect example to see the process. In this case, Graham updated the tickets, asking for the patches to be refreshed.

As someone who generally needs a push to get involved, a contributor day is a daunting prospect. However, I got into the flow and found my feet. The day was relaxed and everyone very welcoming and friendly. I look forward to future events and getting involved in WordPress development.

Could future events be even better for people like myself? I guess it comes down to the intended focus, contributing to WordPress or spreading knowledge and introducing beginners into the loop (there’s a WordPress pun in there somewhere). I believe we can have both. Perhaps future events could use more structure. A system of buddying beginners with more seasoned developers, with more “Good First Bugs” or a selection of Trac tickets reviewed beforehand, giving beginners a chance to get stuck in.

Overall the day was enjoyable and there were wins for WordPress. I believe Jenny has been roped into organising another Manchester contributor day and she’s keen for the model to spread to other areas to get more passionate people involved in contributing to WordPress.

Thanks again to the event sponsors, WP Site Care, Delicious Media, Sergey Biryukov, Pressware and especially Human Made who I believe also supplied the pizza! Also, thanks to Tom J Nowell for this post’s featured image!

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