Drupalcon Barcelona 2016 - Day 3

Drupal Developer, Drupal Evangelist, Co-operative Champion

Thursday was the final day of sessions at Drupalcon, and in a slight departure from previous years, the day started with two keynote speakers from within community rather than from outside.

Talk is silver, code is gold? Contribution beyond source code in Drupal

The first of the two keynotes was from David Rozas, who was invited to present some of the research findings from his PhD on the Drupal community and Commons-Based Peer Production at the University of Surrey. Firstly I was impressed that someone was doing a PhD on Drupal, but the fact that it was specifically about the community made me sit up and listen hard, which was just as well as he talked even faster than I do and had a hell of a lot of facts. I will try to find a link to his slides, as they went by pretty fast but conveyed some good info. He mentioned that the the future of open source survey 2015 pretty much says that ‘open source has won’ with 78% of companies confirming that they run on some or all open source.

He went on to talk about “a new model of socio-economic production in which groups of loosely connected individuals co-operative with each other to produce meaningful products without hierarchical organisation...” which sounds kind of familiar! The naming of the concept of ‘ant-rival’ was new to me, enshrined as “the more we use, the more other people benefit”. I must admit that this is often an important argument in use to convince myself to try to use open source software where there might be a slightly easier tool or solution that is proprietary, perhaps as a trial of ‘free’ version, but not open source. The more I use it and report back to the developers the better the software will become.

The next part I picked up on was his polarisation of objective and community contributions. Objective contributions being tangible work such as code, docs etc. and community contributions being local meetups, DrupalCamps, volunteering, community training, IRC conversations etc. He points out the the community contributions are far less visible but almost certainly not less valuable. As the global community scales, the local meetups are absolutely key to generating and maintaining a sense of community. (Note to self, do more at OXDUG).

We need a new way to measure value in the community that includes community contributions, to which he points us at p2pvalue.eu. Highlighting mentors as a current example, we look at the profile page on Drupal.org, which have recently changed from listing username to displaying  Github profile images of people that a given user cites as their mentors.

Key takeaways:

  • We need to value non 'objective' contributions much more.
  • As the Drupal community grows, this will be ever more important.
  • Local Drupal meetups are key.

Mental Health and Open Source

Mike Bell was the second keynote, which was as touching as it was important and earned a well deserved standing ovation. He talked to us about the importance of mental health in the open source world and in life in general. Mike suffered something along the lines of a breakdown in the last couple of years which changed his world pretty much overnight, leaving him unable to work and with anxiety, depression and imposter syndrome. He is much better these days, thanks to family, friends, work, CBT and medication and I have much respect for anyone who can stand up in front of 2000 people. It is probably better to watch his keynote from the recording than for me to relate every last detail, but you’ll need to skip forward to about 49 mins to get to the start of Mike’s talk.

One point I will mention was how Mike highlighted the word health in mental health, pointing out that through stigmatisation the word health tends to get lost. We all need to look after our own and each other's mental health and perhaps even more so in a community of enthusiasts who end up dedicating lots of extra time to Drupal, both in and outside of paid work. This got me thinking a little more about the ways that we can do that more at Agile Collective. We have started surveying the team on a weekly basis to check in on general team morale, which is a great start, but perhaps something a little more prescriptive may help us to uncover any issues early and catch them before they grow too large. This is certainly something I will take back to the rest of the team at Agile Collective, so thank you Mike for sharing your experiences!

Key takeaways:

  • We all need to be more aware of our own and each other’s mental health.
  • Recognise how you feel and ask for help if you need it. You can talk to your GP about anything, and it is confidential, which is good to know if you don’t feel you can talk to work, family friends.
  • Could we have regular mental health checkups at work?
  • Positive feedback for contribution is incredibly important.
  • Burnout - plan how to avoid it both in the workplace and in the community.

How Drupal 8 builds your pages

This was an unexpected little gem, introducing the module / tool that is Webprofiler. As stated on the session page “The Webprofiler module can help you in understanding how all the new fancy things in Drupal 8 interact to convert a request in a response. “

I installed it quickly on a local Drupal 8 site and played along as we were walked through the various steps of the Drupal 8 request pipeline.

Key takeaways:

Visual Regression Testing

Speaker: amitaibu

Summary: we suck at what we do, we break our design once every 10 days by deploying new functionality, developers are afraid of the live site, for testing pingdom is often the best we do so “How do you know your site is working?”

Enter: http://shoov.io/ (apparently ‘shoov’ means ‘again’ in Hebrew).

Shoov is a fully open source project by Amitai and Gizra that makes it easy to perform automated visual regression tests. Basically this boils down to taking an screenshot of your page at a given point, ie. when your design is looking good. It then uses webdrivercss (open source from people at sauce labs) to take further images and compare the original with the new image, pixel by pixel, highlighting any changes.

Some clever pieces of functionality:

  • can host this yourself, or use the hosted option
  • can test using browserstack on multiple browsers and operating systems
  • deals with dynamic content:
    • we can exclude, remove, hide elements through dom selector
  • visual diff can be run against different environments
    • live / staging / dev / browserstack
  • shoov doesn't mind what language tests are written in

Amitai raised the standard objection that it “doesn’t provide 100% coverage” if we are only testing some of the page, to which he counters that 40% is better than 0% (with suitably humourous expletives in a way that I think only Amitai can carry off at a Drupalcon).

Key take aways:

  • Visual regression testing could save a hell of a lot of time in cross browser testing.
  • Implementing visual regressing testing even on a single page of a production site could help to avoid nasty surprises when deploying updates.

So that's all from Drupalcon this year. Were you there? What were your favourite sessions?