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Painting the bikeshed


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In March of 2011 I was named as the first initiative owner for Drupal 8. I was excited and proud and itching to get going, but I felt one emotion more than any other - paralyzing fear. The Drupal …

In March of 2011 I was named as the first initiative owner for Drupal 8. I was excited and proud and itching to get going, but I felt one emotion more than any other - paralyzing fear. The Drupal community is filled with talented engineers, but moving from coder to project manager and community leader can be incredibly difficult. This session will outline some of the lessons I've learned about our community and the ways to (or more often not to) get it moving towards a goal.

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  • \n
  • Five years in Drupal this week\nFormer maintainer of Deploy and Services modules\nFormerly employed at and NodeOne, currently funemployed\nDrupal 8 configuration management initiative owner\n‘heyrocker’ on every site in existence\n
  • Attempt to create a slightly more formalized process around important projects\nReally, initiative owners are PMs\nBut each is running differently\nFirst initiative owner, first time driving a big project like this, massive learning experience\n\n
  • Parkinson’s Law of Triviality\nPeople comment on what they can understand, which leaves important but more complicated issues ignored\nBuilding a nuclear power plant vs building a bike shed\nMuch of it is driven by desire not to look dumb, which is interesting given how generally brilliant our community is\nsee also: Dunning Kruger syndrome\n
  • We can’t just not have discussions, and people do have things to say\nEmbedded in every bikeshed is important information and people saying smart things\nExample: json.php\nImportant not to get married to implementations\n
  • Masks important issues, focuses energy on trivialities\nInherent insolubility causes immense frustration amongst participants \nThis frustration often leads to anger and lashing out and then it just becomes soul sucking\nDiscussions become impossible to get a high-level overview of, makes it super difficult for core maintainers\nRecent examples: PSR-0 for modules, file formats for configuration\n\n
  • So I was thrown into this job, I’m the first initiative owner, I just started working and trying to get things done. One of the things that happened early in this process was a horrific bikeshed that shattered my drive and wasted around three months of time. (description) However, I also had some discussions that came out really well and did some things that worked. Here is some of that.\n
  • ‘Minimum viable product’, people hate this term because it sounds like something PMs say\nUse it to focus issues and blow off the rest\nA sword you can wield to strip away the fat\nExample: language vs context\n\n
  • One of the first things Dries suggested to me\nGets your mind around existing implementations, stuff proven to work\nProvides a baseline for discussion\n
  • One of the most toxic aspects of bikeshedding is they never end\nEspecially true on technical topics with competing benefits, no clear advantage\nA solution to this is to set a time limit on how long discussions will go\nDoesn’t have to be strict, can let things progress if good discussion is happening, but it also puts a stake in the ground forcing people to get in on it now (I still have people commenting on the file format discussions)\nThere is some community blowback about this but I think we’ll start seeing it more and more, has a lot of support (naming, dries in UX decisions)\n\n
  • By defining an initial position, you provide a frame of reference\nWhen you post a question with no (or multiple) options, things can spiral really quickly\n
  • Corollary: Our tools suck\nMembership is scattered\nUsing either gdo or the issue queue for long discussions is painful\nFace to face time re-humanizes everything, allows more focus, is invairably more productive\nCan be hard due to distributed nature of our community, but can make it work if you try (sponsorship of sprints, drupalcons, etc)\n
  • Don’t give up\nAt some point something always works out (even if its just through attrition)\nSometimes good things come out of it (pounard story)\nFinally, if all else fails...\n
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  • Transcript

    • 1. Kittens and UnicornsPainting the Bikeshed: Lessonsfrom a Drupal 8 Initiative Owner Presented by Greg Dunlap (@heyrocker)
    • 2. Who the hell are you?
    • 3. What is a Drupal initiative?`
    • 4. What’s the deal with bikesheds?
    • 5. But people do need their voices heard
    • 6. Left alone bikeshedding is toxic
    • 7. 5 Lessons
    • 8. Lesson 1: Define your MVP
    • 9. Lesson 2: Get off the island
    • 10. Lesson 3: Timebox
    • 11. Lesson 4: Put a stake in the ground
    • 12. Lesson 5: Facetime can solve all the things
    • 13. Bonus Lesson: This too shall pass
    • 14. Webchick knows how to use a gun now
    • 15. FollowupsThe Future of Drupal Governance - Randy Fay, tomorrow 2:15, Blackmesh
    • 16. Questions
    • 17. What did you think? Locate this session on the DrupalCon Denver website Click the “Take the Survey” link. Thank You!