Help triage major bugs at the Florida DrupalCamp or your local camp (yes, you!)

By xjm, February 14, 2017

Florida Drupalcamp 2017 is less than a week away, February 17-19, in vibrant Orlando. Not only is the camp schedule packed with great sessions and trainings, but there's also a contribution sprint that both helps Drupal 8 core maintainers, and gives you a chance to contribute and learn about Drupal 8.

To join the sprint, you should already be familiar with Drupal... and that's it! You don't need to be an expert. You don't need to be a coder. You don't even need to know much about Drupal 8, although a little knowledge helps. This particular sprint is a great fit for:

  • anyone with some Drupal knowledge who is interested in contributing for the first time
  • on-and-off contributors
  • project managers (you will be great at this!)
  • anyone interested in learning more about how Drupal core gets made
  • anyone concerned about Drupal 8 bugs!
  • anyone interested in helping maintainers (or even becoming maintainers someday themselves)

I'm not teasing with that last one, either. This sprint can be rewarding for anyone from a newbie contributor to a core committer. (If you are skeptical about that, join this beginner camp session from Drupal 8's frontend committer, Cottser: One Step at a Time: Lessons Learned from Drupal Newbie to Core Committer.)

If you can't make it to Florida, you can also host the same kind of sprint at your local Drupal camp. Read on for what this sprint is all about, and why it matters for Drupal 8.

Getting our priorities in order

In Drupal core, we define the issue priority of core bugs based on how many users are affected and how severe the problem is, and many contributors respond accordingly to prioritize what is fixed first. Over time, we've refined what specific kinds of bugs are critical, major, or normal priority.

Before we released Drupal 8.0.0 in November 2015, we fixed all the critical bugs we could identify, so that Drupal was safe and production-ready for most users. Our intense focus on fixing those release-blocking issues for such a significant overhaul of Drupal meant that many issues that were not as critical took second place, even though some were still quite problematic. In the past year, now that Drupal 8 has stable releases, we have been able to shift focus to fixing more of the remaining major bugs (as well as adding new features).

Still, there are only so many hours in the day, and many people who've spent time with Drupal before will know how long it can take to find the right bug report! This is where issue triage comes in. The first step to fixing the most important bugs is simply making sure the bug reports are up to date and actionable.

Major triage in 2016

During 2016, with the help of subsystem maintainers and a couple small groups of sprinters, we assessed the status of over 200 major bugs. Of the major bugs we triaged, only about half were confirmed as major priority. Roughly one in three were downgraded to normal priority, and one in twenty turned out to be critical priority. The remainder were no longer relevant.

Graph of Drupal 8 major issue triage results from 2016

Within the past year, the community also fixed over 250 additional major bugs... but more than 200 new ones were filed at the same time. So, while the triaged issues significantly reduce the size of the major issue queue, there is still much more work to be done to catch up. Core maintainers need your help to close the gap.

How you can help

Finding (and fixing) the bugs that are most important is a group effort. We use a two-phase process:

  1. Contributors verify the current status of the major issues, make sure they are up to date, and close issues that are no longer relevant.
  2. Core committers and subsystem maintainers collaborate to assess the verified issues.

Phase 1 is where you come in! This flowchart illustrates the workflow we use at major issue triage sprints:

Flowchart of the major issue triage process
(You can also read the detailed instructions in the major triage meta issue.)

This process can take awhile, but it is great for "unsticking" issues. Plus, once you have triaged an issue as valid, core committers will follow up on it to confirm its priority and make sure you are credited for your triage contribution to the issue on once the bug is fixed.

Once the current state of these bug reports is verified, Drupal 8 core committers and subsystem maintainers will prioritize them, deciding which are indeed major, which are just normal bugs, and even which ones are critical issues in disguise.

DrupalCamp NJ 2017

A week ago, more than 10 sprinters participated in the DrupalCamp New Jersey major triage sprint. We verified numerous issues in the Menu, DateTime, Views, JavaScript, Node, and Update subsystems (and the DateTime major queue is now fully triaged!). Thanks to cilefen, davidhernandez, dinarcon, djdevin, ednawig, mpdonadio, pwolanin, sugaroverflow, techmsi, tim.plunkett, wquiceno, and YesCT for their help at the sprint! (Also: if I missed you on this list, let me know so I can make sure you get issue credit.)

Florida DrupalCamp 2017

The next stop on the major triage international tour is Orlando! Come to the Florida DrupalCamp contribution sprints to join the experience. The main sprint day is Sunday, February 19. Start the weekend off with a training on Friday, attend some fabulous sessions on Saturday, and then come sprint on Sunday -- or, do what DrupalCamp veterans do and hang out sprinting for the whole camp. nerdstein and the amazing YesCT will be right there with you to help you sprint (probably along with other mentors as well). Also be sure to thank ultimike and other camp organizers for hosting the sprint.

Or, organize your own sprint!

Do you have an upcoming local Drupal camp or regional summit? Are your superpowers more for organizing events than testing bugs? Consider hosting a Drupal 8 major issue triage sprint at your event.

To host the sprint, it works best to have a few sprint leads who are either experienced mentors or know Drupal 8, or who have attended another of our Drupal 8 major triage sprints themselves. (Past major triage sprints have been at DrupalCons Los Angeles, Barcelona, Mumbai, and New Orleans, as well as at this year's DrupalCamp New Jersey.)

If you are interested in hosting a core major triage sprint, contact me on I can help you decide if the sprint is a good fit for your event and share ideas.

Let's shine the lights on some bugs!