This is guest post from one of webdev’s awesomesauce community contributors: Nigel Babu. nigelb contributes to a bunch of Mozilla’s web apps including Firefox Input and Socorro. He writes about Mozilla and open source on his blog and hangs out on
#webdev on IRC — where we often talk about motorcycles.
At Mozcamp Asia, Tim Watts and I talked about contributing to Mozilla Webdev. When I met Tim, he asked me how I got started and what were some of the challenges I faced. This blog post is a summary of those challenges and a few solutions to help new contributors to Mozilla Webdev. This is also a condensed summary of our session, so if you missed it don’t feel too bad 🙂
Finding a Project
“I Don’t Know What to Do”
It’s not easy to find something to do. I can attest to that. I know I had some trouble as well. Once you have found a project to help with, it becomes easier finding something to do. You could look at bugs with [good first bug] in the whiteboard — they’re generally good to start with. Another idea is to follow all the bugs for that project (bugmail can be noisy: set a filter or get ready for inbox explosion), so you can pick new bugs as they come in. Being in the project’s IRC channel also helps immensely. When fellow webdevs and Web QA learn that you are a new contributor and want something to do, they’ll be happy to point you to easy bugs or subscribe you to easy ones they see.
Finding a Mentor
While finding a mentor is not strictly necessary; however, it helps when you can ping someone to help you. When you find a project, some of the developers on that project are good candidates to mentor you. Feel free to ping the maintainers/developers for help when you are stuck. There are also the Stewards (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Stewards/Webdev) who can help you find a match: don’t feel shy about asking them to help you out.
Setting up Your Environment
Earlier, this was a challenging experience, sometimes it even seemed downright impossible. With the recent work we’ve done with vagrant, everything is much easier! Almost all new projects have a vagrant-based setup for the development environment and it should be much faster to get you off the ground. When in doubt, ask the project maintainers if there’s a vagrant setup for that project.
These were the 4 things that I faced and helped me start off. If you are interested in being a contributor and something ticked you off, talk to me — in the comments or on IRC. Feel free to reach us on
#webdev on irc.mozilla.org with any questions or if you want to get started in contributing to Mozilla Webdev.