You can contribute to Drupal core. Yes, you!
I’ve always wanted to contribute to Drupal core. The vibrant community of self organizing volunteers was one of the things that first drew me to Drupal back in 2008, and giving back to that community has been an important goal ever since. Even as I’ve grown from a casual Drupal user, to site builder, to a custom module developer, to an author of patches for contributed modules, the idea of contributing to the main actual real Drupal has somehow remained daunting to me.
Well that all changed when I attended a core sprint for Drupal 8, Drupal at the Jersey Shore! With the help of Cathy Theys, Sean Walsh and many other fine Drupalists, I was finally able to submit my first patch in Drupal core. Huzzah!
Here’s some things I learned in the process.
1. You don’t need to be an expert programmer to contribute to core.
It’s easy to be intimidated by the sheer size and complexity of Drupal, but in reality a huge portion of Drupal core development consists of small, mundane tasks that practically anyone can do. There is no shortage of work for those looking to style, test, and document new core components. To make your life even easier, beginner tasks are specifically tagged in the Drupal issue queue.
In fact, one of the best ways you can contribute to Drupal is not by writing code, but by reviewing code written by others. Every patch must be reviewed before it can be committed, and anyone who understands patch’s functional goal (not just the committer) can review a patch. There’s never a shortage of patches waiting for review, and helping to deal with the backlog it an essential part of inching closer to a Drupal 8 release.
2. Even if you are an expert programmer, contributing to Drupal is its own skill set.
There’s tons of resources for learning the art of Drupal contribution, but sufficient to say, there are a great deal of nuances and cultural conventions that govern behavior in the Drupal issue queue. It can be a lot to get your head around, but once you’ve done it once or twice, it snaps into focus.
3. The Drupal community is really amazing, and really welcoming.
I’ll be honest, even though my patch did practically nothing, I was really excited about it, because it was my first. I was very touched by the fact that the other attendees of the sprint were just as excited about it. Cathy Theys tweeted about it that very day, Sean Walsh wrote about it on the official event page and numerous people reached out to me on IRC and in person to offer their congrats. To receive such a warm and open welcome at the core sprint was humbling, and deeply touching. It’s the sort of thing that makes me want to keep coming back.