Mozilla at Demo Camp Toronto

Beltzner emailed me last week to see if I could fill-in for him at Demo Camp--thanks for the 3 day notice, Mike! He was scheduled to talk about managing distributed development, and I modified that slightly to focus on how to get involved with the project, and showed various points of entry for new contributors. My goal was to demythologize the idea of participation in open source projects, and help people see that you don't have to be an open source god to become a valuable member of a community.

Being Demo Camp, I was obliged to show something cool, and luckily I had some neat things to show from work my students are doing. I started with a demo of Minefield patched with Andrew's APNG changes (the Stickmen demo he hacked together with a hex editor was particularly well received). It was great having Andrew there in the crowd so I could redirect applause to him for all this good work. The demo prompted a discussion of how one gets changes into the trunk, the review process, etc.

I also showed Ben's work on making buildbot play nicely with Mozilla. For this demo I showed parallel waterfall views of tinderbox and a buildbot farm at Seneca that's being used to build Places. I think this one was harder for some to grasp in the few minutes I spent on it, but it was nice to have some UI to show in order to highlight that you can get involved in things outside the browser-core.

Next I showed Dave's Buggy Bar extension and talked about the opportunity for extensions and web developers to get involved with Mozilla. I don't think everyone there was aware of the potential for web developers to move into chrome and use their xml/css/js skills to target the browser itself. One woman, a user-interface designer, asked if there was any work for people who aren't developers but want to work purely on UI. It would have been nice to have connected her with Beltzner on this, but I did my best to discuss the spectrum of work in this area.

Finally, to make my point that there are all sorts of ways to get involved, I showed the work Lukas is doing under Sheppy's guidance to port our CSS Guide over to devmo in order to fill-out the missing properties. It was great to have everything from C/C++ to Python to XUL to Technical Docs in the mix in order to prove the diversity of the project's contributors.

This was my first time at Demo Camp, and it was a huge event--there were easily 150 people crammed into the bar, making the -27 C weather outside more tolerable. My only criticism is that there was no way to do Mozilla justice in 10 minutes; maybe that just points out how many great things there are to say about it.