In a timely confluence with Mozilla’s new Steward initiative, I’m preparing to get some community contributors engaged with some of the projects we work on in Release Engineering. A fair amount of our production infrastructure has to be locked behind VPN and sekrit passwords (we have 400+ million users to protect) but there are more and more RelEng side projects. We provide tools to the larger developer community and solve interesting scalability challenges with our unique (and massive) automation systems that can be worked on by any interested person in their own local test environment and then integrated into our /build repos. My personal goal is to try and get 2 or 3 regular community contributors to come work with us on tackling these.
In order to solicit contributions I have been working with David Boswell. We added Release Engineering to the mozilla.org/contribute ‘areas of interest’ page and I have created the beginnings of a RelEng-specific contribution page. The first two areas that I think would be a great introduction to working with RelEng code & tools are the TryChooser and our upcoming Autoland system. For the latter, our intern Marc Jessome is sticking around this fall as a contributor to carry on the amazing work he put into this system over the summer. He’ll be continuing to debug the code and improve the portability of it so that we can get it into a beta testing stage by the end of October. As that work is being done we also need someone to help us write the API functionality that will allow sheriffs and developers to write tools that utilize this new hands-off landing queue. We’d also be happy to have people work on the issues that come up when we take Autoland to the next level – auto-landing on a production branch. To do this we’ll want some automated backing out, bisection, and the ability to wait on getting patches reviewed before continuing.
Another great area for someone interested in helping out Firefox developers is working on the TryChooser syntax and features. There is a whole tracking bug dedicated to try_enhancements and most of those bugs are ones that can be worked on in a local staging environment. It’s a chance to get your feet wet with buildbot and our custom scheduling setup. Some of these smaller bugs would be short on time commitment and high on developer appreciation if you fix them. That can be a winning combination for a new contributor, I speak from experience on that 🙂
So, if you’re reading this post and you or someone you know is interested in dipping their toes into becoming a Mozilla contributor and these projects make you curious then come find me and we’ll get you set up with a staging environment so that you can start fixing real world tools and automation bugs in no time.