Report from Cioppino Sprint 2012
I've just returned from yet another memorable Plone event, the 2nd annual Cioppino Sprint. For the past 4 days, twelve of us gathered at a house in lovely Bodega Bay, CA for a weekend of fun, relaxation, and giving back to the Plone community.
The theme of the sprint was improving Plone's documentation and community infrastructure. On the first evening we gathered to brainstorm tasks, which were recorded on sticky notes to be placed on a scrum board indicating which tasks were pending, in progress, and complete. On Saturday, the sprinting began in earnest.
Ross Patterson wrote a tutorial introducing the basics of zc.buildout. He also started investigating what it would take to let Plone be installed by Microsoft's free Web Platform Installer for Windows/IIS.
Luke Brannon and Ross wrote some CSS for reStructuredText "admonishments" (i.e. note/warning/etc. boxes) that will be added to plone.org for when reST documents are rendered. Luke also refactored and tested Windows installation instructions in the knowledgebase, reviewed KB articles for accurate version metadata, and started looking into sorting KB topic pages by Plone version in addition to modified date.
Spanky Kapanka learned how to contribute to the collective developer manual, then worked on writing several quick start guides to walk Plone beginners through specific tasks. He completed one on subclassing a content type and started one on creating a custom form.
Bill Deegan edited the introduction to the collective developer manual for clarity and to present Plone's capabilities in a more positive light alongside the fair warnings of complexity. He also renamed the files in the collective docs to have a .rst extension so they render when viewed on github, and tested Spanky's quick start.
Mike Cullerton learned git and reStructuredText, then worked on a "quick start" guide on customizing views and viewlets.
Liz Leddy worked on a new set of documentation of how to do Plone core development, which will live in the coredev buildout. She also did a lot of cleanup in Plone's trac and moved information and to a new, streamlined "Get Involved" landing page which replaces the front page of trac as an entry point to participating in the Plone community.
Steve McMahon worked on writing a Plone sysadmin manual discussing how to install and configure Plone for deployment scenarios on various platforms. I think he is about two-thirds done and has not published the document yet.
Tyler Randles (of ploneconf panda head fame) and I worked on improving the template for the knowledgebase documentation. We added a box at the top which shows a color-coded warning about the document's version compatibility, and a box at the bottom with a brief invitation to contribute to editing the knowledgebase (you too can help review KB articles to make sure their metadata is correct!). We also created mr.crabby, your blue crabby friend for Plone—can you find him on plone.org? (Hint: search plone.org for info on the Cioppino Sprint.) Tyler also worked on illustrations for Steve's manual.
I, David Glick, also added a version selector to the search forms in the plone.org documentation section, fixed a bug in the knowledgebase permissions so that articles are actually editable by the right people (i.e. anyone logged in), reviewed some of Liz's core dev docs, added i18n support to plone.supermodel and plone.registry's GenericSetup import handler in order to fix a Plone 4.2 blocker, and did some planning about how to better organize Dexterity's documentation.
Fulvio Casali reviewed and tried out the existing Dexterity documentation and created a detailed list of suggested improvements which will be very helpful.
Florian Friesdorf wrote instructions for setting up a Plone development environment using nix, and added support for paged searches to pas.plugins.ldap.
Eric Steele worked on getting Plone 4.2 ready for final release, including a lot of work on the new-style collections. (It needed some work on the date criteria for feature parity with the existing collections, and some work to make sure that Plone's default news and event collections are the new style.) By the end of the sprint Eric announced that there are no more blockers for the second release candidate!
Hanno Schlichting joined the #sprint IRC channel remotely and continued his quest for an improved ZCatalog. He suggested some catalog optimizations for plone.org which I will hopefully review soon, and implemented two long-desired new features: "not" queries and sorting results by multiple indexes.
Lola and Zoey, the dogs, sprinted along the beach and made themselves generally lovable.
A highlight of the sprint for many of us was the food. Mike made homemade pizzas and introduced us to whoopie pies with habanero. Spanky prepared breakfast after wonderful breakfast, including his recently perfected Hollandaise for eggs benedict with crab cakes. For snacks we had Luke's guacamole and Spanky and Tyler's invention of tater tot-bacon-pepperjack cheese bites. I baked sourdough bread to go with Steve's cioppino featuring fresh crab, mussels and clams, and Liz made a great chili that was dubbed "Holy Crap!" Some of these recipes have been posted to the sprint mailing list so look for them there.
Another highlight for me was participating in my first "code dojo." This is a technique for sharing knowledge where a group gathers to complete a task surrounding a single big TV or projector screen. One person gets to control the keyboard, another person tells the typist what to do, and everyone else can be consulted for advice. We used this technique to work toward solving issue 12796, as an exercise in how to fix a bug in Plone core for those who hadn't done so before (and as a "functional test" of Liz's new documentation of this process). We didn't have time to complete the task, but I think everyone had fun and learned something new (within the first five minutes I learned a new bash keyboard shortcut!).
One thing that did not happen at the sprint was a clear designation of a revitalized documentation team to make sure that our documentation is well-managed on an ongoing basis. Personally I feel that this is a role that is lacking in the community—Mikko and others are doing a fantastic job of getting people to add and update documentation in the collective developer manual, but I there is a need for a more focused manual and introductory documentation for people who are trying to learn Plone development for the first time rather than looking up particular tasks or topics—communally edited documentation is inevitably of varying quality and relevance, and newbies have no way to judge that. There is also a need to make sure that old documents are updated or marked as obsolete as appropriate. It's not entirely surprising that we've lacked this editing, as it is a thankless task (everyone can get excited about new documentation; someone always hates you when you delete something). I don't have answers but I hope we can brainstorm as a community about how to solve this problem (or maybe you can convince me I've diagnosed the wrong problem.)
But despite a lack of resolution of those questions, the sprint was a success in the realms of both fun and productivity. Thanks to the participants for a fantastic experience, to the Plone Foundation for sponsoring our lodging, and I look forward to seeing you at Cioppino 2013 if not before!
p.s. A special thanks to Spanky who provided a limo pickup and lodging to Fulvio and me after our train was canceled and we had to change travel plans at the last minute!