Meet the CMS Release Team
Last month, as the start of a new series, we introduced ourselves, the Joomla Community Magazine Team. This month we have the pleasure to get to know the CMS Release Team, the people who make sure every new release of Joomla goes as smoothly as possible. Pleased to meet you, CMS Release Team!
What is the team’s main goal?
Sigrid Gramlinger: The CMS Release team is responsible for coordinating all aspects of Joomla! CMS releases. Also, one main task is to test CMS Release Candidates (RC) extensively on complex testing environments. In the last years, we were mainly testing the RC packages. These packages are published about a week before the release. That is when testers start to test the packages on real live installations - of course on a copy in development environments.
In the last year, the team got more active with regular meetings and we tried to work closely with the release leads - to support them. In the past, especially with Joomla 4.0 development as well as the bridge release 3.10, I think there was too much burden on individuals. So, now with Benjamin Trenkle who is the release lead of 4.1 we are starting a closer dialogue with more feedback circles.
Our team is also one that sees security patches before they are published. We test the final release packages a day or two before the actual release.
What is your place in Joomla’s ecosphere?
Sigrid: We are a team within the Production Department. Our team is a good mix of long time Joomla integrators and all release leads. We have liaisons to maintenance, marketing, documentation, and other teams.
Stefan: You can see us as an interface between the developers and the users. Good source code is nothing without real tests.
What roles do you have within the team?
Sigrid: Of course we have
- the release leads who actually create the release packages and of course are overviewing what happens in the code and on github.
- the testers who take the RC and final packages and test them.
Team members: introduce yourself please :)
Sigrid: I have been in the team since April 2019 and became Team Lead in November 2020. I take part in the Production Department meetings every second week. When I joined the team first I was wondering why it was called CMS “Release” Team because we were only testing releases. We could have been called the CMS “Testing” Team. But with regular meetings we are now changing our role and taking up responsibilities for a Release team.
Stefan Wendhausen: Hi, I’m Stefan. I joined the Release Team in July 2019 and became Sigrid's deputy in November 2020. I support the team with many tests on real systems and am available for questions or assistance. In Sigrid's absence, I also sometimes take over a meeting call. But that doesn't really happen with Sigrid :)
Jenn Gress: I’m Jenn. I test new releases before they go out to the world as best I can. I’m mainly focused on the 3.10.x release at this point. I ask for a post to go on the forum and via social media for RCs as well.
Niels Braczek: I joined the team just recently in my capacity as Maintainer (Release Lead) of the Framework to facilitate the alignment of the needs of the CMS and the features of the framework.
Rachel Walraven: My membership to the team is quite recent. I think it was early this year or at the end of 2020 that I joined as an official member. My main task is to test releases before they go out. At the moment that goes for Joomla 3 as well as Joomla 4. In our meetings we discuss and find ways to improve the release process and the communication around it.
Claudia Weber-Lenck: I joined the team in May 2021. I also test new releases. This could be at the moment 3.10.x, 4.0.x or 4.1.x. I like to discover and test new features in Joomla.
Phil Walton: I joined August 2016 and helped to introduce a few of the test sheets when I was team lead. Was so pleased to see Sigrid Gramlinger agree to take on the role and to watch it grow in numbers and expand its remit.
How often do you have meetings, and how do they take place?
We have meetings every three weeks - one meeting is just a day or two after an official release and the next one is in the middle between two releases. Usually, we meet on Google Meet for about 60 mins. Sigrid tries to provide a short agenda and will summarize a meeting report that is also published at the volunteers portal. In between meetings, we discuss everything in our Glip team channel. There might be little communication between the meetings but about 10 days before the release the team is getting very active.
What tools do you use to work together?
Sigrid: For the overview and documentation of our testing activities we just use a Google sheet where we have a long list of Joomla functionalities. Everybody marks the Joomla version and what part they are testing. This is how we can spread our testing more evenly.
We cannot test everything - that would be too much, but we try to do as much as possible. There are also automated tests for PRs at Github, however this automated testing happens only on blank Joomla core code.
Our manual testing happens in copies of real live installations with different extensions, multiple users, multilanguage and various templates. Personally, I have an agreement with a few clients that I can use a copy of their installation and test RCs.
If you had three words to describe the atmosphere within the team, what would those words be?
Jenn: Exacting. Organised. Cool.
Sigrid: Constructive. Open. Friendly.
Stefan: Amicable. Balanced. Encouraging.
Niels: Amicable Cooperative. Focused.
Rachel: Open. Amicable. Cooperative.
Claudia: Friendly. Cooperative. Proactive.
Phil: Productive. Supportive. Worthwhile.
How did the team develop over the last year(s)?
Stefan: Since July 2019, and especially with Sigrid as coordinator, we have made a real leap forward. The involvement of the release leads in our regular meetings has contributed to a significant increase in quality. Unfortunately, this always felt a bit off in the past.
Sigrid: Thanks Stefan :-). When I took over the team, I was also checking the description/role at the volunteer portal. I thought at first that the team should be called “CMS Testing Team” because we were only testing at that time. Since then, many things have changed. I think with the regular meetings, there is now more motivation, exchange, communication, team feeling.
Do you need extra volunteers, and if so, in what capacities?
Stefan: Of course, more testers are an important part of minimising errors. With the shorter release cycles, it would be great if we could find a few more supporters.
Sigrid: Yes, we could definitely have more testers. If you join our team, you get many insights into all functionalities of Joomla, because sometimes you need to test things that you have never tried before. I have learned a lot and I enjoy the exchange in the team when we run into problems.
Which team should we interview next (and why)?
Sigrid: CMS Maintenance - because they work constantly on the code, or Joomla Enhancements Development - because it is very new.