The End of the Journey for 4.3 Co-Release Managers
Our journey is coming to an end…
Joomla 4.3 Co-Release Managers Olivier and SD, share their experience as release managers now that their branch has been surpassed by the release of 4.4 and 5.0.
From Third-Party Developer to Co-Release Manager, Olivier’s Journey
My journey started when Benjamin reached me as I was visiting family in France. I did not expect him to contact me at that time. I was miles away from ever considering the position of Release Manager for Joomla, and he asked me to think about it. It got me really nervous as I did not know anything about the job and I was not sure I was even qualified to do it.
I remembered all those times I thought about contributing, my reluctance to do so. I had stayed at a fair distance with the project, volunteering in my own way by participating in Joomla events like Joomla Camps and Joomla Days. Already, it had been a challenge talking in public. But it felt like the right time to volunteer in a big way, my third-party extensions had matured enough under Joomla 4 and I was getting more confident in my abilities to do more.
I met Sigrid, Phil and Benjamin shortly after, and I knew I would get support whenever I would require it. I still needed a co-release manager and started writing down the names of people I knew would be a good fit and who I had met and worked with before. When Shirielle said ‘yes’, I knew from the start that we would make a good team. It was a ‘gut’ feeling. I was not mistaken. For over a year now, we have been in touch pretty much every single day. Her managerial skills helped us stay on track and we grew our knowledge and gained autonomy thanks to all the help we received from all the teams involved in the project. I am proud of our journey and of our contribution to Joomla. It’s been a roller coaster ride: fear and excitement before the ride and joy of the accomplishments once the ride was over…
Being a release manager gave me the real sense of ‘community’. I never in my dreams thought I would be in touch with so many ‘joomlers’. Getting people involved, receiving help, contributing… I took the time to count all the private conversations we add, Shirielle and I, in Mattermost alone: more than 75…
It also helped me become a better coder for the project, producing better quality pull requests in GitHub, helping others do the same.
From Implementer to Co-Release Manager, SD’s Journey
Back in the September 2022 issue of the Joomla! Community Magazine Getting to Know the Team Behind Joomla 4.3, Phil Walton introduced us, Olivier and SD, as the 4.3 co-release managers. It was an opportunity to share our passion for the project along with our excitement and nervousness to take on such a role. The role was particularly challenging for me, an implementer, not a developer. Many years ago I trained as a developer, I learned the basics, I learned several coding languages, I learned several methodologies. Then one day I was asked to work as a bridge between the client/end-user and the development team. I loved it. I could keep up with the technology and help others to do so while not having to spend time coding. I served in this capacity for a long time and with many different technologies.
This led to my progression with Joomla to being an implementer, advocate, advisor, and educator. I was apprehensive about taking on the release manager role and it took several asks for me to agree. Beyond it being such an important role, I was concerned that I would not be accepted given that I work as an implementer of Joomla and not a developer. There is a difference in understanding what needs to be done and doing the work to get it done.
All Worried, All the Time
I worried I would not know enough to make decisions. I worried that I would irrevocably damage this software I’ve used and advocated for since 2007. I worried that I would damage the community that I hold a huge affinity for. I worried that Olivier and I would not work well together. I’d met him several years earlier when he attended one of the first JoomlaDay Chicago events I organized. But I’d not worked with him on any projects, especially not anything this big. Basically, I just worried about everything.
It wasn’t until Olivier and I connected, discussing all of our concerns, thoughts, and worries that I agreed. Olivier has shared his journey earlier in this article, but what I will say is that he was the best partner that I could have on this journey. I felt like our skills and background complemented each other, he the developer, and me the implementer.
For both of us, there was a learning curve to understand the inner workings of the community and how the release manager fits. The support and guidance we received to navigate this new landscape was incredible. My worry of not being accepted quickly went away, preceded by my worry of working with Olivier.
Our Journey Together
Key to Our Success - Communication
If asked, I’d say that the key to our success was our communication. We communicated early and often about, well, everything. Starting from the beginning with our concerns and fears about taking the role, all the way through where we are today, wrapping up our journey. That communication extended to reaching out to those we could learn from, gain advice from, and help.
We worked diligently to communicate openly, honestly, and fairly. Though we didn’t always succeed, we sought to understand and reach mutually agreed upon solutions. We wanted those we came in contact with to feel heard and appreciated.
Early in our tenure, we thought about our experience and sought to help those who might come along behind us. We wanted to share with them our challenges with coming in not having been on any of the developer centric community teams. We hoped that our contributions in some small way, would aid in the future success of the release managers to come.
A Labor of Love - Guided Tours
For every release there is a goal. Whether it is to create a bridge to the next major release, improve core functionality, or introduce a new feature. After reviewing all the work that was in progress, including the Google Summer of Code, the pull requests, the issues, etc. we found ourselves stuck on wanting to move forward Guided Tours. We saw this as a way to move forward the hard work that students had done for several summers and help non-developer users of Joomla! The more we learned the more guided tours became a passion for us.
The Guided Tours feature began with Shivam Rajput. Along the way, several students added to it. The more we saw the more we felt we HAD to bring it to life. As an implementer, I saw this as a way to help the end-user who participates in the care and feeding of their website, do so more confidently. As a third-party extension developer, Olivier saw how it could help users of his extension learn how to use them quickly.
We were excited to work on them. This presented yet another challenge. Release managers already have so much on their plate, should they really participate in the development? Short answer, “No”. There are numerous responsibilities and meetings for a release manager, adding development just doesn’t seem wise. After lots of discussion, advice, and soul-searching, we jumped in.
By this point, you have probably seen the articles in the community magazine about Guided Tours and know a bit about the implementation. We created a list of the issues to be solved, sought out developers, connected with Outreach for assistance with content, reached out to testers, and worked on documentation. It truly has become a labor of love.
Guided Tours launched with 4.3 and continues to be enhanced. There are many enhancements still in progress for future releases. We believe that with the community’s help and feedback, this feature could help so many who want to work in their Joomla site but may be a little hesitant.
Our Work is Not Done
While our journey as 4.3 release managers has moved into the background with the releases of 4.4 and 5.0, our work with Joomla is not done. You will see us continuing to contribute both internally and within our own Joomla communities, mine in Chicago and Olivier’s in New York.
Would we do this again?
A few months ago when this question was asked, the answer was, “No”. Today, the answer is, “Maybe”. Now that we have had a chance to reflect on the experience, we continue to be honored to have been asked, continue to believe in and support the project, and more importantly, believe that we can still contribute in a meaningful way to the best CMS, Joomla!