So preed’s already done a good job of summarizing his day at Seneca. What does a build engineer do all day? copy and make; oh, and a few thousand other things! I was glad to have exposed my students to the whole idea of build and release engineering, and especially as it relates to the open source and Mozilla experience.
The timing of the talk was apt, as my class had just finished building Firefox for their first assignment (actually, they can thank preed for that suggestion!). One of the things I hope this lecture will do (we’ll put the video/audio online when it’s done being digitized and the slides are here) is help people understand the mechanics of the build. The other night a guy in #developers said, “…this build isn’t so bad now that I understand it a bit.” Part of what made it possible for him to get past that initial brick wall was the strength and support of the community (i.e., he had just been helped by a number of people on irc).
The other, and most important part, was the quality of the docs on MDC. The number 1 comment I’ve read in my students’ build reports is that they thought it was going to be very hard, because open source typically doesn’t have good docs. However, they were surprised and glad to see that Mozilla is different in a refreshing way. In fact, many were amazed to see what many of us take for granted: open source means that you can contribute: one of the students, Liz, fixed the Win32 build docs to reflect an annoying new “feature” in the cygwin installer (i.e., no make 3.80 any more). Way to go devmo!
Another reason I was glad to connect preed with the students is that many of them, for reasons unclear to me (preed’s not here now, I can be honest ), have gotten interested in working on the build itself (e.g., distcc msvc, buildbot-Mozilla patches, etc.). I want to show them that in addition to C++/JS hacking, you can also jump into Mozilla from lots of other points of entry. It will be great to do the same for QA, MDC and doc stuff, etc.
Now, the only thing worse than struggling through your first build, is marking reports from people doing the build. Anyone wanting to get involved with contributing to *that* should feel free to email me
Thanks preed! We got the right guy for sure.