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Gift of Open Source: Changing the World, One Contribution at a Time

For the month of December, we’re running the Gift of Open Source here at Pantheon in an effort to spread some holiday cheer and give back to the open source communities who’ve supported us from the very beginning. In this post, you’ll hear from passionate folks in our community leading the way — by contributing to a number of open source projects and initiatives.

Looking for inspiration before contributing to the Gift of Open Source? Find the details of two community members who’ve contributed below, along with an interesting discussion centered around how they got into open source and why they love the open source community. 

And if you’re wondering, there’s still time left to enter and win fun prizes along the way! We’re running this event through the end of December. Find all the event details here

AmyJune Hineline makes technology more accessible for everyone — including non-coders and people with disabilities

“When I first got into tech and found out that digital assets and websites could be made more accessible, but people choose not to put in the effort, I was honestly shocked.”

1. Do you mind telling us about how long you’ve been involved with the open source community and how you first got involved in it?

“I started in Drupal with content entry for the record label and quickly moved into some basic site building. I then started attending DrupalCamps before I really knew what Drupal was.

“I have been involved with open source for about five years now. Through mentorship, I discovered my strengths and have played to them. Not everyone excels at code, and that’s okay. There’s a niche for everyone in contributing. I’m privileged that my employer, Kanopi Studios, pays me to give back, and also to teach others how to use their skills and contribute to open source themselves.”

2. Not only are you a strong advocate for the open source community, but your work involves making it a more inclusive, welcoming place. How does your contribution to Pantheon’s Gift of Open Source, by working with A11y Talks in particular, build on these inclusivity efforts?

“As a self-described non-coder, I found a niche in Drupal that involved non-code contributions. I love the empowering feeling I get when giving back, so I put together workshops on how everyone (PMs, Sales, HR, ect.) can give back and ultimately feel like a  more integral part of the community.

“I am a palliative and restorative care nurse by trade. I witness firsthand how difficult it is for some folks to access data and maintain a semblance of privacy when performing tasks that others take for granted, like checking email. When I first got into tech and found out that digital assets and websites could be made more accessible, but people choose not to put in the effort, I was honestly shocked. From things like low vision to hand tremors or even temporary disabilities like a broken arm or situational disabilities like misplaced earbuds, there are so many scenarios that warrant accessibility. And nearly 25% of the world's population self-identifies as living with a disability.”

3. How did you originally get involved with A11y Talks, and could you quickly explain the main purpose of A11y Talks to anyone who’s reading this right now?

“I started out by attending sessions and writing recap articles on the monthly talks. I knew the organizer, Carie Fisher, from the community and eventually, we became colleagues at an agency. Donna Bungard and I were invited to be co-organizers soon after that.

“A11yTalks is a virtual meet-up group that features speakers and conversations around the topic of digital accessibility. Our goal is to have an accessible space for people to access information about digital accessibility. Every month we improve on how we deliver our content, continually making improvements. We try to ensure we have an accessible and inclusive social media and website presence: Accessible images, captions, transcripts, etc. We offer a space for historically excluded folks to present as well. There’s an extensive library of talks focused on accessibility and inclusion on the YouTube page.”

4. What’s one thing you love about the open source community that you won’t necessarily find or experience anywhere else?

“I love the collaboration … open source communities seem to embrace working together. Engineers understand that they don’t know how everyone uses the software, so usually there’s a queue for issues and invitations for all folks to contribute.”

Kurt Trowbridge Started with Basic CSS and HTML Customization and Likens Web Development to Playing in an Orchestra

“As we've moved into cross-functional teams at Gravity Works in the past year, there's a similar feeling to being in a band or orchestra, with a conductor directing different sections of the ensemble who, when they all come together, can create art.”

1. At what age did you first become interested in web development and when were you first introduced to the open source community?

“I first started getting interested in web development in high school, doing basic HTML and CSS theme customization for a Pokémon forum I frequented. That helped spark an interest in building my own sites and doing development work for other people as well, so as I got into college, I began doing a few forums and WordPress sites for myself and for others, and made my way into the Drupal community when I started here at Gravity Works.” 

2. What were your two contributions to Pantheon’s Gift of Open Source and what impact did they have on the open source community at large?

“My first contributions have been a patch to the Drupal module Webform Autosave, and attendance in my first Drupal Diversity & Inclusion (DDI) meeting. I'd say my immediate impact from either contribution is fairly minimal, but one feature of open source I've always loved is that you never know when someone else will benefit from your contributions. I discussed the issue I was having with Webform Autosave during a recent front-end team meeting before determining the fix, and we noted in our discussion that without the patch, the issue could feasibly reappear on future projects as well — so it very well could benefit other Drupal site builders too.

“As for the DDI community, I've been meaning to get involved for a while, especially now that my company has recently started our own diversity team that I've joined; I finally was able to attend a meeting this month instead of just catching up on Slack later. Listening to and learning from others' perspectives, in the Drupal community and elsewhere, has been valuable as I examine my own personal privileges and continue to work toward an inclusive, diverse workplace. 

“I also love and want to support the work of open source, diversity-focused projects like Self-Defined and Women Who Design, and becoming more involved in DEI initiatives in the communities I inhabit means I can learn about, amplify, and give back to even more people and resources that do such important work.”

3. Do you have any advice for someone interested in web development and looking to make their first WordPress and/or Drupal contribution?

“One consideration I'd suggest is there are many ways to contribute to open source communities! There seems to be a common mindset — I certainly had it at first — that only developers can make open-source contributions. 

“As one example, I'm a developer with somewhat of a writing background, so I know the value of good documentation and communication, and greatly appreciate projects whose documentation help lower the bar for new users or contributors. People can always get involved in reviewing and testing others' work as well. My suggestion would be to find a project (or module/plugin, or repository, or support issue, etc.) that interests you, then think about what skills and perspectives you have that you could bring to help solve their problems.”

4. It looks like you’re an enthusiastic listener and reviewer of music and regularly play the trombone. Although seemingly different, are there any similarities between playing music and web development? 

“Love this question! Yes, though I'm out of practice right now, I've been an avid trombonist since fifth grade and also love finding new music, which has led to some freelance work writing for Billboard, along with the creation of Crownnote, a website (with a rebuild launching on Pantheon very soon, by the way!) that allows other music fans to share the songs they're currently enjoying. I think the most prominent comparison for me between web development and music is the inherent sense of community and teamwork that comes both from performing in an ensemble and working as web developers. 

“As we've moved into cross-functional teams at Gravity Works in the past year, there's a similar feeling to being in a band or orchestra, with a conductor directing different sections of the ensemble who, when they all come together, can create art. Hopefully our work as developers, both in an agency setting and in the wider web community, can help do the same for the products we build and clients we support.”

After hearing from two of our community members, are you interested in entering the Gift of Open Source with your very own contributions to open source frameworks, such as Drupal and WordPress? You can find all of the details here. But hurry up, as this event is only running through December! 

Hero image by freestocks via Unsplash

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Topics Development, Drupal, WordPress