Name: Lotte Pitcher
Job title: Web developer/Business owner
Has been working with Umbraco: Since v4.7, so approx 8 years
Lotte shares here how she goes about contributing to the Umbraco project in a set of answers covering:
What type of contributions to the Umbraco project are you involved in?
I help organise the London Umbraco meetups, I’m a member of the Package Team, and I’m in a podcast called Candid Contributions with three other Umbraco developers (Carole Rennie Logan, Emma Burstow and Laura Weatherhead). The podcast is about contributing to open source in general but we do talk a lot about Umbraco, and we know it’s listened to by many in the Umbraco community. The four of us have also organised an Umbraco virtual hackathon and just recently CodePatch, a ‘mini-virtual Codegarden’ and hackathon. I also do some pull requests to the docs and codebases too, but not very often.
What motivates you to contribute?
Without a doubt it’s the people in the Umbraco community. Contributing means I get to meet, work and spend time with talented and inspiring people from all over the world. It’s definitely not a selfless activity as I get so much back from what I do. There’s the technical knowledge, of course, that has been acquired. But the benefit that I value the most is for my core skills (you may be more familiar with the term ‘soft skills’ but please let’s call them ‘core’ or ‘essential’, not ‘soft’). Collaborating with other Umbracians has improved my ability to work with others, taught me to be more open-minded, and has undoubtedly improved my confidence. I should also say that I really enjoy the contributions that I make, as usually it involves a lot of fun. Take CodePatch for example. Sure it was a lot of work for us to organise but as a result we got to spend a highly enjoyable 24 hours with some excellent people!
How much time do you dedicate to contributing?
It varies enormously from week to week, and I haven’t measured it. But so far in 2020 I guess it might average out to say 4 to 8 hours per week.
How do you manage your contribution time?
There are things that have to be done to a schedule, such as organising events, so those will always take priority. For everything else that I could do I keep a list, and then work my way through it when I have the time and, most importantly, the desire to do something. No-one should end up resenting the time they spend on open-source contributions.
Are there productivity tools that you use and that you can recommend to (new) contributors to the project?
It’s not a tool per se, but I would suggest getting used to sharing your ideas / features / packages etc as early as you can. The Umbraco community is a friendly space, and the insights and suggestions into what you’re doing can be a real time saver in the long run.
Work with the Package Team
How were you able to get started with the team?
I joined the package team when it was formed. I don’t think any of us really had any idea about what was expected. I felt we really got started at the community team visit to HQ last November, when Kim encouraged us to take the time to discuss what our team’s purpose was. As you can imagine, as a bunch of developers we wanted to crack on and write some code, but defining our team goals and structure gave us a good foundation.
How are the tasks organized between the team members?
It is up to us to volunteer for the things that we want to be involved in. I don’t think Jesper, our team steward, has ever needed to allocate someone to a task. He makes a point of reminding us that the team is not meant to be doing all the work ourselves, but to make it easier for other community members to get involved, and to encourage and support them to do so.
How much time do you allocate to the team?
We have a call once every two weeks, usually for about an hour. It doesn’t matter if you can’t make them all, but I think I’ve only missed one when I was travelling to Umbraco Spark. As I’m my own boss I make sure that I don’t arrange meetings that conflict and, well, holidays aren’t a thing right now of course. We communicate via Slack and I keep an eye on that, and now on the team twitter account too. I like to be available and stay involved, but it doesn’t need to be a huge time commitment
What advice do you have to someone interested in joining a Community Team?
If you’re interested but not sure how you would answer the ‘why should you join the team’ question, I suggest you ask someone you trust from the Umbraco community for their answer. I predict they will have more good reasons as to why you’d be of value than you would think of yourself!