Meet Your New Technical Lead

Hi, I'm Danny, and I'm the newest hire of the Islandora Foundation. My role within the Foundation is to serve as Technical Lead, and I want to take some time to introduce myself and inform everyone of just exactly what I'll be doing for them.

I guess for starters, I should delve a bit into my background. Since a very young age, I've always considered myself to be pretty nerdy. As soon as I learned how to read, my father had me in front of a 386 and taught me DOS. In high school, I discovered Linux and was pretty well hooked. It was around that time I started working with HTML, and eventually javascript and Flash. I graduated with honors from East Tennessee State University with a B.Sc. in Mathematics and a Physics minor, and was exposed to a lot of C++ and FORTRAN. I specialized in Graph Theory, which I didn't think at the time would lead to a career as a programmer, since I had decided to be an actuary after completing school. Fast forward a few years, and I have a couple actuarial exams under my belt and have become well versed in VBA programming and Microsoft Office. But I didn't really like it, and wanted to do more than spreadsheet automation. So I moved to Canada and went back to school for Computer Science, but quickly found my way into the workforce for pragmatic reasons (read: I had bills to pay). I managed to score a job in the small video game industry that's evolved on PEI. I did more Flash (sadly) but was also exposed to web frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Django. A lot of my time was spent writing servers for Facebook games, and tackled everything from game logic to payment systems. But that career eventually burned me out, as it eventually does to most folks, and I applied for a position at a small company named discoverygarden that I heard was a great place to work.

And that's how I first met Islandora. I was still pretty green for the transition from Drupal 6 to 7, but shortly after the port I was able to take on more meaningful tasks. After learning tons about the stack while working with discoverygarden, I was given the opportunity to work on what would eventually become CLAW. And now I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see that work through as an employee of the Islandora Foundation. So before I start explaining my duties as Tech Lead, I'd really like to thank the Islandora Foundation for hiring me, and discoverygarden for helping me gain the skills I needed to grow into this position.

Now, as is tradition in Islandora, I'll describe my roles as hats.  I'm essentially wearing three of them:

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  • Hat #1: 7.x-1.x guy 
    1. We have increasingly more defined processes and workflows, and I'm committed to making sure those play out the way they should. But, for whatever reason, If there's a time where a pull request has sat for too long and the community hasn't responded, I will make sure it is addressed. I will either try to facilitate a community member who has time/interest to look at it, and if that's not possible, I will review myself.
    2. I will take part in and help chair committers' calls every other Thursday.
    3. I will attend a handful of Interest Group meetings.  There's too many for me to attend them all, but I'm starting with the IR and Security interest groups.
    4. Lastly, I will be serving as Release Manager for the next release, and will be working towards continuing to document and standardize the process to the best of my abilities, so that it's easier for other community members to take part in and lead that process from here on out.

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  • Hat #2: CLAW guy
    1. We're currently in the process of pivoting from a Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 codebase, and I'm going to be sheparding that process as transparently as possible.  This means I will be working with community members to develop a plan for the minimum viable product (or MVP for short).  This will help defend against scope creep, and force ourselves as a community to navigate what all these changes mean.  Between Fedora 4, PCDM, and Drupal 8, there's a lot that's different, and we need to all be on the same page.  For everyone's sake, this work will be conducted as much as possible by conversations through the mailing lists, instead of solely at the tech calls.  In the Apache world, if it doesn't happen on the list, it never happened.  And I think that's a good approach to making sure people can at least track down the rationale for why we're doing certain things in the codebase.
    2. Using the MVP, I will be breaking down the work into the smallest consumable pieces possible.  In the past few years I've learned a lot about working with volunteer developers, and I fully understand that people have day jobs with other priorities.  By making the units of work as small as possible, we have better chance of receiving more contributions from interested community members.  In practice, I think this means I will be writing a lot of project templates to decrease ramp-up time for people, filling in boilerplate, and ideally even providing tests beforehand.
    3. I will be heavily involved in Sprint planning, and will be running community sprints for CLAW.
    4. I will be chairing and running CLAW tech calls, along with Nick Ruest, the CLAW Project Director.

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  • Hat #3: UBC project guy
    • As part of a grant, the Foundation is working with the University of British Columbia Library and Press to integrate a Fedora 4 with a front-end called Scalar. They will also be using CLAW as a means of ingesting multi-pathway books. So I will be overseeing contractor work for the integration with Scalar, while also pushing CLAW towards full book support.

I hope that's enough for everyone to understand what I'll be doing for them, and how I can be of help if anyone needs it.  If you need to get in touch with me, I can be found on the lists, in #islandora on IRC as dhlamb, or at dlamb@islandora.ca.  I look forward to working with everyone in the future to help continue all the fantastic work that's been done by everyone out there.

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