Fedora Community Blog: Teaching metrics and contributor docs at Flock 2017

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The Fedora Community Operations (CommOps) team held an interactive workshop during the annual Fedora contributor conference, Flock. Flock took place from August 29th to September 1st in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Justin W. Flory and Sachin Kamath represented the team in the workshop. CommOps spends a lot of time working with metrics and data tools available in Fedora, like fedmsg and datagrepper. Our workshop introduced some of the tools to work with metrics in Fedora and how to use them. With our leftover time, we discussed the role of contributor-focused documentation in the wiki and moving it to a more static place in Fedora documentation.

What does CommOps do?

The beginning of the session introduced the CommOps team and explained our function in the Fedora community. There’s two different skill areas in the CommOps team: one focuses on data analysis and the other focuses on non-technical community work. The motivation for CommOps was explained too. The team’s mission is to bring more heat and light into the project, where light is exposure and awareness, and heat is more activity and contributions. Our work usually follows this mission for either technical or non-technical tasks.

At the beginning of the workshop, metrics were the main discussion point. CommOps helps generate metrics and statistical reports about activity in Fedora. We wanted to talk more about the technical tools we use and how others in the workshop could use them for their own projects in Fedora.

What are Fedora metrics?

fedmsg is the foundation for all metrics in Fedora. fedmsg is a message bus that connects the different applications in Fedora together. All applications and tools used by Fedora contributors emit messages into fedmsg. This includes git commits, Koji build status, Ansible playbook runs, adding a member to a FAS group, new translations, and more. Together, the data is meaningless and is difficult to understand. In the #fedora-fedmsg channel on Freenode, you can see all the fedmsg activities in the project (you can see the project “living”!). The valuable part is when you take the data and filter it down into something meaningful.

One of the examples from the workshop was the analysis of FOSDEM and community engagement by CommOps contributor Bee Padalkar. In her report, she determined our approximate impact in the community at FOSDEM. Using Fedora Badges, it revealed how many people we interacted with at FOSDEM and how they engaged with the Fedora community before and after the conference.

The metrics tools in Fedora help make this research possible. One of the primary goals of our workshop was to introduce the metrics tools and how to use them for the audience. We hoped to empower people to build and generate metrics of their own. We also talked about some of the plans by the team to advance use of metrics further.

Introducing the CommOps toolbox

The CommOps toolbox is a valuable resource for the data side of CommOps. Our virtual toolbox is a list of all the metrics and data tools available for use and a short description of how they’re used. You can see the toolbox on the wiki.

Sachin led this part of the workshop and explained some of the most common tools. He introduced what a fedmsg publication looked like and helped explain the structure of the data. Next, he introduced Datagrepper. Datagrepper helps you pull fedmsg data based on a set of filters. With your own filters, you can customize the data you see to make comparisons easier. Complex queries with Datagrepper are powerful and help bring insights into various parts of the project. When used effectively, it provides insight into potential weak spots in a Fedora-related project.

Finally, Sachin also introduced his Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2016 project, gsoc-stats. gsoc-stats is a special set of pre-defined filters to create contribution profiles for individual contributors. It breaks down where a contributor spends most of their time in the project and what type of work they do. Part of its use was for GSoC student activity measurements, but it has other uses as well.

What is Grimoire Lab?

Sachin is leading progress on a new tool for CommOps called Grimoire Lab. Grimoire Labs is a visual dashboard tool that lets a user create charts, graphs, and visual measurements from a common data source. The vision for Grimoire Lab in Fedora is to build an interactive dashboard based off of fedmsg data. Using the data, anyone could create different gauges and measurements in an easy-to-understand chart or graph. This helps make the fedmsg data more accessible for others in the project to use, without making them write their own code to create graphic measurements.

Most of the time for Grimoire Lab in the workshop was explaining its purpose and expected use. Sachin explained some of the progress made so far to make the tool available in Fedora. This goal is to get it hosted inside of Fedora’s infrastructure next. We hope to deliver on an early preview of this over the next year.

Changing the way we write contributor documentation

The end of our workshop focused on non-technical tasks. We had a few tickets highlighted but left it open to the audience interest to direct the discussion. One of the attendees, Brian Exelbierd, started a discussion about the Fedora Documentation team and some of the changes they’ve made over the last year. Brian introduced AsciiDoc and broke down the workflow that the Docs team uses with the new tooling. After explaining it, the idea came up of hosting contributor-focused information in a Fedora Docs-style project, instead of the wiki.

The two strong benefits of this approach is to keep valuable information updated and to make it easily accessible. Some common wiki pages for the CommOps team came up, like the pages explaining how to join the team and how to get “bootstrapped” in Fedora. After Brian’s explanation of the tools, the new Docs tool chain felt easy to keep up and effective promoting high-value content for contributors out of the wiki. Later during Flock, on Thursday evening, Brian organized a mini workshop to extend this idea further and teach attendees how to port content over.

CommOps hopes to be an early example of a team to use this style of documentation for our contributor-focused content. Once we are comfortable with the set-up and have something to show to others, we want to document how we did and explain how other teams can do it too. We hope to carry this out over the Fedora 27 release cycle.

See you next year!

Flock 2017 was a conference full of energy and excitement. The three-hour workshop was useful and effective for CommOps team members to meet and work out plans for the next few release cycles in the same room. In addition to our own workshop, spending time in other workshops was also valuable for our team members to see what others in Fedora are doing and where they need help.

A special thanks goes out to all the organizing staff, for both the bid process and during the conference. Your hard work helps drive our community forward every year by feeling more like a community of people, in an open source world where we mostly interact and work together over text messaging clients and emails.

We hope to see you next year to show you what we accomplished since last Flock!

The post Teaching metrics and contributor docs at Flock 2017 appeared first on Fedora Community Blog.

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