Contributing at Mozilla

I’ve always wanted to be an  active contributor to an OpenSource Project. I took some time to learn some of the technologies necessary to be able to contribute(Languages, software, Linux etc). When I felt confident in myself, I started hunting for an OpenSource project….while I was searching,the  Google Summer of Code program came up a number of times. As appealing as it is, I couldn’t  apply for it because of time restrictions. So, I kept on searching, and I must say, there are a lot of Open Source projects out there. I tried joining a few, but wasn’t very successful. See I’m just a beginner and  my skill-set  does not even come close to that of the coding gurus out there…

I noticed that most developers don’t have time to help out novices like me and sometimes all you’re told when you ask for help is RTFM(Read The F*****g Manual). Joining mailing lists did not help either…..all I got were emails that i could barely understand from people using jargon I’d never heard before. Just when I was about to give up on contributing, I stumbled across this site.   After watching the video, I knew that I was joining Mozilla.

The Welcome

The site has a form that you fill out, where you have to state your area of interest. I opted for Testing and Quality Assurance, which according to the Mozilla site is

Quality assurance testing is one of the easiest ways to get started with Mozilla and is a great way to get familiar with our code and tools.

I got an email a few minutes later from someone at Mozilla asking me to provide more details on what exactly I was interested in.. At first I thought the email was just an auto-generated email,but after responding and getting a reply, I saw that these people meant business. I was given assistance and guided to some projects and I picked a few. I signed up for the web testing projects,introduced myself to the Quality Assurance team and I got a very warm welcome. I must give them props for that.

The Projects

It’s been a month since I started and it has been an interesting, fun and challenging experience for me. I get the opportunity to work on some of the most visited pages on the internet, work with professionals, use cool tools and best of all get to learn a lot. The WebQA team ensures that all the Mozilla website and web applications run properly and that any bugs are dealt with. My contributions are nothing to write home about really, but hey they are contributions none-the-less. I work on manual testing. I’m given a set of test cases, run the tests on the said website and submit my results. Usually I try to run the tests twice (On Windows and Ubuntu).

Testing is cool because you get a chance to see what websites are really made of and it gives insight into how much work web developers have to put in, just to have a site/app that works as expected. There’s still a lot more to learn and trust me, i will learn it all 🙂

As a final word, I would like to encourage anyone who is serious about Software/Web development, to try their hand at Mozilla, who knows, you might just invent the next best feature…

oh and a special thanks to StephenD, Zac, RBillings, VictorC, and the entire WebQA team for all their help.

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