Starting a new phase at MDN

At the start of 2016, I was the API designer and back end developer for the BrowserCompat  project, with the goal of serving Mozilla Developer Network’s (MDN’s) compatibility data from an API.  I had been doing this for a while, one year as a part-time contractor, and six months as a Mozilla employee. Technically, I was an MDN web developer, but I was happy to let the other four developers do the bulk of the MDN work while I focused on implementing BrowserCompat.

It’s four months later, and everything has changed.

MDN development has moved from the Firefox organization to the Marketing organization.  Marketing developers work on important codebases, such as bedrock, which runs, and snippets, which has to quickly serve content for the Firefox Start Page.  MDN will benefit from their expertise in moving these services to modern cloud infrastructures.

While MDN development moved, the three other back end developers stayed in the Firefox organization. This makes me the sole back end developer on MDN. I had some light experience with Kuma, the MDN engine, mostly reviewing other’s pull requests. I’ve dived into the deep end of Kuma development for about a month.

Moving MDN to Marketing puts it in the same organization as the writers, allowing the formation of the MDN durable team.  I’m not 100% sure how “agile marketing practice” works (I haven’t read the book yet). We’ve gained some new management, and will start learning the new processes in earnest this Week. It will be interesting to see what MDN goals looks like, as opposed to separate content and development goals.

Our first goal was decided for us. In February, MDN was attacked by automated spammers, creating hundreds of pages advertising garbage that has nothing to do with the open web.  Stopping the spam required halting new account creation. I’ve been working on spam mitigations since March, and we hope to open account registration again soon.

This has been a hard transition. I really liked my job in January, and was very comfortable with the next steps to success. This new job is a lot more confusing, and changes every week. It is also a lot more important to Mozilla than my little experiment ever was. I’m sure it will take a few months for me to get comfortable with the code, the infrastructure, the new processes, and the new co-workers.  There’s no time for a gentle transition, since the site is under attack, and everyone is trying to figure out how MDN and its millions of visitors fit in the new organization.

I still get to develop open-source software every week, at a company dedicated to openness.  Being open means showing off stuff before it is 100% ready. That includes me. I hope blogging about this next phase of MDN will help me figure it out for myself.


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