After almost 14.5 years it’s time for me to step back from volunteering with Distributed Proofreaders. What was once an enjoyable activity has become a stressor that I simply don’t need 11 months into a pandemic.
In many ways DP has been a lifeline to me at various times in my life, giving me something constructive and meaningful I can do. This was true as I was going through my divorce a decade ago, during my sabbatical, and at the beginning of the pandemic. But the bitching and criticism that comes from virtually any change we make to the site recently has become unbearable. Complaints about changes aren’t new — humans are classically change-averse and our community seems to be doubly-so — but during the pandemic they’ve seemed to have increased in both frequency and volume.
Receiving verbal or written recognition of my work is important to me. Indeed, it’s the best, and easiest, way to keep me happy. While I have often received that type of feedback from Linda, the General Manager, and Sharon, a fellow admin and developer, I don’t usually get that from the rest of the community. Instead, I most often get the opposite. That’s very demoralizing after hours and hours of time spent.
I’ve been a developer at DP for over a decade and the lead developer for the past 5+ years. Looking back I have to say we’ve collectively come a long way. I sat down and made a list of the most notable and memorable software changes that I was involved in and while there were some new features, almost all of the big changes were ensuring that the software could run on modern middleware.
My most enduring legacy at DP is likely to be that the site continues to function at all and that makes me incredibly happy.
New Features & Capabilities
- Move to Unicode
- DP API
- Maintenance mode & messaging
- HTML5 & CSS
- Updated DP logos
- Mobile layout improvements
- PHP 5.4+ (removing Magic Quotes)
- PHP 7+ (mysqli migration)
- MySQL 5.7+ support
- phpBB 3.x support
- Regular code releases
- Move from CVS to git
- Move from SourceForge to GitHub
- Creating the development VM
- Killing include() spaghetti
- Unit tests, building, linting, & CI validation
- Composer integration
I’m not sure what stepping back means exactly or what’s next for me, but it’s time for a change. I’ve committed to finishing some of the planned maintenance work (assisting with the phpBB forum upgrade and eventual OS upgrade) and updating documentation. Beyond that, I’m not sure, but decidedly less of the forums and less dev work which results in all the despised changes.
I hope to find some other open source software I can contribute to. I thought perhaps I would work with other DP-adjacent open source projects like getting the Auth_phpBB MediaWiki extension updated to support the latest MediaWiki LTS, except that only took me about 12 hours.