Manage the Drupal core issue queue efficiently

Imagine how a new drupalist would feel by trying to work in the Drupal core issue queue or even to catch up with the changes, when a dozen comments are posted every day? It takes a while to get used to the issue queue and you’d better check updates every day if you’re following a hundred issues, or else you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed.

This community is so vibrant and awesome that many issues will easily have several hundred comments, ideas, suggestions and opinionated debates over a preferred architecture. All this is obviously great and preferable but it’s also causing a major pain to track things.

We already have the fantastic dreditor to review patches efficiently and it did solve an outstanding productivity and usability issue. But we don’t really have a way to remember what was said in comment #32 when we’re having 400+ comments, do we? One would argue that we do and we call it the issue summary. I’d have to disagree with that. The issue summary is excellent and enables anybody to quickly grasp what any given issue is all about. But obviously - to keep it manageable and short - you have to make compromises and only summarize things. Very often though, I’m reading thoughtful comments that are just lost at some point because they don’t necessarily need to be captured in the issue summary. Should we simply forget about them completely? I don’t think so, as they often teach you something you didn’t know about and open up your horizon on new tools and methodologies.

I’ve experimented working with the Diigo annotation tool to create my very own issue queue management and would like to explain why I can’t live without it now. First things first, Diigo is not mainly an annotation tool. They actually call it a multi-tool for knowledge management” as it enables you to build your personal library of links, images and notes by archiving web pages via a browser extension. With Diigo browser tools, you’ll be able to either use a browser extension or a bookmarklet depending upon your preferences and habits.

The diigo Chrome extension pop up menuThe diigo Chrome extension pop up menu

But what I’d like to show you today is how annotations can dramatically increase your productivity and awareness for any given d.o. issue. Annotations provide you with an on-page highlighting tool which will immediately catch your eyes next time you visit the page and display the annotations again. Needless to say, when you have several hundreds comments and took the time to read them all 3 months before, you’re certainly not going to read them all over again and will definitely not remember many important discussions that took place before. Context is key, and with annotations you’ll be able to create your very own issue summary, that will be relevant to YOUR way of tracking things. And with this, the next time you come back to an issue, you’ll quickly remember what was of interest and what are next steps to move forward.

Diigo annotations and sticky notesDiigo annotations and sticky notes

You can highlight text with different colors and can thus come up with some sort of standardization. For instance, yellow could be for informational text only, red to outline problems and green for potential solutions. It’s a perfect visual reminder of what you need to read first and what is especially important to you. But there’s more. With Diigo’s annotation tool, you also have the possibility to create sticky notes wherever you like on the page. When you hover on a sticky note, it’ll show up immediately and this can be a repository for an upcoming comment you want to make on the issue or simply to give context to any text you’ve highlighted.

Diigo changed the way I interact with the issue queue and I strongly encourage you give it a try. Hope you like it!

November 9, 2013