During my 25 hours, I was primarily tasked with working on bug reports for LibreOffice. At the beginning of my service, I was simply testing unconfirmed reports and retesting confirmed reports to ensure the bugs were still present in the up-to-date version of the software. I would leave comments on those reports about my findings and follow up later if needed. Once I got a better understanding of Bugzilla, the software, and my duties (and I sure did make my fair share of mistakes), I moved on to binary bisecting. Binary bisecting was more advanced than what I was doing before, but it was also quite a bit of fun!
It was common for me to spend hours digging deep into a report to figure out which commit was causing the regression and more importantly, why. As a student studying computer science with an intention of becoming a software engineer, it was important to me to try and figure out why these bugs were happening. Often times, I came up with a theory and happily appended it to my comment on the report, but sometimes I would run into a roadblock and not be able to figure it out.
What was the experience like?
Honestly, the experience was a lot better than I initially expected. I think a large part of that was due to my mentor during my service, Ilmari Lauhakangas. Ilmari was both understanding and extremely helpful, not to mention just a great individual. I was often pretty loaded with work during my service and I really appreciated the no commitment, work on your own time whenever approach. There were some days I would work 5 hours mid-day, and other days where I would work for an hour between 1 and 2 in the morning!
LibreOffice also has a fantastic wiki with a lot of info for beginner bug triagers on getting started which helped a lot, as it was a little overwhelming in the beginning. Thanks to the wiki along with the tutorial videos Ilmari provided, I was able to mostly get a grasp on things pretty quickly. However, the wiki, while holding great information, feels a little scattered. There were a couple of times where I would search for something on the wiki, and end up not finding it to have Ilmari send me a link to a slightly different page I just happened to miss.
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For example, there is a GetInvolved page and a BugTriage page, which have very similar info, but some small differences which can be important. While it wasn’t an issue for me, time zones can also be a slight issue for someone who is interested in volunteering. Being based in California in the United States, available meeting times would either be around 10pm or 9am or so. Luckily, I am often up late at night, so 10pm was great for me!
What are you planning to do next?
I still plan to contribute to bugs here and there very casually. I genuinely mean it when I say that this experience was “life changing” no matter how silly that may sound. I graduate in August of 2024 so I plan on focusing on that the most. I do need to be career ready, and secure a position for graduation. With that being said, Ilmari has asked me to email him if I’m interested in LibreOffice development after the holidays. I don’t know what that will entail quite yet, but I plan on taking him up on that offer. Maybe I will be the one accidentally introducing the regressions soon!
Many thanks thanks to Steven and Keldin for their help! All LibreOffice users are welcome to join our QA community and keep the software strong and robust.