The Diversity Initiative
I like to say that docs are more important than code in a tech project. Docs are a challenge for any project as developers like to write code, not docs. But the real success of a project is best measured by its community: the people working on/with the project. Without people, code is nothing. Symfony is fortunate to have a large and nice community. And I'm proud of what we have achieved so far. But we almost never think about how we can "improve" our community in the same way we think about improving Symfony "features". That's a mistake we need to fix.
A major version of a project should be about improving all aspects of it: community, docs, and code in this order of importance. Symfony 4 is going to be released tomorrow. And up until now, we've talked a lot about its new technical features, about how to catch up with docs as fast as possible, and how to help the ecosystem adopt the new version. What about the community? What have we done to improve it? Some will say that it's up to the community to decide that for itself. But I think it is more complex and more subtle than that. If the core team was waiting for pull requests to be submitted without being pro-active, Symfony 4 would not be what it is today. Being pro-active is key. The status-quo is not enough.
What's the biggest challenge for Symfony as a community? Diversity. Through the years, we've made some baby steps. I think December 2013 was the first time we ever considered diversity publicly with the introduction of gender-neutral pronouns in the docs. The number of women as speakers and attendees at Symfony conferences is increasing. More recently, we teamed up with PHP Women to offer a scholarship program for Symfony conferences. I could give you more examples and some would say that this is a good start. But we can do better. Much better. That's not enough.
What are the next steps then? How can we greatly improve diversity in the coming years? As with any complex topic, we should have a clear roadmap. Diversity should be front and center. We need someone who can drive our efforts. Discussions about diversity in the Symfony community have been more intense in the last few months, and I announced that diversity is one of the key initiatives I wanted the community to focus on during my SymfonyCon keynote. The Symfony un-conference was an opportunity to bootstrap the initiative and several discussions during the conference helped frame the next steps.
Today, I'm very happy and proud to announce that Lukas Kahwe Smith, a long time Symfony core team member will lead the diversity initiative. As a matter of fact, he has already started to work in the background for several months and will be publishing a post on this blog very soon with more details. With Lukas helping lead our conversation and our amazing community contributing, I know we'll be heading in the right direction.