14.6.1 Motivation

Most readers are probably familiar with the LilyPond Grand Documentation Project, which ran from Aug 2007 to Aug 2008. This project involved over 20 people and resulted in an almost complete rewrite of the documentation. Most of those contributors were normal users who decided to volunteer their time and effort to improve lilypond for everybody. By any measure, it was a great success.

The Grand Organization Project aims to do the same thing with a larger scope – instead of focusing purely on documentation, the project aims to improve all parts of LilyPond and its community. Just as with GDP, the main goal is to encourage and train users to become more involved.

If you have never contributed to an open-source project before – especially if you use Windows or OSX and do not know how to program or compile programs – you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do. Rest assured that you can help.

"Trickle-up" development

One of the reasons I’m organizing GOP is "trickle-up" development. The idea is this: doing easy tasks frees up advanced developers to do harder tasks. Don’t ask "am I the best person for this job"; instead, ask "am I capable of doing this job, so that the current person can do stuff I can’t do?".

For example, consider lilypond’s poor handling of grace notes in conjunction with clef and tempo changes. Fixing this will require a fair amount of code rewriting, and would take an advanced developer a few weeks to do. It’s clearly beyond the scope of a normal user, so we might as well sit back and do nothing, right?

No; we can help, indirectly. Suppose that our normal user starts answering more emails on lilypond-user. This in turn means that documentation writers don’t need to answer those emails, so they can spend more time improving the docs. I’ve noticed that all doc writers tackle harder and harder subjects, and when they start writing docs on scheme programming and advanced tweaks, they start contributing bug fixes to lilypond. Having people performing these easy-to-moderate bug fixes frees up the advanced developers to work on the really hard stuff... like rewriting the grace note code.

Having 1 more normal user answering emails on lilypond-user won’t have a dramatic ‘trickle-up’ effect all by itself, of course. But if we had 8 users volunteering to answer emails, 6 users starting to write documentation, and 2 users editing LSR... well, that would free up a lot of current bug-fixing-capable contributors to focus on that, and we could start to make a real dent in the number of bugs in lilypond. Quite apart from the eased workload, having that many new helpers will provide a great moral boost!

LilyPond — Contributor’s Guide v2.17.97 (development-branch).