Contributing to FRAME and the Polkadot SDK by Shawn Tabrizi

Contributing to FRAME and Polkadot SDK with Shawn Tabrizi at Sub0 Asia 2024. Discover prerequisites, resources, Polkadot Fellowship insights...
Polkadot contributions

At the recent Sub0 Asia 2024 conference, Shawn Tabrizi from Parity Technologies delivered an enlightening presentation on contributing to FRAME and the Polkadot SDK. This talk, while labeled as a workshop, evolved into an engaging session packed with invaluable insights for developers keen on diving into the Polkadot ecosystem.

Prerequisites for Contributing to the Polkadot SDK

Tabrizi emphasized the importance of foundational knowledge in several key areas before attempting to contribute to the Polkadot SDK:

  1. Mid-Level Rust Fluency: Understanding the first 11 chapters of Rust, including types, generics, and borrowing.
  2. Blockchain Fundamentals: A solid grasp of blockchain evolution from Bitcoin to Ethereum and beyond.
  3. Polkadot Basics: Comprehending Polkadot’s unique approach to scalability and interoperability.

Resources for Learning about Polkadot Technology

For those new to Rust and blockchain development, Tabrizi recommended starting with the tutorial hosted on Do Code School, which introduces Rust within the context of Substrate. Additionally, the Polkadot Blockchain Academy offers an intensive five-week in-person program covering a broad range of topics essential for Polkadot development.

Navigating the Polkadot SDK

Since the last Sub0 event, the Polkadot SDK has undergone significant restructuring, merging previously separate repositories (Substrate, Polkadot, and Cumulus) into a single monorepo. This change aims to streamline contributions and improve coordination. However, Tabrizi pointed out that understanding the ownership and governance structure of the SDK and runtime repos is crucial. The SDK is maintained by Parity Technologies, while the runtimes are governed by the dot holders through the Fellowship.

The Polkadot Fellowship

The Polkadot Fellowship plays a critical role in stewarding the network’s development. Comprising core developers and researchers, the Fellowship represents dot holders’ interests. Tabrizi highlighted the rigorous ranking system within the Fellowship, emphasizing the commitment required to advance through the ranks and the associated benefits, including a regular income.

Making Contributions

To effectively contribute to the Polkadot SDK, Tabrizi outlined several key steps:

  1. Finding the Right Issues: Prioritize issues based on difficulty, sensitivity, clarity, and urgency. Labels like “C1 Mentor” can guide new contributors.
  2. Becoming a Subject Expert: Focus on specific areas within the codebase to develop deep expertise and eventually take ownership.
  3. Keeping Communications Public: Maintain transparency by discussing issues and solutions in public forums and GitHub issues rather than private messages.

Creating Effective Pull Requests

When submitting pull requests, Tabrizi advised breaking them into smaller, manageable parts. Write comprehensive tests and documentation to accompany your code. Review your own PRs before submission to catch any errors or formatting issues. These practices not only improve the quality of your contributions but also make the review process smoother for maintainers.

Getting Paid for Contributions

Contributors can receive tips for high-quality PRs, providing a financial incentive to contribute to the Polkadot ecosystem. These tips, though discretionary, are a recognition of valuable contributions.

Embrace the Chaos

Finally, Tabrizi acknowledged the inherent chaos in contributing to a decentralized, open-source project like Polkadot. He encouraged potential contributors to embrace this chaos, understand the broader mission, and contribute steadily, knowing that the journey may be challenging but ultimately rewarding.

Shawn Tabrizi’s session at Sub0 Asia 2024 provided a comprehensive roadmap for developers eager to contribute to FRAME and the Polkadot SDK, blending practical advice with strategic insights to navigate the complexities of open-source blockchain development.

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