Evidence that Go makes it easy to get up to speed

Some recent PRs to the DNSControl Project casually mentioned that this was their first time writing Go code. That's amazing!

When was the last time you saw someone say, "here's a major contribution to your open source project... oh and I just learned this language." (and the PR was really darn good!) I think it is pretty rare and one of the special things about Go.

Part of Go's original vision was to make it easy for new people to join a project and make contributions. This was important internally at Google, since engineers hop projects frequently. This also benefits open source projects by making it easy to dive in and participate.

Here are the three PRs:

  • Add Digitalocean provider #171. DNSControl has a plug-in architecture to support new DNS Service Providers. This Go first-timer wrote an entire plugin to support Digital Ocean. "I haven't used Go before, but the diff looks sane so hopefully I managed to handle the dependencies correctly."
  • Implement SRV support for CloudFlare provider #174. Plug-ins can indicate whether or not they support new fangled DNS records like SRV. This PR extends the CloudFlare provider to add support for the CAA record. "This is my first time writing anything in Go".
  • CAA support #132. CAA is a new DNS record type. This PR changed DNSControl to support this new record, and implements it for a few of the providers (plug-ins). "I almost never wrote Go before (and this is my first Go PR)".

One of the joys maintaining an open source project is watching contributors build new skills. Github.com's PR system makes it a joy to give constructive criticism and help people iterate on the code until it meets our high standards. (ProTip: Criticize the code, not the person. i.e. write "this should" instead of "you should")

Go isn't 100 percent of why it is easy to contribute to DNSControl. We've made it easy to contribute other ways too:

  • Extensive unit tests and integration tests. Your first contribution can be scary. If your new provider passes all the integration tests, you can be confident that it is time to make the PR. This reduces fear of embarassment.
  • Detailed documentation on the most common and difficult tasks such as how to write a new provider and add a new DNS record type. People are encouraged to add new tests of their own (TDD-style). We also encourage people to update the "how to" docs as they use them, to make the process easier for the next person.
  • Extra-friendly code reviews. A special shout-out to Craig who is super friendly and helpful. He's happy to coach people whether they're learning DNSControl itself or Go.

If you would like to learn more about DNSControl, and why "DNS as Code" is a better way to maintain your DNS zones, then watch our video from Usenix SRECon or check out our Github page.

Thanks to our contributors, and to my employer StackOverflow.com, for supporting this project. And, of course, thanks to the Go community for making such an awesome language!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in DNSControlGo

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