Sunday, 18 April 2010

Reflections on Open Source Jumpstart #GDCOSJ1

When you work on an Open Source project most of your communication with colleagues will be through the mailing list or maybe on IRC. This works great 90% of the time but I think everyone understands that occasionally it's really helpful to meet and talk to the people you work with. Traditionally this has happened at conferences, for example ApacheCon, EclipseCon and so on.

That's fine for people that are established committers - but what about people who want to start? Those mailing lists are pretty intimidating aren't they? Then when you do screw up the courage to write a note sometimes it never gets answered and you don't know why not. Or sometimes people don't read your question properly and answer something else. It can seem very unwelcoming. Initiatives like GSOC do a good job but they also miss the face to face element.

It was just because of this that we decided to run Open Source Jumpstart. We wanted students to meet committers face to face, just once. It's amazing how many of those getting started barriers can be broken down with one day's work. It would be great if any of the students from Saturday carried on working on Open Source projects - however, even if they don't, in that one day's work bugs were fixed in every project and students learnt about how code is developed.

There isn't much that's more satisfying than bringing two groups of people together and seeing both of them get something out of the experience. Have a look at the Meetup to see feedback from the event.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Open Source Jumpstart #GDCOSJ1

Yesterday's GDC Open Source Jumpstart was amazing!

Thanks to all the open source projects that came:

  1. Apache Aries
  2. Apache Harmony
  3. Apache Tomcat
  4. Apache Tuscany
  5. Apache Wookie
  6. Citrine
  7. Ikasan
  8. Impala
  9. PHP

You guys worked so hard all day!

Thanks to all the students that came along and fixed bugs, wrote tests and documentation. Well done! I can't believe how far people came (from Edinburgh in one case) - you represent the future of software development and it was great to meet you.

Thanks to IBM for letting us use their wonderful Southbank location and to the IBM Innovation Centre in Hursley for providing the food. The Innovation Centre have some great (free) resources for students, if any of you missed the links, here they are again:

  1. Mydeveloperworks - all sorts of resources for creating groups, wikis etc
  2. Student portal - competitions, stuff about jobs etc

Finally - thanks to Barry Cranford for being a continual positive inspiration and to the rest of the GDC organising committee for pulling yesterday's event together.

Yes, I really think we might do this again!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Apache programmers study Leech Farming in Ireland

For the last three days I've been in a Youth Hostel in rural Ireland with a bunch of programmers. Sounds like hell? Actually quite the reverse. It was probably the best 'unconference style' event that I've been to. So many things made it work - here are a few:
  • Beautiful countryside (most of us did a couple of hours walk on Saturday)
  • Everyone staying overnight for two days - no splitting up to go out to different pubs/restaurants etc
  • The weather - yes, it was sunny - in Ireland - in April - for three consecutive days.
  • Great mixture of projects, people, talks and coding time.
  • The only use of PowerPoint was in 'Presentation Karaoke' - a right and fitting use for PowerPoint. This is where the Leech Farming came in.
Thanks go to Noirin Shirley for the organisation, not only for doing the normal hassle stuff (booking the hostel, organising the food) but also for roping in her husband to collect us from Bray station and persuading her parents to turn up with home baked bread on the last day.

Here is a shot of Andrus Adamchick at breakfast on the last day - just to give an idea of what the place was like.

These events are somehow much more satisfying than the huge, expensive conferences. I come away feeling that I've learned something and met some great people. I'm looking forward to the next one already.