Nithin Bekal

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Notes from Open Source Saturday

10 May 2016

Last Saturday, I got a chance to attend the Open Source Saturday event hosted by the people at Red Panthers. I had a lot of fun hacking on the Exercism codebase, and wanted to share some of my thoughts on the event.

The idea of the event was to spend an entire day discussing and contributing to open source projects. People would pair up and pick up issues from projects that they are interested in. The event was supposed to be from 10am to 5pm, but many of us were around till past 7pm.

All of us picked Exercism issues, and by the end of the day, we submitted 6 pull requests to Exercism and Exercism CLI. (Some of them have already been merged in. Yay!) Harisankar, who organized the event, had prepared a list of projects that had issues tagged beginner-friendly. This helped us get some newer developers make their first open source contribution.

Later in the day, we were joined by Emil Soman, who is one of the maintainers of the RbKit profiler for Ruby. He gave a quick talk about RbKit and profiling in Ruby, and about how we could get involved in contributing to it.

Takeaways

Exploring a new codebase is fun. We spent most of the day getting familiar with the codebase. At work I work on a codebase I’m already familiar with. Looking at how things are done in an unfamiliar codebase was a great learning experience. Exercism is built with Sinatra, which I have rarely used, so I got to learn a little bit about the framework.

Pairing is an awesome way to learn, and pairing with people you don’t work with is especially great because they bring ideas from their own teams that you might not be familiar with.

Open source projects should tag beginner friendly issues. This is a great way to get newbies to start contributing. If we had tried to tackle more time consuming issues, and didn’t finish at the end of the day, it’s likely that many of us might not get back to that issue anytime soon. Picking up simpler issues helped people understand the codebase, and will hopefully pave the way for more contributions.

It’s great to have open source project maintainers at the event. Although Emil couldn’t join us for the coding sessions, the discussion around the future of Rbkit was interesting, and it might be one of the projects we pick up next month.

And finally…

We had some new people (Juliat and Ajay) sending their first open source PR, and that’s awesome! So a big shout out to the folks at Red Panthers for organizing the event. Also, thanks Juliat for pairing up with me on the issues.

The Red Panthers folks are planning to do this every month on the first Saturday, so we’ll hopefully see more new contributors involved every month.

Hi, I’m Nithin Bekal, a software craftsman with over 7 years of experience in shipping web applications. I mostly use Ruby, but lately have also been exploring Elixir. Co-founder of CrowdStudio.in, and helping organize Rubyconf India. Tweet to me at @nithinbekal.