What is Open Source and why you should do it?

Since Codeheat is going on and Google Code-in has started, I would like to share some knowledge with the new contributors with the help of this blog.

What is an Open Source software?

When googled, you will see:

“Open-source software is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.”

To put it in layman terms, “A software whose source code is made available to everyone to let them change/improve provided that the contributor who changes the code cannot claim the software to be his own.”

Thus, you don’t own the software thoroughly. All you can do is change the code of the software to make it better. Now, you may be thinking what’s there in for you? There are all pros according to me and I have explained them in the latter half of this article.

Why am I writing this?

I was just in the freshman’s year of my college when I came to know about the web and how it works. I started my journey as a developer, building things, started doing some projects and keeping it with myself. Those days,  exploring more, I first came to know about the Open Source software.

Curiously, wanting to know more about the same, I got to know that anyone can make his/her software Open so as to make it available to others for use and development. Thus, learning more about the same led me to explore other’s projects on GitHub and I went through the codebases of the softwares and started contributing. I remember my first contribution was to correct a “typo” i.e correcting a spelling mistake in the README of the project. That said, I went on exploring more and more and got my hands on Open Source which made me share some of my thoughts with you.

What’s there in for you doing Open Source Contribution?

1) Teaches you how to structure code:

Now a days, nearly many of the software projects are Open Sourced and the community of developer works on the projects to constantly improve them. Thus, big projects have big codebases too which are really hard to understand at first but after giving some time to understand and contribute, you will be fine with those. The thing with such projects is they have a structured code, by “structured”, I mean to say there are strict guidelines for the project i.e they have good tests written which make you write the code as they want, i.e clean and readable. Thus, by writing such code, you will learn how to structure it which ultimately is a great habit that every developer should practice.

2) Team Work:

Creating and maintaining a large project requires team work. When you contribute to a project, you have to work in a team where you have to take others opinions, give your opinions, ask teammates for improvisations or ask anything whichever you are stuck with. Thus, working in team increases productivity, community interaction, your own network, etc.

3) Improves the developer you:

Okay, so I think, one of the most important part of your developer journey is and should be “LEARNING ALWAYS”. Thus, when you contribute, your code is reviewed by others (experts or maintainers of project) who eventually point out the mistakes or the improvisations to be done in the code so that the code can be written much cleaner than you had written. Also, you start to think a problem widely. While solving the problem, you ensure that the code you have written makes the app scalable for a large number of users, also prolonging the life of code.

4) Increases your Network:

One advantage of Open Source contribution is that it also increases your network in the developer community. Thus, you get to know about the things that you have never heard of, you get to explore them, you get to meet people, you get to know what is going in what parts of the world, etc. Having connections with other developers sitting in different countries is always a bonus.

5) Earn some bucks too:

At the end of the day, money matters. Earlier days, people used to think that contributing to Open Source projects won’t earn you money, etc. But if you are a maintainer or a continuous contributor of a great project, you get donations to get continuing the project and making it available to people.

For students in college, doing Open Source is a bonus. There are programmes like:

These programmes offer high incentives and stipends to the fellow students. FOSSASIA participates in GSoC so you can go ahead and try getting in GSoC under FOSSASIA.

6) Plus point for job seekers:

When it comes to applying for job, if you have a good Open Source profile, the recruiter finds a reason to take you out and offer you an interview since you already know how to “manage a project”, “work in team”, “get work done”, “solve a problem efficiently”, etc. Now a days, many companies mention on their job application page as “Open Source would be a bonus”.

7) Where can you start:

We have many projects at FOSSASIA to start with. There are no restrictions on the language since we have projects available for most of the languages.

Currently, we are having a couple of programs open at FOSSASIA. They are:

Feel free to check out the programs and the projects under FOSSASIA at https://github.com/fossasia.

Conclusion

So, yeah. This was it. Hope you understood what Open Source is and how would it benefit you. Keep contributing to FOSSASIA and you will see the effects in no time.

FOSSASIA at Google Code-In 2016 Grand Prize Trip

This year FOSSASIA came up with a whopping number of GCI participants, making it to the top. FOSSASIA is a mentor organization at the Google Code-In contest, which introduces pre-university students towards open source development.

Every year Google conducts the grand prize trip to all the GCI winners and I represented FOSSASIA as a mentor.

FOSSASIA GCI winners and Mentor at Google Mountain View Campus.

Day 1: Meet and Greet with the Diverse Communities

We all headed towards the San Francisco Google office and had a great time interacting with members from diverse open source organizations from different parts of the world. I had some interactive conversations with the kids, on how they scheduled their sleep hours in order to complete the task and got feedback from the mentors from different time zones! I was also overwhelmed while listening to their interests apart from open source contributions.

“I am a science enthusiast, mainly interested in Computer Science and its wide range of applications. I also enjoy playing the piano, reading, moving, and having engaging conversations with my friends. As a participant in the GCI contest, I got the chance to learn by doing, I got an insight of how it is like to work on a real open-source project, met some great people, helped others (and received help myself). Shortly, it was amazing, and I’m proud to have been a part of it. ” Shared by one of our Winner Oana Rosca.

There were people from almost 14 different countries, in fact, FOSSASIA, as a team, was the most diverse group 🙂

Day 2: Award Ceremony

We had two winners from FOSSASIA, Arkhan Kaiser from Indonesia and Oana Rosca from Romania. There were 8 organizations with 16 winners. The award ceremony was celebrated on day 2 and each winner was felicitated by Chris DiBona, the director of the Google open source team.

Talks by Googlers

We had amazing speakers from Google who spoke about their work, experiences, and journey to Google. Our first speaker was Jeremy Allison, a notable contributor to “Samba” which is a free software re-implementation of the SMB/CIFS networking protocol. He spoke on “How the Internet works” and gave a deeper view of the internet magic.

We had various speakers from different domains such as Grant Grundler from the Chrome team, Lyman Missimer from Google Expeditions, Katie Dektar from the Making and Science team, Sean Lip from Oppia(Googler and Oppia org admin), Timothy Papandreou from Waymo and Andrew Selle from TensorFlow.

Day 3: Fun Activities

We had various fun activities organized by the Google team. I had a great time cruising towards the Alcatraz island.  Later we had a walk on the Golden Gate bridge. Here comes the fun part of the tour “the cruise dinner” which was the best part of the day.

Day 4: End of the trip

Oana, Arkhan and I gave a nice presentation about our work during GCI. We spoke about all the amazing projects under FOSSASIA. One cool thing we did is that we “Doodled” our presentation 🙂 Here are few images from the actual presentation.

The day ended well with loads of good memories and information. Thanks to the open source technologies and their availability along with a beautiful friendly community, these memories and connections will now remain for a lifetime.

FOSSASIA Google Code-In Students and Mentor at Googleplex Mountain View

Last week grand prize winners from FOSSASIA and other organizations that participated in Google Code-In 2014 attended a trip to the US accompanied by a guardian and a mentor. The grand prize trip is the crowning activity of Google Code In, the program organized by Google with the aim of introducing pre-university students to open source. I was fortunate enough to take part as the mentor representing FOSSASIA.

2014 was FOSSASIA’s first participation in GCI and it was a great success for us.

The trip kicked off on the evening of the 7th June with a ‘meet and greet’ at the hotel lobby. Stephanie Taylor and Mary Radomile from Google OSPO welcomed us. I met Namanyay Goel and Samarjeet Singh, the two winners from fossasia, and a bunch of other winning students and mentors. Groups of students were quick to engage in lively discussions, It was hard to believe that most of them met for the first time. I was glad to learn that both our winning students enjoyed the contest as much as I did. At the end of the two hours both students and mentors were holding on to some rewards from Google. As I was tired from the long flight I bid everyone an early goodbye to get a much needed sleep.

FOSSASIA Google Code-In 2014I met Namanyay and Samarjeet, Grand prize winners from FOSSASIA.

The next morning we met in the hotel lobby again. We were to spend the day in the Google headquarters in Mountain View. The San Francisco traffic delayed our buses a bit but we arrived at the Googleplex to a pleasant breakfast. In the morning we listened to talks from Engineers of Google projects Ara and Tango. A series of interesting questions from an enthusiastic audience followed each talk. Chris DiBona, the director of the Google OSPO presented winners their awards. After a lunch where students got to enjoy with Googlers from their respective countries, we were back for more talks. The one from Google’s rapidly evolving self driving cars, caught a lot of attention. We also got to visit the Google visitor center, where we met famous giant Androids, and to the Google store, where everyone bought a bunch of souvenirs to take back home.

Third day of the tour was the ‘fun day’. Each of us were to choose between visiting the Alcatraz island which was the home to the historic federal prison, the Exploratorium, a science and arts museum and a segway tour around San Francisco. About half of the group and I picked segways. We rode the brilliantly engineered machines around the city while our guide entertained us with interesting facts about the city. It was a novel experience for everyone. The three groups met for the lunch and set off to see the famous Golden gate bridge, where we spent the afternoon. A Yacht course across the San Francisco bay, during which we sailed under the Golden Gate, completed a day filled with amazing memories.

The final day was spent in the Google office in San Francisco. We got to listen to a talk about YouTube, which again followed some interesting questions and answers. Carol Smith introduced GSOC, the Sister program of GCI, to the students. Each of the mentors gave a brief introduction to their organizations. We were officially announced that GCI will continue in 2015 as well. The students presented Stephanie with a handmade thank you card inscripted by all of them, which I thought was pretty cool.

The trip was filled with both information and fun. It indeed was a Grand Prize. I hardly know how to thank Stephanie and co. for everything.

I hope, irrespective of being probably the best in their age, in their field, the winning students would stay humble and hungry for new knowledge. Looking forward to GCI 2015.

Link

See how GCI 2014 went: http://www.google-melange.com/gci/org/google/gci2014/fossasia

Google Code-In Success: FOSSASIA Top-Ranked Organization

FOSSASIA‘s first participation of Google Code-in contest as a mentoring organizations was a great success with 587 tasks completed, most by any organization this year, out of a total of 725 published tasks. The twelve participating organizations included projects like Wikimedia, Sugarlabs, Sahana, Drupal, KDE and OpenMRS.

Students from all around the world aged 13-17 years old worked with mentors of FOSSASIA on improving open source software during the 7 weeks the contest is run. They coded programs, designed artworks, tested software and more than anything else had fun.

174 students managed to complete at least one task with FOSSASIA and 43 out of them claimed a cool t-shirt from Google by completing 3 or more tasks.

Out of the 10 students who completed most number of tasks finalists and grand prize winners were picked collectively by FOSSASIA’s 24 mentors. Namanyay Goel and Samarjeet Singh won the grand prize, which is an all expense paid trip to Google HQ in Mountain View, California. Alvis Wong, Amr Ramadan and Tymon Radzik emerged as finalists. Congratulations finalists! Safe travels grand prize winners! We are thankful for your precious contributions and will be delighted see you continue to contribute even after the program.

Open source projects ExpEYES, sup, TiddlySpace, p5.js among few others, benefitted from FOSSASIA students’ work. More than 150 open source/ open tech projects and communities around asia were connected to FOSSASIA with the help of students. Students also worked together to build a nice website portraying students and mentors.

We would like to thank all participated students for the amazing interest they showed in our tasks. Its great to see some of them still hang around to help us. 24 mentors of FOSSASIA worked hard and stood up to the challenge of finding time to work with and help out students while having other obligations. Thank you mentors! Lastly we are grateful to Stephanie Taylor and Co. at the Google OSPO, for organizing the wonderful contest.

Google Code-In FOSSASIA Mentor Package Wonderful Surprise: Mentors received a Thank You Package from Google

Sleeping peacefully - Nephew of Michael Cheng: Mentor's Family Enjoying "Open Source" Thank you package Sleeping peacefully – Nephew of Michael Cheng: Mentor’s Family Enjoying “Open Source” Thank you package

Links

FOSSASIA GCI: http://www.google-melange.com/gci/org/google/gci2014/fossasia

Google Blog about GCI: http://google-opensource.blogspot.de/2015/02/google-code-in-2014-magic-in-numbers.html

Google Code-In Experience with FOSSASIA

For the last few weeks I got the opportunity to be involved in the Google Code-In 2014 program as a mentor for FOSSASIA (Thanks Andun Sameera!). It was challenging than I thought specially while doing a full time job. But was a great experience and I learned things myself with the students.

Google Code-In FOSSASIA 2014/15

FOSSASIA’s co-admin Mario Behling initiated an interesting project at the start of the program to give students an opportunity to experience open source development culture. The project was to create a small website to hold FOSSASIA’s students’ and mentors’ details. It came out to be a great success with a cute little website being created and more importantly a nice little community of students created around it.

Usually there is a barrier you need to get past as a novice contributor, to get your first commit merged in to an open source project. The administrators would want you to follow annoying coding conventions, to “combine your 5 commits, solving a simple small bug into one big commit” or to “rebase your pull request on top of master”. Until you continue contributing for some time and realize the importance of those, and start to appreciate them, they are just some annoyance that you have to deal with, on the way to get your work integrated.

We for this project initially made this barrier very very less challenging. We would merge pull requests if they do the job. This so that young student contributors don’t feel discouraged and only until they get themselves started. But having being well mentored at Google Summer of Code 2013 I wanted some niceties in our git commits. So I made learning them into a task.

Google Code-In Mentor Aruna Herath at work with FOSSASIAGoogle Code-In Mentor Aruna Herath at work

The task was to learn how to make your local commits look nice before you push them to the repo. To make it more organized and can be evaluated, and hopefully fun, I built up a small set of commits with a interesting bit of a commit history; a story. I added the set of commits to a Github repo that includes wrongly commited commit message and two commits that could look better sqashed into a bigger commit. Students are asked to clone the repo and then using git interactive rebase, make the commit history look better. The story of the commits and a set of instructions are given. Then they have to blog about there experience. They came up with some great write ups! Some focused on the technical aspects and were of a tutorial point of view. Some were explaining the personal experience writers themselves got and were on a lighter, less technical, language. However all were great!

I think I got few students to learn something that will be valuable in their future careers and also one student to start blogging! When I saw a set of commits that could be better organized in a pull request for any of FOSSASIA’s repositories, from a student who completed this task, I asked them to make them better. Thanks to above task, they knew the terminology, and communication was easier. When I say squash these commits and reword the commit message to something like this, they knew what I was saying, and how to do that, and were happy to oblige.

We gradually made it harder and more challenging, bringing the barrier to the usual level, for students who hang around to complete more tasks. This hopefully resulted in not only the finish product, but also the path towards it, to be in great shape. Students managed to complete many more very valuable work for FOSSASIA. It was fun working with them and I wish them an exciting and a fruitful future!