The First Step In The World Of FOSS

Hello World!

Welcome to my first ever blog and blog post!
I had been contemplating of getting started with a blog for some time now but each time the plan got postponed due to some or the other reason. A pro-procrastinator I am!

However, I took the words of wisdom “Better late than never” quite seriously and so here I am! Another motivation for this new start was the need to blog every fortnightly with regard to my winter intern project.

And this is the project that the title speaks of. My first acquaintance with Open Source Software was only after I joined college. The new notions of being able to contribute to a  project and the ‘mysterious’ communities got me involved into exploring the field. Influenced by two of my very good friends, I took up wikimedia as the chosen one. I have been a regular user of the services offered by the mediawiki community and was super-excited to be a contributorto the same. 🙂

Landing and first meeting with mentors

I started spending some time analysing the activities on the irc channels of mediawiki and picking up the norms of communication over irc, developed some idea about bug tracker (It was bugzilla then and has now been migrated to phabricator) and ultimately started with the mw-installation. I started discussing the issues I faced during installation on irc. Overwhelmed by the wonderful support of the community, I took a step forward and started by working on a bug. Around the same time after I submitted my first patch, I figured out about the existence of various programs that help the novices mingle better with the community and become regular contributors. I had a lot of information and names to process in that phase and then came Gnome’s Outreach Program!

I applied for the program to work on the collaborative spelling dictionary project, discussed the whole idea with my mentors and drafted a proposal of my ideas for the project. And here I am, discussing it all since I got accepted by the program!

It has been a great experience since the first day I got involved with the wikimedia community! Everyone is way too supportive and is ever-ready to help. I had received immense support and help from the community on the irc channels during the problems I faced in the initial phase, be it during mw-installation, configuration errors or a patch submission!). This is what prompted me to be a regular contributor to wikimedia and to participate in the Outreach program.

My first meeting with my mentors was quite a learning experience. From the first day onwards, they have always been guiding me. The best part has been that they don’t spoon-feed me, rather, they show me the direction and I learn by exploring stuff. This has really been very helpful!

I have developed quite a friendly relationship with my mentors in particular and thus it gets easy to discuss any idea with them. Also, my mentors are available most of the time and as such there’s no problem in communicating. Another plus point is the same time zone I share with Kartik which facilitates our interactions without any concern of time clashes. 🙂

Lessons learned since 22 November

I am very excited about expanding my knowledge and learn as much as possible and beyond. 🙂
Here is a very small list of the multitude of lessons I learnt since the beginning of the program:

  • Got familiar with the VE codebase
  • Set up a github repo and initiated it with a README and developer.md files
  • Documented ideas for possible dictionary structures and demonstrated them to my mentor through email as well as google doc
  • Understood how various MediaWiki IRC channels are used
  • Attended OPW career advising meeting for OPW Interns on #opw (irc.gnome.org) on November 26th, 8:30 AM (PST)
  • Co-ordination with other related projects is desirable wherever possible
  • Created a conpherence on phabricator and invited the mentors

Communication Plan

We have decided to regularly communicate through the following mediums:

  • Complete weekly progress reports
  • Check in daily with mentors over hangouts and/or IRC
  • Share Google calendars
  • Communicate with other mentors over IRC and email with questions, to look over code, etc.
  • Regularly write blog posts about the progress of the project
  • Regularly report to my mentors about the progress and problems encountered, via emails or hangouts
  • Use phabricator conpherence for brainstorming purposes and discussing ideas

It has been a wonderful journey from day zero, when I first decided to be a part of the OSS community and I positively hope to continue this. I’ll additionally try to help out anyone and everyone who wishes to start contributing in the open source software. (Drop me a message if you want any help and I’ll definitely reply back with whatever help I can offer. 🙂 )

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