Last week I finished the Rails Girls Summer of Code, a programme with the intention of helping women learn to code through working on open source projects. I was excited to join this project because I am such a keen learner, but also because I wanted to use my skills to help contribute to other people’s projects. I kind of thought I could be helping others while helping myself.
Before I officially start work on this open source project I want to record my questions and feelings on the subject, so that after 3 months of working on it, I can see how my opinions change.
My Innermost Thoughts
1. This project (Spree) is overwhelmingly big. I will never be able to understand what this ‘whole’ thing does.
2. I can’t imagine what a beginner could contribute to an open source project.
3. How could I possibly help write documentation for software, without an intense/complete knowledge of it, and how could a beginner ever have that level of knowledge?
Oh dear – how negative all my initial thoughts are! Let’s get some positive ones down
4. I am so excited to work on a ‘real’ project because I assume this will be teaching me completely new things that ‘tutorials’ and my own little hacks never could.
5. I am excited to learn the processes of a ‘real’ developer (i.e. my mentor Trung), and hopefully adopt some of their habits.
6. I assume this is going to give me excellent experience in using GitHub, which I still struggle with.
7. I hope to come out of this having written quite a lot of rspec.
8. I hope this gives me a lot more confidence and makes me realise – wow, I can do things! (Surely if this wasn’t true, they wouldn’t even have this Rails Girls Summer of Code thing, lest it be massively demoralising).
For the next few months I will be blogging on another site alongside this as part of a new project I am working on. After just over a year of learning ruby, I am going to start getting involved in open source ruby software! I will be participating in Rails Girls Summer of Code working on the Spree Ecommerce platform with one of the core contributors as my mentor.
I am so excited to be working on a real world piece of ruby software, and ecommerce is particularly good for me, as I already work with so many online store owners.
I never imagined that ‘newbies’ could be at all useful in contributing to open source, and would never have even tried if it hadn’t been for Rails Girls. I hope that I can both learn a lot AND contribute valuable work to the project.
So far we have had one meeting with our mentor and have set up our project blog. It is using Octopress – the free blogging platform for ‘hackers’. Our first post is about how we set up our blog on there, so if you want to know how to use Octopress, you might find it helpful.
UPDATE: we soon abandoned Octopress due to difficulties we had sharing the blog between 2 users. We are now using Ghost and will have our domain up and running soon. (In the meantime you can find it here, posts by me will be marked as such).