UCOSP Kickoff Sprint at Facebook

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It’s been a few weeks since I met the BlackBerry Team for this term’s UCOSP program, but between the BlackBerry 10 Launch and the excitement around BlackBerry Jam Europe, it’s been a busy time on the Inside BlackBerry Developer Blog. Now that you’ve had a chance to see all the cool things that BlackBerry 10 can do and that our outstanding developer community has accomplished on the platform, let’s talk about what these students are doing to support our developer community through Open Source Software.

(Our Hackathon space at Facebook)

This is our second term working with the UCOSP organization, with a team of students from across Canada. This term we have 8 students, and I’m thrilled with what they’ve been able to accomplish already. First let’s hear from Karan Khiani, of the University of Ottawa, who is a returning student from last term:

“This past weekend has been a great mix of work and play. We were a huge group of people coming together from all around Canada to hack together for a whole weekend. We all gathered for a weekend in Palo Alto, CA and got to do our hacking at the Facebook Campus. From the moment we got to the campus for the first time (I learnt that Facebook is located on 1 Hacker Way) right to the time we left the campus (I learned that 82% of traffic on Facebook.com comes from outside USA) it was a weekend of discovery.

“Apart from having the opportunity to experience the work culture at Facebook, we managed to get quite a bit of work done ourselves. By happy coincidence, BlackBerry was hosting its final port-a-thon for the BlackBerry 10 platform. This was great timing for me as I was just about ready to get my first BlackBerry 10 app into the app store. By the time I finished my first app (a bucket list app), I had become quite familiar with the development process for the platform. This enabled me to spend another few hours to also come up with a second app (“Clock of Death”). The fact that BlackBerry 10 apps are developed using web technologies made things really convenient for me as I have a fair amount of experience working as a web developer.

“The folks at BlackBerry have done a great job with all the frameworks they have published to make things easier for app developers. That, combined with the power and flexibility of HTML5, makes the entire journey quite smooth! I can’t wait to come up with a killer idea for my third app.”

With 8 students, including 2 returning from last term, we are able to work on a few different areas at once. As a top contributor to bbUI.js, and now with a couple of applications developed using WebWorks, I’ve asked Karan to work on a new template for bbUI.js applications so that new developers have quick starting points for applications using bbUI.js. Two other students with strong C++ experience will be working on WebWorks Extensions using the new Template, and the other four are each contributing to the bbUI.js framework. Now let’s hear from one of those students, Haixuan Chen of Simon Fraser University:

(Team members join a BBM group on their new Dev Alpha devices)

“It was a great experience to meet with a bunch of new faces from other Canadian universities, to work on a new mobile platform (BlackBerry 10), and to use a new version control system (GitHub). Everything is new, but a lot of fun too!

“I have had some experience of building web applications using various frameworks, and basic experience with jQuery for front-end UI. But using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript to build mobile application is a brand new wonderland to me.

“Thankfully, Tim has a magic handy Ant build script, which greatly simplifies the process of building and deploying applications. I have already tried the bbUI.js samples at home. So on the first day of the hackathon, I started with the WebWorks extension sample. But I’m more interested in HTML5 and CSS3, so I spent the rest of the weekend working on bbUI.js. We have two students, Karan and Hidaya, who have already worked on bbUI.js for one term. They transferred a lot of valuable experience to newbies like me during the event. By the end of the weekend, I had submitted two pull requests regarding two bug fixes in bbUI.js. More importantly, I had gained a clear picture of the complete workflow of developing a new feature in bbUI.js, and the relationship between WebWorks framework and the underlying native device APIs.”

The students have already been hard at work with coding over the last few weeks and it’s exciting to see their progress. You can see what the students and our other open source developers are working on by checking in on our open source repositories, and perhaps you’ll find a project that you’d like to contribute to as well.

About Tim W.

Tim works on the Developer Relations team at BlackBerry, focusing on WebWorks, HTML5, and Open Source.

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