UCOSP Fall 2013 Kickoff Sprint

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UCOSP Fall 2013 Kickoff Sprint

We’re back with the Undergraduate Capstone Open Source Projects (UCOSP) program again this Fall, and the kickoff sprint was recently held in Toronto. It was a great weekend, and I’m very excited for what we can accomplish this term with the team of students participating on the BlackBerry project. One of those students, Ben from Dalhousie wrote up an outstanding blog post for us, so I’ll share it without saying anything more about the event:

The code sprint for UCOSP 2013 took place at Mozilla Firefox’s headquarters, situated in the heart of Canada’s largest city, Toronto, Ontario. The sprint spanned three days and included students and mentors from all across Canada, from as far west as Vancouver, British Columbia and as far east as Halifax, Nova Scotia. Participants in the program had the opportunity to meet their mentors as well as the other members of their project groups. The sprint was a tremendous opportunity for students to learn from their mentors, as well as from each other, about how to successfully create open source software.

The BlackBerry team for the fall semester consisted of four students from the Canadian cities of Calgary, Halifax, Sherbrooke and Toronto. Each student was at a different stage in their undergraduate degree and possessed a different skill set. However, we all had one thing in common and that was the desire to contribute to an open-source project. The sprint was a great opportunity for the members of the team to get a taste of what a real-world software company looked like. Getting a tour of the Mozilla offices and meeting with real world developers is something that will stick in my mind for the rest of my life.

The sprint was a great learning experience for me. I learned that setting up your workplace and your environment are two of the most critical elements of developing software. It is worth it to spend money on things that matter such as your mouse, keyboard and other aspects of your workplace. I also learned the importance of interacting and respecting the people you are working with. You have to be able to form a working relationship with the people that you are contributing with if the project is going to be successful. One of the things that I had the most trouble with was setting up my signing keys. I was using a borrowed computer from Dalhousie University and it proved very difficult to get my signing keys properly set up, which is the first step to developing for the BB10 platform.

As the Blackberry team, we have a couple of things that we want to focus on this semester. The first is the development of plugins for the BlackBerry 10 platform. We are working on the Cordova framework (renamed from PhoneGap), which allows developers to use JavaScript, CSS and HTML to create applications that can be run cross-platform without changing any of the code. During the sprint, we broke down into pairs and each tried to tackle two plugins each. The plugins that are in focus this semester are the AudioRecorder, the BarcodeScanner, the MessageBox, and the ExtractZIPFile plugins.

The second thing that the team will be focusing on is creating an application for the BlackBerry App World. Using our brand new Blackberry Dev Alpha C devices, we now have the ability to create applications and test them on actual devices. I’m looking forward to working on the plugins as well as creating an actual application for BlackBerry. I will head back to Halifax this afternoon with a changed perspective on what it takes to be a successful developer. I enjoyed meeting our mentor Tim Windsor as well as other members of our team: Daniel, Alex and Jasmin; and I look forward to learning more about and creating open source software. See you in the real world!

If you’re interested in following along with the code being written, we’ll be tweeting with the hashtag #bbucosp, and all the code will be going into the public BlackBerry repositories on GitHub. We’d also appreciate your input and contributions to our open source projects. Contact me on Twitter or GitHub to get started!

About Tim W.

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

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