Wrapup: Fall 2014 UCOSP Sprint

EVENTS / 12.11.14 / timwin1
The BlackBerry team at work

The BlackBerry team at work

Back in mid-September we met in Toronto again at Mozilla’s very nice office, to kick off a new term of UCOSP. With six students from four universities and one volunteer from another, the team is ready to do some very cool things this term. While earning course credit for their degrees, our students will be writing open source code and contributing it publicly for other BlackBerry developers to use. For a report of how the weekend event went, here is one of the students, Stefan from Thomson Rivers University in BC:

After arriving in Toronto Thursday, after a long day of travel (for some), the students of UCOSP got together at the University of Toronto for a meet and greet.  We played a few ice breaker games to help encourage some interaction, led by Karen Reid; had a presentation by Raquel Urtasun who introduced and promoted U of T’s graduate program; followed by general mingling.

Friday morning we went to the office of our host, Mozilla.  We were given a welcome to the UCOSP by Michelle Craig, and then an overview of Mozilla and their vision by Mike Hoye.  We jumped into our teams and introduced ourselves a little more.  The PhoneGap team consists of: BlackBerry mentor, Tim Windsor; past UCOSP member and University of Toronto student, Kris Flores; University of Guelph student, Justin; University of Waterloo student, Yifan; University of Alberta students, Tanya and Jim; and Thompson Rivers University students, Stefan and Tim.

During our visit, we were fortunate to be provided a tour of the Mozilla facility and got to see the team members in Toronto at work in their real-world environment.  It was quite exciting to see their development process, the development rooms filled with white boards and Post-it notes that outlined their goals and tasks currently in progress or discussion.  As we are all potential developers, it was invaluable to see the real-world interactions of the members.  Different areas of the office building provided people with the ability to get away from their desks and work in a shared space in the office or to just either relax in a non-work environment or even take up a game of Ping-Pong.

The tasks were divided up by interest, and then the team members started right into them.  As we all learned, there is a learning curve with the introduction of a new API as well as the whole development of a new plugin for the BlackBerry 10 platform.  Each team member was provided with a new Z10 or Q10 for testing purposes.  This will enable us to test the plugins on actual devices and realize the effect of our efforts immediately on the targeted environment.

The initial tasks that we decided upon ranged from finding and fixing a bug in the Bar-code scanner; finish merges for Facebook connect, Google Analytics, and Distimo SDK; support reading audio metadata; and additional support for the EmailSender plugin.  At the end of our day on Sunday, we were all getting much more comfortable with the environment, although there are still some areas of the development process that are not 100% clear, this will all be overcome with time and practice. I look forward in getting to understand the processes of our project and am excited as to what the term will bring.

The students are all hard at work on their chosen projects and great progress has already been made since the opening sprint. If you’re interested in following along with the student project, all the code will be going into the public BlackBerry repositories on GitHub. If you want to get involved yourself, contact me to get started: @timothywindsor on twitter, on GitHub.

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