Sunday, April 23, 2017

SUSE Hack Week 15

Back in February the fifteenth SUSE Hack Week took place. As always this was a week of free hacking, to learn, to innovate, to collaborate, and to have a lot of fun. I didn't have the full time, so I worked on a couple of small things and a few projects I maintain. I did want to summarize that, so here you go.

The first project remained unfinished. I wanted to fill out Tim Urban's Life Calendar (you might have seen that on his excellent blog "Wait But Why"), but realized that it's not trivial to map dates to weeks in your life. So I wrote a small tool to calculate that, stopped after I had a failing test and had a rough feeling for how to put the dots on the life calendar.

The second project was something I always wanted to do, implement Conway's Game of Life. I had once started an implementation in 68000 assembler on the Amiga many years ago, but never finished it. Technology has advanced, so I decided to do at as ASCII pixel art. Who needs high resolution? The result turned out to be a bit more generic, as a command line tool to manipulate pixel matrices stored in text files, the Pixelist. While I was at it, I also implemented Langton's Ant and a simulation of diffusion limited aggregation.

GivenFilesystem is a Ruby gem I maintain for writing unit tests dealing with files on disk. It's quite convenient, if you test code, which writes files on disk and you want to have a well-defined environment without side effects for testing this code. There were some open pull requests. I reviewed and merged them and released given_filesystem 0.2.0.

I already wrote about Inqlude, where I used Hack Week to finally publish the new Inqlude web site, which is based on the work Nanduni did during last year's Google Summer of Code. It's a great improvement. I also did some cleanup work, including reviewing the open issues. So we have a nice roadmap now. There is some interesting work to do. People who want to help with that are always welcome.

Trollolo is another side project I work on from time to time. We use it for supporting our Scrum work flows at SUSE in Trello, such as generating burndown charts. I didn't get around to write code, but I consolidated some of the ideas floating around and put them into issues. This also is a nice opportunity, if you want to have some fun with writing a bit of Ruby code for a small project. Issues are up for takers.

Finally I worked a bit on the next iteration of my attempt to make git support multiple authors. This would make life with git in a pair programming situation much nicer. Based on the feedback I got on my first iteration and at the Git Merge conference, I started to work on a version which puts the data into the trailers of the commit messages. This is less intrusive and with a bit of tooling it achieves similar results as the version which worked directly on the commit headers. I have something working, but it needs a rework of the trailer handling code. I'll continue to work on that when I find some more time to do that.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

New and improved Inqlude web site

During last year's Summer of Code I had the honor of mentoring Nanduni Indeewaree Nimalsiri. She worked on Inqlude, the comprehensive archive of third party Qt libraries, improving the tooling to create a better structured web site with additional features such as categorization by topic. She did an excellent job with it and all of her code ended up on the master branch. But we hadn't yet made the switch to change the default layout of the web site to fully take advantage of all her work. As part of SUSE's 15th Hack Week, which is taking place this week, I took some time to change that, put up some finishing touches, and switch the Inqlude web site to the new layout. So here we are. I proudly present the new improved home page of Inqlude.

All libraries have additional meta data now to group them by a number of curated topics. You can see the topics in the navigation bar on the left and use them to navigate Inqlude by categories. The listing shows more information on first view, such as the supported platforms, to make it easier to find libraries according to your criteria without having to navigate between different pages. The presentation in general is cleaner now, and some usability testing has shown that the page works better now than before. In addition to the visible changes, Nanduni has also done quite a bit of improvements under the hood, including better automated testing. I'm proud of what we have achieved there.

It always has been a privilege for me to act as mentor as part of Google's Summer of Code or other programs. This is one of the most rewarding parts of working in free software communities, to see how new people learn and grow, especially if they decide to stay involved after the program has ended and become valuable members of the community for the long term. Being able to help with that I feel is one of the most satisfying investments of your time in the community.