Google Code-in 2014 wrap up with Wikimedia, part two

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Wikimedia Foundation was one of twelve organizations who participated in Google Code-in (GCI) this past December and January, our open source contest for 13 to 17 year old students. Today, grand prize winner Danny Wu tells us about his experience. He was also a GCI winner in 2012 with Fedora.

We all use open source software every day, but although I had contributed patches here and there, I’d never contributed in-depth to a major project before taking part in Google Code-in (GCI). This year, GCI helped me dive into open source development and join the wonderful, helpful, and talented community of Wikimedia.

This year’s contest wasn’t my first time participating in GCI, though. I had completed tasks with KDE and Fedora in the past. But this time, I was intrigued when I saw that Wikimedia -- the non-profit behind Wikipedia and MediaWiki -- was a mentoring organization. Like many people, I've used Wikipedia countless times. I also knew that MediaWiki powers several of the sites I visit. The web-dev nature of Wikimedia sites meant my skills were a good match too.

My first task involved refactoring Citoid, a Node.js service for looking up citation metadata. I was initially a little scared. There are so many established conventions, and everyone seems so busy. What if I make a mistake? I hoped I wouldn't waste anyone's time. Regardless, I followed a guide and set up my development environment for Gerrit code review, then submitted my first patch. My mentor helpfully pointed out some code convention issues (like trailing whitespace). After fixing those, my patch got merged!

I also completed a variety of other interesting tasks like improving extensions, adding internationalization, and working on MediaWiki core. They were fun and I even learned Python through working on pywikibot. More importantly, it was fun to work with my mentors and the other people in the community. Software isn't made in a vacuum -- it’s written by real people with real interests. Being a part of a community is one of the best things about many open source projects. People helped me graciously when I couldn’t figure something out, and I was happy to answer others’ questions on IRC when I could.

I’ve learned a lot through GCI: new tools, the value of code reviews, and even that it’s fine to not know exactly what you're doing at first as long as you're willing to learn! I had a fantastic time and am grateful to have been selected as a Grand Prize winner. I'd like to repeat what Wikimedia mentor Andre Klapper said previously -- thank you!

by Danny Wu, GCI grand prize winner