Q : How I got into Open source? A: KWoC

If anyone asks, two things I learnt during KWoC, it would be —

  1. Anyone can do open source. Its not difficult, you just need to find what you are good at (find a project that interests you and meets your skills) and start from there.
  2. When in doubt, Interact. Interacting with other developers and contributers is a win-win situation. You always pick up something new from others, apart from you query being solved.

What is KWoC?

  • It is a 5 week long program where you can chose from a wide variety of Open source projects to contribute on(a bit similar to GSoC). After selecting a project, you are assigned a mentor who helps you throughout the competition.

The next paragraph is about me just telling how I got into KWoC as a beginner. So, if you are a beginner then this might give you some motivation. Or you could just skip it.

I stumbled upon KWoC in around July when one of my friends mentioned about it. Since then I was excited and was looking forward to take part in it. Back then KWoC 2017 wasn’t announced yet, so I remember checking out their site every 10–15 days for updates. After the projects list was out, I felt like there were so many projects I could contribute to (and I was wrong). Choosing one seemed difficult and I joined communication channels of many projects. I went through the issues of these projects, but couldn’t quite get what I could solve. Soon it was 1st December and I hadn’t really decided what I should go for, so I started browsing issues of each and every project to find if there was anything I could do. This is where I saw a project named B.E.N.J.I. which had an issue “Make B.E.N.J.I compatible with Linux”.

Some tips for beginners like me, on getting started in KWoC :

These were some of the mistakes I made during KWoC initially, which can be avoided.

  1. Don’t find a project that might interest you just by looking at the title or reading the description. Instead, go through the open issues and code and see if you can start solving any. If yes, go for it. If no, you can have a look at other projects.
  2. Getting that first PR (pull-request) approved is the hardest obstacle. Join the communication channel and interact with your mentor to get a basic understanding of whether you are on the right track. Getting that first PR disapproved might be a turn-off.
  3. Try not to get involved in a lot of projects initially. Focus on getting that first contribution made, and make it memorable.
  4. Some projects are fast-paced and have a active community, so you might see issues that you could have solved, already been assigned to others. Try to avoid such a project as your PR might not get accepted because someone already made a similar PR for that issue.

My contributions

(Pull Requests closed — 4 ; Number of commits — 14)

This is a brief summary of what I was able to accomplish during KWoC.

The project I worked on — B.E.N.J.I.

B.E.N.J.I., short for Brilliant and Efficient non-Javascript enabled Intelligence, is a digital assistant to aid you in almost any task that you do frequently on your PC.

#MyFirstPR : Thanks to KWoC, I was able to make my first contribution in open source. I made B.E.N.J.I. working on Linux. There were dependencies of windows based libraries in the code. I found cross-platform alternatives for those libraries, so as to get the code working on Linux. Getting my first PR accepted was happiness!

Pull-Request 2 : This pull-request was more of a addition to the first PR. As requested by Dhruv Apte (our mentor), I made a video demonstration of B.E.N.J.I working on Linux.

Pull-Request 3 : This was at the point of mid-term evaluation, when I decided to contribute on the UI for our project. There was a minor bug in the UI which I fixed in this PR.

Pull-Request 4 : In this contribution, I developed more on the UI. B.E.N.J.I was lacking a Mission Impossible theme to it. Through a styling library for tkInter, I was able to change the theme of the app.

The old B.E.N.J.I. UI
Mission Impossible inspired theme for B.E.N.J.I.

Reviewing 2 pull-requests : After the mid-term evaluations, Dhruv Apte presented with an opportunity to review two PRs based on Linux. This was exciting and I felt rewarded.

About my Mentor — Dhruv Apte

Dhruv Apte (a.k.a the-ethan-hunt) was supportive and motivational throughout the span of the programme. After my first pull-request, he sent an e-mail titled “Great PR”. This is going to one of the most memorable moments of KWoC 2017. I also got a chance to meet him in person and interact with him. After that meet, I was glad that I was part of this project!

Conclusion

There is lot more to be done in B.E.N.J.I. and I would like to keep contributing on this project. Inspired by Dhruv Apte, I also look forward to becoming a mentor in the next season of KWoC.

B.E.N.J.I — https://github.com/the-ethan-hunt/B.E.N.J.I.

My github profile — https://github.com/kb-studios

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