Participating in GCI16 with FOSSASIA

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Me working with the loklak_search repository!

It’s been a little over two weeks since I joined the FOSSASIA community at Google Code-in 2016, and I am loving the experience so far! The community is ever so supportive; the Slack channel for the competition is bubbling with people willing to help with everything from squashing commits to dealing with exam anxiety, and the website repository on Github is fairly well organized and maintained.

To give a brief introduction to the organization, FOSSASIA (http://fossasia.org/) is Asia’s largest open source technology organization. The non-profit organizes a large tech summit every year, and this year, it’s taking place in Singapore in March. They also have many open source software projects going on, including open event app generators, personal assistant tools, social media message search servers, and WordPress plugins. It is an open community

I was looking at the Google Code-in website to decide which organization to contribute to, and I chose FOSSASIA due to the diversity of tasks, openness to collaboration, and focus on web development. I’ve completed several tasks so far, and most of them were related to the open event web app generator and the GCI16 website. The GCI16 website in particular is constantly evolving, and it makes me happy to see the design changes and additions that occur on a daily basis. Fun anecdote: the first task I completed was creating a “Contributors” section on the website, and when I started it there were exactly two contributors. Now, there are over 50, and we had to limit the section to people with over 4 contributions because there were just too many for the website to handle!

I’d also like to introduce a few FOSSASIA projects that I find fascinating.

1. Flappy SVG Game

I’m sure you all remember the Flappy Bird hype that started about a year ago — since then, the original app was taken down after an explosive response on the App Store, but several clones have appeared (which isn’t so surprising, given that it’s such an addictive game :p). But FOSSASIA’s Flappy Bird is quite unique. It uses the open source vector graphics format SVG, and is entirely built by contributors and students who have added backgrounds, sounds, characters, images, and backgrounds for the app. Anyone can download the app or deploy their own version of the app on their phone/computer, so it’s a very accessible project.

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Overall, it’s a great chance to get acquainted with game and app development! I plan to complete more GCI tasks related to Flappy SVG in the coming days.

2. Open Event Android App Generator

The Open Event Android App Generator is a project that automatically creates Android apps for events solely based on JSON data. As the README.md file on Github states, the project consists of two components: the app generator web app, and the Android app itself. First, the app generator is a web app that is hosted on a server, and it receives a JSON data input from event organizers to create a basic Android app for the event. You can include information about speakers, schedules, and tickets in the data file, and the tool will automatically generate an app! You can then customize the Android app by adding color schemes, logos, and tweaking the JSON data display.

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I think this is an extremely useful tool for small-scale event organizers in particular, who don’t have the time or resources to create an elaborate app from scratch. When I was organizing a hackathon in Korea last year, I had to create an iOS and Android app containing the schedule, speakers, maps, and a chat bot (!), and I remember it being very time-consuming. If only I had known about the open event generator back then…

3. Loklak_search

I’ve written about the loklak_server in a previous post, but there’s another component of the same project that’s also very exciting. The loklak server is a server application that collects messages from various social media sources including Twitter, providing information such as tweet content, locations, and accounts. Loklak_search creates a website using the loklak server as a data source. Using this tool, you can create a search site or embed a search tool within your website that offers features such as timeline search, account search, and geolocation search.

I worked with loklak_server and loklak_search for a GCI task (implementing a loklak API webtweet section for the GCI website), and the code on Github was well organized and easy to use. The API initially didn’t work because it didn’t accept https: protocols, but I ended up using an instance of the API created by Nicco Kunzmann. Check it out here!


I am sincerely looking forward to contributing more to FOSSASIA and working on their projects!

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