Codeaholics, the first Hangover!

Disclaimer: This article was originally published by Codeaholics Team (Xheni and I) on Rails Girls Summer of Code blog.

How we started to get into the open source world!

Xheni and I met each other 5 years ago at the University of Tirana, Faculty of Economy because both of us wanted to study for Business Informatics. At the beginning we didn’t “like” each other a lot because Xheni was an Inter fan while I was a Milan fan, different teams that play in Italy and their fans “fight” a lot with each other. YES, you read it very well, so don’t get surprised if we know football rules/ football players/ teams pretty well because we are crazy about football. The good news is that we found something in common, yaaay 🙂 We attended together the first edition of OSCAL, Open Source Conference Albania, the first conference in Albania dedicated only to open source software. After meeting a lot of other FLOSS enthusiasts at the conference, we discovered Open Labs that is the community behind OSCAL. Open Labs organizes a lot of events dedicated to different open source projects like GNU/Linux, Mozilla, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, LibreOffice etc. Both of us were intrigued by the world of Linux, that’s how we first started contributing to open source and became FLOSS advocates. Now that we have been part of Open Labs for four years, you can see us part of different open source communities because being part of a community has helped us a lot to gain new experiences, learn new things, make new friends and have fun!

Team Codeaholics – Jona and Xheni at Open Labs hackerspace. Photo: Jona Azizaj, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

I was really interested to learn more on how to be a Linux system administrator that’s why I am part of the Fedora Project and became the first Fedora Ambassador in Albania promoting this operating system in my country. On the other hand Xheni was really interested on security stuff and that’s why she is studying Msc in Information Security and wants to become an ethical hacker. In the meanwhile, we have discovered the gender gap that exists in tech industry and especially in open source communities, something we don’t face at our local hackerspace because 70% of the members are girls. That’s why when we travel to different conferences we try to share the situation we have at Open Labs with other people to encourage them and feel more motivated. Even though not all the girls part of Open Labs know how to code, they are willing to learn, that’s why Xheni and I want to help girls start coding and get them on board. Our future plans include establishing a Django Girls and Rails Girls local community, starting with some beginner workshops at Open Labs.

Team Codeaholics – Working time! Photo: Kristi Progri and Jona Azizaj, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

RGSoC, let’s apply!

Xheni’s and mine latest involvement into open source is Nextcloud, a suite of client-server software for creating and using file hosting service, where our contributions consisted mostly on promoting Nextcloud and translating it in our local language (shqip).

At OSCAL (third edition) we met Jan-Christoph Borchardt and had the chance to talk with him. After some months, we saw his tweet about a dedicated scholarship program that aims to foster diversity in Open Source since 2013, called “Rails Girls Summer of Code”. Both of us were really enthusiast and happy to hear about such a great opportunity that could help girls develop their skills and gain new exciting experiences. After posting this on the Open Labs forum to share it with all the girls, we even organized an “unofficial” meeting with all the interested girls to help each other with the process. It was the first time that 4 teams from Albania applied to be part of RGSoC!

Why Nextcloud?

After picking each other as teammates, Xheni and I had to decide about the project we wanted to spend all their summer working on. Wait, what about the name of the team? Hmmm let’s say we needed only a couple of hours to find the appropriate name for us. And it was not very difficult, because both of us are CODEAHOLICS. Yes, I mean it! We stay awake all night long and we like to sleep in the morning because for us is way easier to work when the place is very quiet, people are sleeping and the only thing that we can hear is our favorite music. Okay now let’s get back to the topic. After scouting all the projects listed, the first one that was deemed a perfect fit for us was Nextcloud. Why? Because we were already using it and we were familiar (not a lot) with the community. Both of us believe that when you use something and you like it, it’s very easy for you to start promoting and working on it, in this way you will always do something that you love and are not forced to. We decided to work on the contacts app and documentation part during the summer. After finishing the application all the albanian teams were “stressed” waiting about the final result. Who could imagine that we would be one of the lucky teams, being the first albanian team part of RGSoC! Imagine our happy faces when we saw the approval email, yaaay ๐Ÿ˜€

Codeaholics at Open Labs hackerspace during. Photo: Anxhelo Lushka, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

Meet our amazing team!

The Nextcloud mentor is Jan-Christoph Borchardt, our coaches are: Joas Schilling, Morris Jobke, Aldo Ziflaj and Edi Hoxhalli, and our supervisor is Benedikt Deicke. We will be working and keeping in touch with them for any issue we might face, help we might need, etc. They organized our workflow by creating a project at the Contacs app repo on Nextcloud organization on GitHub. To communicate with each other, we use IRC, you can find us on #nextcloud-contacts and #nextcloud-dev. Spreed app is our favorite choice when it comes to do the weekly video call with our supervisor. Xheni and I are really happy to be part of the Nextcloud community and to have this amazing team ready to help us when needed. End of August we will be in Berlin to attend the Nextcloud conference and meet in person all the community members. We will have the opportunity to share with the participants our experience as RGSoC students working on Nextcloud, so if you will be in Berlin make sure to be part of the conference!

Codeaholics and their amazing team! Photo collage: Anxhelo Lushka, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

Codeaholics just kicked off their first RGSoC event in Tirana!

On 1st of July we organized our first event at Open Labs Hackerspace at 6pm. A lot of participants attended and they were really interested on this scholarship and eager to learn more on how to apply for the next round of RGSoC. We also had a short video call just to say Hello to our amazing team, kudos to Laura and Jan for joining the video call. After the introduction to the program and the video call, we had a small party with the participants, that made the atmosphere more friendly and enjoyable.

Codeaholics during kick off event at Open Labs. Photo: Anxhelo Lushka, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

By the way, do you know the great news from our municipality of Tirana? The Municipality of Tirana, the biggest municipality in the country serving over 800,000 citizens, goes free open source by using Nextcloud! An important contributor in raising the public awareness on the importance of free open source culture in general and the public administration embracing it in particular, has been the local community of the Open Labs Hackerspace where Xheni and I are involved.

What we have done so far?

Nextcloud is a safe home for all your data โ€“ community-driven, free & open source. It is a very big project, with more then 30 teams working on contacts app, calendar, android, server, spreed etc. The project has a very detailed documentation which helps a lot, also a very active and friendly community. Being part of RGSoC and working on this specific project doesn’t mean to write only code but at the same time combining it with tutorials, learning new stuff not only related to AngularJS but even other concepts related to our work, put in practice what we both already know and shape our skills. Therefore, working on this project has helped us a lot related to the AngularJS part, our coaches have been really helpful (and patient :P) with us when we were working on different issues related to the Contacts app. Jan has done a great job, identifying some starter issues to work on, and working on the workflow we are following.

Nextcloud organization on github.


โ€ฆXheni and I want to thank everyone involved, our mentor Jan, our coaches Morris, Joas, Aldo and Edi, our supervisor Benedikt, and also the amazing RGSoC organizing team for offering one of the best ways spending the summer to all winning teams!! Keep up the good work.

Happy coding! 🙂

PS: Did we mention that we have a logo for our team? Check it out on our github organization for Codeaholics. And… don’t forget to follow us on twitter! ๐Ÿ™‚

Codeaholics logo, thanks to Anxhelo Lushka for designing it. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.