Catalyst Open Source Academy 2015: It's a wrap


Twenty-three students completed the fifth annual Open Source Academy successfully on 16 January 2015. The students spent two weeks at Catalyst learning about programming, server administration as well as other activities that are necessary to deliver a software project.

In the first week, they participated in tutorial sessions on all aspects of the software development life cycle (see “Fifth Open Source Academy”), and in the second week they applied their knowledge and skills contributing to an open source project.

The students could choose between Drupal, Koha, Mahara, Piwik and SilverStripe and were mentored by core contributors and experienced programmers of these applications.

By the end of the second week, all students had submitted patches either fixing code or adding a new feature to their chosen application, and a good number of these patches have already been merged into the core code.

In the Drupal team, the students upgraded a plugin that was developed by Academy students in the previous years as well as submitted patches to core Drupal. They were not only helped by the Catalyst mentors but also other community members outside of New Zealand.

The students working on Koha had a wide variety of possibilities to contribute to this integrated library management system. They signed off on patches performing quality assurance work, fixed bugs in Koha, edited the Koha website, contributed to the Koha dashboard and also rescued a few patches that needed a bit more work.

The five students who chose the ePortfolio system Mahara contributed 29 patches, ranging from bug fixes to new features as well as automated tests using Behat to enrich the test suite that is now available in Mahara. During the presentation at the end of the week, the students showcased their work by creating a Behat test allowing their presentation to run automatically using Mahara functionality.

The core developers of Piwik, the Open Analytics Platform, mentored four students this year working on a range of tasks. One student created a theme for Piwik and made theme improvements to the Piwik installer. A focus this year was to improve web accessibility for the software. After a session with the Catalyst accessibility expert Julius Serrano in which areas of improvement were identified, the students tackled a number of these making good progress. Read what the Piwik team is saying.

Lastly, it was the first time that SilverStripe participated in the Open Source Academy. The students were off to a good start creating a new theme for that content management system as well as fixing bugs. They learned about typography and CSS besides taking a look at the SilverStripe code.

During both weeks, the students enjoyed the range of activities offered and the practical work. They particularly liked working together on real projects contributing to open source software.

The graduates of the 2105 Academy all made a contribution to improving the open source software they worked on. Catalyst staff were thrilled to be able to work with these young Kiwis, and we look forward to their ongoing contributions to free and open source software.

Preparing the final presentation of the Mahara team









Preparing the final presentation of the Mahara team

View more photos from the Academy. Photo by Kristina Hoeppner, CC BY-SA.