Assignment 1: How I started with GeoNode Open source project

updated on: 2013-09-20

Why this course?

I have never contributed to an open source project before, however I have used it manytimes, including today when I am doing my assignment for my NLP(Natural Language Processing) course. Everytime I use python, Ubuntu or Wikipedia, I am always fascinated with the fact that someone has put in great amount of hard work and time in building these languages, software and information around us. I want to contribute something to the community in return but do not know how. I felt OCPP course is a great opportunity to understand more about the open source community as well as contribute in some meaningful way to the society, and decided to join the course.

Initial Project Hunt:

During the first week of the course, I started looking into various projects which have work I am familiar with so that it will be easier for me to contribute in a short time. Since I do not know how to go about it, I posted a formal introductory mail in various mailing lists like Mozilla, rediff/r/opensource, GeoNode,etc. In fact, I created a reddit and mozilla account specifically for this purpose. In this pursuit, I also talked to many classmates regarding various projects and the opportunities of work including my instructor Sebastian Benthall who helped me by introducing to GeoNode.

About GeoNode:

GeoNode is an open source GeoSpatial content management system. It is a web-based application and platform for developing geospatial information systems (GIS) and for deploying spatial data infrastructures (SDI). It is designed to be extended and modified, and can be integrated into existing platforms. GeoNode makes it easy to explore, process, style, and share maps and geospatial data. Spatial data sets can be imported and shared, all through a non-technical user interface.

Content of my introductory mail:

I mainly wrote about the software technologies I am comfortable with such as Python, Django, HTML, JavaScript, D3, GoogleMaps, etc; and also specified my experience with open source collaboration i.e., a total newbie in this area.

Responses to my mail:

I got variety of great responses from everyone. Responses varied from general mailing list such as /reddit/r/opensource to specific such as GeoNode developers mailing list. On Reddit, I receive overwhelming responses. Many not only suggested projects relevant with my technical expertise, but also pointed to various websites where I can find open source projects to choose from. On mailing lists exclusively related to a project such as GeoNode Developers mailing list, I received a detailed response as to how to go about starting from installation of the project on my local machine to links to various resources like documentation, installation guides, bug reports/ issue trackers, etc. Both the communities welcomed my willingness to contribute and I feel they are pretty healthy communities.

Links to my mail to various mailing lists:

  1. Reddit opensource mailing list.
  2. GeoNode opensource mailing list