Thursday, 3 October 2013

GSoC 2013 - Wrap-Up

I was given the privilege of working with Wikimedia Foundation as a part of my GSoC internship and it definitely was a very well spent summer. I was working this summer on building a "Pronunciation Recording Tool" for WMF under the mentorship of Michael Dale and Matthew Flaschen. I could not have asked for better people to guide me, learned so many new things and put a foot into the world of JS and jQuery. The main aim of this project is to provide a "User- Friendly" interface to upload the pronunciation of a word in its respective Wiktionary page.

Features of the "Pronunciation Recording Tool" that were successfully completed during the course of GSoC:
  • The user can "Record" and "Preview" his recorded voice with the help of a simple UI in a Special Page.
  • The user can upload the recorded pronunciations into his local wiki.
  • The tool also generates the Information template and categories needed for Commons.
  • After successfully uploading the recorded pronunciation, a link to file page is displayed on the interface.
  • Added a constraint that only logged in users can record and upload pronunciations.
Some features that could not be completed :
  • Integrating the recorded pronunciations into respective Wiktionary pages.
  • It also can not currently upload to Commons.

The "Pronunciation Recording Tool" can be tested at :

Caveat : Since this tool uses latest WebRTC and other inbuilt browser API's, it requires a really swanky browser. As off now it works perfectly in the latest "dev" and "beta" version of Chrome. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

My first tryst with Open Source

On 28th May 2013, a mail in my inbox read :

"Dear Rahul,

Congratulations! Your proposal "Pronunciation Recording Extension" submitted to "Wikimedia" has been accepted for Google Summer of Code 2013....."
Perhaps the most awaited e-mail and subject of the e-mail was definitely the biggest achievement of my life till date. 

Human Beings possess this innate quality of procrastination, so I being no exception finally got time to publish my first blog after delaying it for about a month. This Blog is all about ME, Open Source and GSoC. The problem with mankind is we dream a lot, then we grumble a lot about why we can't see those dreams turn reality. We expect everything to just happen and do nothing to help the cause, it is the first step that matters. Ambition is the driving force that pushes a person to the limit. Rightfully so, ambition is universally revered.
 “Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts.”
I always loved coding, but never dared to move away from coding practical assignments which were limited to palindromes, prime numbers, etc. It is with great courage that I plunged into the world of Open Source. Few months ago someone did ask me about Open Source, all I could reply was "FREE SOFTWARE" then. The world of Open Source was like a parallel universe, I knew it was there but nothing beyond that. Now as I am writing this blog, I have a lot more to say about Open Source, it is like a canvas of infinite dimensions for coders and web developers, a place to display their creativity by working with great minds from all across the globe. It resembles Freedom. 

10 months ago, on seeing my fellow friends getting selected for Google Summer of Code (GSoC as everyone calls it) made me a little anxious to say the least. Saheb Motiani(GSoC 2012 particpant and classmate) told me all about the program and gave me an insight to the world of Open Source. All the self doubting questions as usual popped up but tickled my curiosity naturally and I made my first move by approaching "MoinMoinWiki"(Fascinated by the name purely), the only positive here was that I liked the whole "Ward Cunningham" concept of "Wiki" which led me to Wikimedia Foundation(WMF). I read about this awesome wiki engine Mediawiki which is the backbone of projects like Wikipedia and Wiktionary, by then I had this name conundrum creeping in my head, as there was "wiki" and more "wiki" everywhere, I felt at home after I found an article that addresses to the same confusion and was assured that novices like me were always welcomed with a big heart. 

A great first talk with Sumana Harihareswara(Engineering Community Manager at WMFwho introduced me to the MediaWiki community and to Open Hatch which helped me clear up a lot of questions popping up in my head. From there the adventure started, talking and interacting with real developers. WMF should be proud of the fact that it has very active and helpful mailing lists and IRC channel. Understanding the whole concept of  "Version Control" and learning to use GIT took time and finally I submitted my first patch on 17th February(Personal Milestone). One day as I was going through the mailing list I found a feature request wanting for a "Pronunciation Recording Tool", I liked the idea and had painted a rough sketch of it in some corner my mind. Using this feature request as my Project Proposal for GSoC 2013 made me apprehensive in the beginning as I was totally blindfolded from the underlying subtle complexities. But then what is life without risks, so I headed for the mediawiki IRC channel for a discussion regarding my idea. I got a bag of mixed reviews as expected but I was quite happy with the initial response. As a product of the discussion held at the mediawiki IRC channel I made a detailed(v 2.0) proposal and kept improving it daily till the final date. It was tough initially to find a mentor but with great help from Quim Gil, I finally found my primary mentor i.e Michael Dale who would guide me during the summer. Within a few days I got my co-mentor Matthew Flaschen and was in touch with different community members from Wiktionary, WMF Design Team. 
“Software built on pride and love of subject is superior to software built for profit.” – Ravi  Simhambhatla, CIO, Virgin America
I would take this opportunity to thank the wonderful WMF community. Sitting in the IIT-B lecture hall with Jayesh Anandani and putting GSoC 2013 as a top priority task in our bucket list surely was the beginning. Hearty congratulations to him on his selection as well and special thanks to Shalin, Dharav, Miraj, Ayana ,Meet and Meena Aunty for being awesome as they always have been. Love you Mom and Dad!!