Guest post: Google Code-in experience #4 (Thomas)

KDE is once again taking part in Google Code-in this year, a contest to bring 13 to 17 year-olds closer to Free Software. I asked some of our students to write about their experience with KDE. Here’s the fourth one by Thomas.

Google Code-In 2012 marks the first time in which I have participated in the Code-In or any similar program. Having some experience with smaller organizations and personal development, I did not know what to expect, but I signed up ready to learn and be challenged. Less than two weeks into the program I have completed two tasks (and now a third!) with KDE. More specifically, I have worked with the team behind ownCloud, a personal cloud
service, to help test and design new features for an upcoming release.

My first task was to help test and debug a RSS reader for ownCloud that was actually developed as part of this year?s Google Summer of Code program. The News app runs within the ownCloud instance and allows for each user to have their own RSS reader with multiple feeds. The app was operational, but lacked key features and was too buggy to be released as part of the ownCloud package. My mentor Alessandro Cosentino (zimba12) helped guide me with testing tips and practices. I also suggested features and changes to the existing help to make it more appealing for users. I personally do not use an RSS feed reader, but I found the news app to be easy to use and enjoyable.

My second task with ownCloud involved designing mock ups for a redesign of the software?s application administration panel. The current panel doesn?t use space effectively and has an excessive amount of whitespace. My second mentor Bernhard Posselt (Raydiation) introduced me to Balsamiq, a mockup creation tool. I designed the new control panel with a much more user-friendly features such as drag and drop and contextual menus. The design looks somewhat reminiscent of Google Chrome?s new tab page, with tweaks to make the interface more powerful for administrators. I also had the opportunity to design potential new features such as system-wide settings per app and an integrated app market. Feedback from the designs has been positive so far.

My experience with KDE through GCI has been phenomenal so far. The community of developers who I have had the opportunity to work with have been very helpful and supportive with my efforts to complete the tasks assigned to me. Alessandro, for example, guided me in setting up ownCloud on my own system for testing. Without my mentors? help and guidance I would not be able to be as successful with the tasks. The information and skills that I have developed through these and future tasks are invaluable to me as a student in both my academic work but also when I develop my own software. I look forward to working with the ownCloud and other KDE organizations in the near future as part of GCI and other programs.