Maker Party and MDN Days Bhubaneswar 2013

Over the last two days, Bhubaneswar witnessed the first Mozilla event in the city. A huge thank you to College of Engineering and Technology, Bhubaneswar, for hosting this event and the four of us from Mozilla. A special thanks to Tarashish Mishra for his idea, efforts and enthusiasm in organizing this event in his college. We learnt a lot and tried to give our best to spread the love for Mozilla and open-source, and we made a number of new friends who would love to be a part of the Mozilla mission.

Day 1 – Maker Party

The first day of the event was dedicated to Webmaker. Priyanka and Sayak conducted a highly successful Maker Party, which saw as many as 48 submissions from nearly 50 participants. Nayanika and I assisted the partipants with any help needed in understanding or using the Webmaker tools. Thimble and X-Ray Goggles turned out to be a hot favourite among the participants. Even though the crowd did not have enough exposure to HTML, CSS or JavaScript, they took the time to learn about them and come with some interesting makes.

Day 2 – MDN Day and Firefox OS

The second day was full of tracks on Mozilla Developer Network, aka, MDN. Priyanka conducted a documentation sprint on MDN, trying to improve existing articles, while I conducted a code sprint, where participants would work on the code-base running MDN and try to fix some bugs. The turnout on the second day was around 40, which was more than twice of our expectation.

However, as these students were not experienced web developers or designers, we could not proceed much with the code sprint. We faced several blockers with installing Kuma, the platform for MDN, as a majority of the participants were Windows users, and most of the rest did not have any prior experience in configuring Python based web applications. However, the Demo Studio on MDN got them interested, so we diverted those on the code sprint to hack around demos and create interesting demos of their own.

Our aim for the documentation sprint was to improve some articles on JavaScript which needed attention. But, given that the crowd had no good knowledge of JavaScript, we had to fallback to modifying pages. We did not have a list of untagged pages on MDN, so we asked the participants to go through pages that have invalid tags and fix them.

Introducing Firefox OS

We had conducted a pre-event survey asking the participants whether they would be interested in learning about Firefox OS. The response was highly positive. So, in the second half of the second day, Sayak introduced the audience to Firefox OS. They learnt basics of creating apps for the platform. The focus was purely to let them know about the Firefox OS and get them interested in learning more about the project. The session turned out to be quite gripping and the audience kept on asking questions even 1 hour after the event.

What we learnt

Maker party was a big success, as usual, but MDN requires special attention, both from the volunteers, the developers and the documentation team behind MDN to bring in new contributions through such events. Here are some things we can do to help efficiently conduct MDN events in future:

  1. We need to include some setup script as part of Kuma which will automatically download and install the packages and call pip.
  2. List API methods or some search methods to search list of:
    a. untagged pages,
    b. pages to improve,
    c. pages that need examples,
    so that we can target both novice as well as advanced users.

Other resources

Photo courtesy: Tworit Dash and CET Photofactory.

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