Spring semester review

With all of our club meetings and workshops for this semester over, I’d like to do a quick review of the things we’ve accomplished and discuss what worked and what didn’t work.

This semester, we presented workshops for (and contributed to) the following projects:

– Pianobar, C-based command-line Pandora client
– Overtone, Clojure-based music creation software
– Tiled Map Editor, game map editor in C++ using the QT framework
– Cells, Python-based AI game using the PyGame framework
– CSLUG Website, PHP-based website

Overall, our strategy of presenting and promoting open workshops was successful. We achieved our goals of helping students learn how to contribute to open source projects while at the same time growing our member-base. Our planning meetings helped us get to know each other a little better, which improved our ability to work together and get things done. Our projects this semester were generally larger, more diverse, and almost all of them were real projects that people actually use. Both workshop and meeting attendance was pretty good, especially compared to last semester.

The drawback to our focus on workshops is that our actual productivity (in terms of commits) was diminished. In the future, it might be a good idea to hold regular “hack-days” the weekend after the workshops for people who really want to make a contribution. We tried this with Tiled and it worked out well.

Although they can be fun, it seems like big group workshops are generally too distracting to get much code written. Part of that might be the classroom setting– something about sitting at a school desk just isn’t conducive to focusing on code. It also seems like people didn’t contribute much from home this semester. I had hoped that people would take the skills learned at the workshop and do something for the projects on their own. It’s possible that our attempt at bringing larger projects to the table made contribution more daunting?

I’m sure we’ll come up with some ideas on how to make the club even better for next semester. Thanks to everyone who participated this year! It’s been a lot of fun.

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