The Standard Librarians & Rails Girls Summer of Code 2014

The core RGSoC team was Jen Diamond and Stephanie Betancourt. We had a lot of friends in our study group and other people who wanted to contribute as collaborators so we opened up the project to them. Omowale Oniyide and Josh Loper joined on as core collaborators from the beginning of the project and presented with us at Rocky Mountain Ruby 2014. We had other contributors throughout the summer including Rob Wilkinson, Jalil Mohammed, Ashok Modi, Kobi Levy and Eric Mathison.

Feats of Daring

A New Way to Explore The Ruby Standard Library

The Standard Librarians have been creating a new learning tool for the Ruby community over this summer called Feats of Daring. A user will be able to go to our site and learn about the Ruby Standard Library in a very similar way as you would go to TryRuby to learn some Ruby. The user will go through a series of adventures where they will learn about the top twenty libraries. The libraries are also broken down into chapters so you can easily browse through and see what is available.

We Built it, From Cali to Texas

When we started on this project all members and collaborators were based in or near Los Angeles, CA. Midway through we had one member work remotely. The rest of us met in person from 4:00 - 9:30pm, Monday through Thursday at Pivotal Labs Los Angeles from July to September.

Solving A Need while Learning Ruby

A good way to learn Ruby is to explore the Ruby Standard Libraries. The libraries however can be a little dense for people new to programming and Ruby. We decided to make learning more about the libraries a fun experience by creating a tool that breaks the libraries down by using common, real life experiences and relating those experiences to the functions of the libraries.

How we did it

From developing user profiles, to building features centered around our user’s experience, and to creating stories that our users can actually relate to - this was a massive project. We are grateful for the amazing support we had from our sponsors and coaches at Pivotal Los Angeles, our mentor Pat Maddox, and our story coach Mike Bonifer. We had an inception of our project where we broke our ideas down into stories, identified our users and created wireframes. Pivotal LA coaches worked with us four nights a week from 6-9:30. We worked with a different Pivot each night so we were able to see many different teaching styles and methods. Everyone had their own git tricks and ways to break stuff down so we could understand it. They were also great at standing back and letting us work on the project ourselves until we had a question or were about to fall into a giant hole. We did retrospectives and iteration planning meetings to keep us on a roll with the project. We all know how lucky we were to be able to work there and are so incredibly grateful to have had that experience. Not only did we make progress with the project but we learned their Agile/XP ways of working.

Rocky Mountain Ruby 2014

After we finished our proof of concept for Feats of Daring we presented our experiences with Summer of Code at Rocky Mountain Ruby in Boulder, CO. It is an amazing conference full of great speakers and discussions. We met a lot of other developers who have inspired us throughout the years including Sarah Allen and Sarah Mei. For a few of us it was our first professional conference. It was great to see professional developers in action gathered from all over the world, sharing their creations and learning from each other.

Our Mentors

Our amazing mentor Pat Maddox really changed the shape of our project by suggesting that we use mob programming. It helped us even the playing field between people with different levels of programming knowledge, helped stay on the same page and accelerated our learning. He took us on a field trip to San Diego to meet the pioneer of mob programming, Woody Zuill, who let us work with his team. We experienced a well oiled machine of a team working together seamlessly. They allowed us to join in their mob rotation. Each of us worked on a C# project for the first time ever and actually made contributions. Mike Bonifer was our story coach who helped us define the scope of the stories that we are using to accompany the code as Emerald moves along in her journey through the Ruby Standard Library. He also came to San Diego with us to mob and dropped by Pivotal to give us some team building techniques. Pat, Mike and Woody all really helped shape how we worked together.

Our Coaches

The coaches we had from Pivotal Labs Los Angeles are some of the greatest teachers we have ever had the opportunity to learn from. We can’t thank them enough for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their knowledge with us. Special thanks to Ross Hale for opening up Pivotal LA and allowing it to become our second home during the summer, and thank you to our coach Mike McCormick for being our lighthouse throughout this process. He helped us through various hurdles and was our main advocate. Also thank you to our main coaches John Ryan, Ryan Moran and Eric Hu. who worked with us tirelessly as we build the project. Others Pivots who helped us along the way: Mariana Lenetis, Ian Ornstein and Peter Alfvin who worked with us a few nights, Abby Sturges who helped us with our UX, Nikki Thayer who helped us with our CSS, Dave Belotti, Zachary Girshman who joined in on our inception, our Director of happiness Elizabeth Miller.

Thank you to Rails Girls Summer of Code for this amazing opportunity.

We have all individually grown from this experience in so many ways. We hope to coach a team to work on Feats of Daring next year for RGSoC and pay it forward.