Back in August we announced the formation of the Engineering Working Group, tasked with trying to attract more developers by lowering barriers to entry. Since then we’ve seen some good technical coding work and other achievements in and around the activities of this group:
- OpenStreetMap is now rolling with rails version 3, thanks largely to the hard-working Tom Hughes. Besides deploying it, and ironing out a few nasty problems with sessions, he did the work of porting the code over. The website and API code needed to take account of differences and new features of rails 3, particularly the use of AREL for database querying.
- Kai Krueger has packaged this rails code, and also Mapnik and mod_tile, into an unbuntu PPA. This packaging system offers a very simple way to install these tools (and keep them up to date) on ubuntu/debian . We’re currently testing this, and hope it’ll make it much easier for developers to hack on the code for openstreetmap.org.
- Working with Mike Migurski we have a more attractive, and more helpful page sitting at planet.openstreetmap.org, the OpenStreetMap data downloads site. Mike, and stamen design, are also now providing “metro extracts” – more manageable (smaller) files for OpenStreetMap data, one city at a time.
In addition to these, the Engineering Working Group has dived head first into the big tasks of improving technical documentation, and tidying up the bug tracker.
Clearly these are things which would happen anyway within the OpenStreetMap developer community, and the achievements are down to the hard work of individual people. But the Engineering Working Group lends a little structure, and provides a forum for taking a step back and looking at these kinds of meta-development. Development which helps development!
You can find out more about the Engineering Working Group on the OSMF site, and anyone is welcome to join in their discussions, which take place every Monday on IRC (details)
London Hack Weekend – 26th, 27th
Perhaps you’d prefer to join in face-to-face? Come along to a “hack weekend”! EWG is also involved in this, and trying to get more developer events happening, in more locations. For the moment though we have one coming up at the end of the week…
See the London Hack Weekend details on the wiki (and sign up there)
“An OpenStreetMap ‘hack weekend’ is a meet-up where we bring along laptops to an office space and spend the weekend doing some technical work to improve OpenStreetMap. This may be development of the “core” components, the editors, or any other side projects and pet projects we fancy hacking on. OpenStreetMap has development tasks sprouting from it in all directions. There’s work to do in almost any programming language, as well as tasks like documentation, and even some non-technical graphics design and translation tasks.
We mostly take a fairly unstructured free-form format. People turn up and start beavering away on something, or they turn up and see what they can help with. However we can also run more structured workshops if there is demand”
Whether you can make it to a hack weekend or not, we are always looking for more technical people to help with improving OpenStreetMap.