List of tasks completed or in progress (Phase 2)

I will be updating this post periodically with the tasks that I have completed or am currently working on for Phase 2 of the IEG project.

2(a) Make app more newbie-friendly – (5.5 wks)

  • Allow account creation from within the app itself (#48) – Completed, released
  • Warn users if they submit image without selecting categories (#61) – Completed, released
  • Warn users if they press back button without selecting categories (#58) – Completed, released
  • Add page to tutorial to educate new users on what types of images are useful (#95) – Awaiting Pine to complete Commons module so we can re-use

2(b) New location-based features – (5 wks)

  • Display nearby wiki articles lacking photos (#73) – Completed, released
  • Add geocoding template (#35) – Completed, released

2(c) Enhance titles and categorization – (6 wks)

  • Option to copy title and description from previous upload (#65) – Completed, released
  • Suggest categories based on entered title (#43) – Completed, released
  • Filter out year categories (#47) – Completed, released
  • Headers to distinguish where suggestions come from (#76) – In progress
List of tasks completed or in progress (Phase 2)

IEG Update (July)

We are experiencing what I would term as ‘a good problem to have’. One of our measures of success was a 50% increase in active installs, compared against the benchmark of 217 active installs when my grant was approved. It was anticipated that we would only hit that mark after the publicity phase (Phase 3). However, it is only 3 weeks into the grant, and we’ve already exceeded that! 😮 We now have 337 active installs and counting.

Why is that a good ‘problem’? Well, due to the nature of how Android works. Unlike iOS, which is fairly standardized (AFAIK iOS devs only need to target one version and one type of hardware at any time), Android is a much more multifaceted beast. OS updates are not mandatory, so many manufacturers don’t push Android updates to their devices, especially older ones. As a result, the more users you have, the wider the variety of Android versions and hardware your app runs on, and the higher the potential of things breaking. Also, of course, more users try more things that you wouldn’t have thought of.

statistics_20Jul

As you can see from the pie chart, our users are split between several versions. The most popular are Android 6.0, Android 5.1, and Android 4.4. Those are all very different and code that works for a particular version might not necessarily work for another. Also, the existing code for the app is fairly old (from a few years back), so several changes needed to be made to make it compatible with the newer versions of Android. The runtime permissions feature introduced in Android 6.0 in particular has been the source of several bugs.

My initial plan for Phase 1 did account for the possibility of a few new crash reports coming in… but I hadn’t accounted for anywhere near the number that actually did come in. As a ballpark figure, about half of the bugs that I have fixed so far were reported after the start of the grant. As a result, as Phase 1 draws to a close, I find myself needing to prioritize new bugs that were causing significant problems for multiple users (like the API 23 camera bug and the Google Photos bug), and having to potentially put aside some of the less-serious bugs that I was initially intending to fix (for instance, my pet peeve bug is Newly uploaded picture replacing some of the other pics (in My Uploads page) , but that hasn’t yielded any success after spending a few hours on it, and no other users have complained about it).

There is still about a week left in Phase 1, and I will do the best I can to fix what I can manage. Ideally, I would be able to fix everything. But unfortunately, realistically I think that would be unlikely before I have to move on to Phase 2. 😦

Update 29th July: Moving on to Phase 2 as planned. Most of the major bugs have been fixed in Phase 1, so fingers crossed that the new users that we are acquiring on an almost daily basis do not experience much trouble with the app.

 

IEG Update (July)

List of bugs fixed (Phase 1)

This post contains a running list of bugs fixed and Google Play releases of the app, for Phase 1 (Fix existing bugs/crashes) of my IEG project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

List of bugs fixed (Phase 1)

A new chapter begins: IEG

My IEG proposal has been selected for this round! 🙂 I’ll be spending the next 6 months working on the ‘Upload to Commons’ Android app, and I’m absolutely psyched. It’s been announced on the official Wikimedia blog as well (woohoo!). I marvel at how it seems like not so long ago that I was downloading the GitHub client for the first time and trying to figure out the whole collaborative open source thing… I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Outreachy and my two amazing mentors. Mentored internships are awesomesauce. Srsly. It’s never too late to do one.

In other news, the ‘Upload to Commons’ app is now known as the ‘Wikimedia Commons’ app! Yes, we’ve been authorized by Wikimedia Foundation to use their trademark Commons logo and name, contract has been signed and all that. There was a little snag with the app being suspended while we tried to get the contract to Google, but that should all be sorted now. Hopefully.

We also had our first new collaborator on our GitHub repo in a long time, and he’s done some really awesome stuff, including helping us migrate our project to Gradle (using Maven with outdated dependencies on Android Studio was a huuuuge pain in the butt). Welcome, Adam Jones!

Will probably try to update more often, with my IEG project starting and all. Stay tuned! 🙂

A new chapter begins: IEG

Three cheers for Outreachy!

Outreachy’s goal is to encourage more people to get involved with FOSS – and I think they’ve succeeded in my case! I’ve always identified with the ethos and ideology of FOSS, have always wanted to contribute, but was previously too intimidated to get involved. Plus, lets be honest – starting out is always one of the most difficult parts, starting out without a mentor is harder, and starting out without a mentor while simultaneously juggling a day job even more so.

While I can’t say that Outreachy inspired my interest in FOSS (I’ve always been interested), they’ve provided a clearer and easier path to get involved by alleviating the other two issues – mentors and finances. Having the opportunity to get paid to work on FOSS full-time while being guided by experienced FOSS contributors has been absolutely fantastic, and has helped me get over the starting-out hump. Thank you, Marina and everyone else behind Outreachy. 🙂

So…. what next?

I’m still unsure as to where I’ll go from here with regards to FOSS. Being able to continue working on FOSS (and with Wikimedia) as a job would be amazing. Wikimedia offers Individual Engagement Grants for people who want to undertake a project to improve various aspects of it, so I’ve submitted a proposal for the next IEG round. It’s a bit of a far-reaching goal – I’m not a long-time contributor and I haven’t received too many endorsements on my proposal yet – but it’s a goal all the same. 🙂

Three cheers for Outreachy!

Guide: Applying to Wikimedia for Outreachy/GSoC

Applications for this round’s GSoC and Outreachy programmes are in full swing, with the associated flurry of activity. Yay, the community grows! 😀

I did my Outreachy project with Wikimedia, which turned out to be an excellent choice for me. IMO, working on a project that you actually use in your personal time is a huge advantage – you’re constantly motivated by seeing the improvements you make being used by other people… and yourself.

That being said, I won’t lie, the application process for Wikimedia is a bit more complicated than that of some other organizations (albeit very thoroughly documented). There are several additional requirements, and if you are new to everything it might feel slightly overwhelming. But do not worry! This little guide is for you, from one newbie to another. 🙂

(Disclaimer: This is a rough guide based on my personal experiences in the Dec ’15 – Mar ’16 Outreachy round, and do not reflect the views of Wikimedia Foundation. Also, there may be differences with GSoC that I am not aware of, but AFAIK the two have an extremely similar application process. Also, this is not intended to be an exhaustive guide, but rather to highlight the Wikimedia-specific requirements that are not covered much in the GSoC/Outreachy guidelines.)

Getting started

Essential reading: Life of a successful project. You will be referring to this page multiple times during the process of your application and internship.

Phabricator is the lifeblood of technical collaboration in Wikimedia. Everything on Phabricator is a ‘task’ – the project task you pick, the proposal task you will make, the reports you will write later on. Tasks are associated with project boards which are essentially ‘groups’ of tasks – for instance, this is the GSoC 2016 board.

Finding a project and mentors

There are 2 main options for finding your project:

The “Featured project ideas” column on the GSoC or Outreachy project board contains the project tasks that are ready for you to choose – they have been approved by the community and have 2 mentors ready for it. This is the easier route.

Another option is to scour Possible-Tech-Projects for projects that may or may not be ‘ready’ yet. This is a viable option but involves more effort and risk – you will also be responsible for finding your own 2 mentors (yes, 2 are usually required by Wikimedia, the lead mentor and a co-mentor). This is the route I took, because there was a particular project that I really wanted to do that was not featured yet.

Complete your microtask

This step is similar with Outreachy or GSoC’s requirements and varies widely depending on the project you chose, so there isn’t much to elaborate on.

Drafting your proposal

GSoC/Outreachy has its own application template, but your Wikimedia proposal is a separate requirement. Create a Phabricator task – this will be your proposal task – and follow the template stated. Some of the questions will overlap with your GSoC/Outreachy application, copy/pasting between the two is okay. Associate your proposal task with the project task.

As far as I know, only one intern can be accepted for one project. The selection process is described here, along with the criteria used for selection. From my observation, the thoroughness and quality of your proposal matters a lot, so it is worth putting some thought and time into a good proposal. You also need to have fulfilled programme-specific requirements, such as not having too heavy a university load during the 3 months of the internship for Outreachy.

By the application deadline, your proposal should be mostly complete and residing in the ‘Proposals Submitted’ column of your project board and you should have at least one microtask completed.

Selection

The mentors for each project task will select their preferred candidate and there will be a discussion with the organization admins to determine the selections. However, GSoC or Outreachy admins also have the right to reject applicants who do not fulfill various programme-specific requirements.

Community bonding period

Hooray, you got accepted! Congratulations. There will be a community bonding period during the week prior to the start of your internship; more on that here. The community bonding period is fairly time-consuming, so you would ideally not have full-time commitments during that week as well.

 

All the best folks!

Guide: Applying to Wikimedia for Outreachy/GSoC

We made it! (aka Outreachy wrap-up report)

I can hardly believe it – the project is complete and Outreachy is nearly over! When I started, I was plagued with doubts about whether or not I could do it – I didn’t have a clue on how to do many of the things that we’d planned. But it all worked out in the end, and in fact turned out better than I expected. Perhaps it’s okay to not know how you’re going to do something, perhaps it’s a normal part of a developer’s life? That’s one of the more important lessons I’ll be taking away from this, at least.

But enough of my rambling, here’s the final summary of the Upload to Commons Android app project. The main goal of the project was to improve the image categorization functionality of the app by offering relevant category suggestions based on geolocation, and making category search more flexible. Download the latest version of the app here, or check out its source code here!

Category suggestions based on geolocation

If a picture with geolocation is uploaded, nearby category suggestions are offered based on the categories of other nearby Commons images. We query the Commons MediaWiki API for the Commons categories of pictures with geolocation within a radius of 10km of the uploaded pic’s geolocation. The categories found are also cached using the quadtree library, so that if another picture with similar geolocation is uploaded, the cached categories are displayed and the API is not queried. This is done to reduce the load on the API, as people often upload several pics with similar locations.

Example: Uploading an image of the Hamilton Gardens with geolocation:

Entering the title and description:

Category suggestions obtained:

If a picture with no geolocation is uploaded, nearby category suggestions can be offered based on the user’s current location. This is useful if someone doesn’t want to geotag their pictures, and uploads them while still in the same area. The feature is optional and only works if enabled in Settings (disabled by default for privacy).

Enabling the ‘use current location’ settings:

More flexible category search

Category search (when typing in the search field) has been made more flexible. Prior to this, category search was done solely by prefix search. E.g. if you searched for ‘latte’, you would only get categories that start with ‘latte’, which excludes many potentially relevant categories (i.e. ‘iced latte’). Prefix search is useful when you are certain of what the exact name of the category you want is, but not so useful if you are unsure. So we wanted to retain prefix search, but also provide additional suggestions for relevant categories that do not share that prefix.

We query the Commons MediaWiki API for pages of type “Category” (srnamespace=14), maximum 10 results (srlimit=10). These results are aggregated with the prefix search results and the duplicate suggestions are eliminated before they are displayed.

Example: Searching for ‘latte’ categories:

We made it! (aka Outreachy wrap-up report)