Les Rencontres Hivernales du Libre, deuxième édition

Winter Libre meetup, second edition.

As Swisslinux.org member, I again had the opportunity to take part to the Rencontres Hivernales du Libre (roughly translated as ‘Winter Libre meetup’), up in the jura, in St-Cergue. This week-end-long meetup, organized for the second time this year, aims at gathering all libre-related actors. This article, originally written in french, tells you the story of what happened there, who attended and did what.

Les Rencontres Hivernales du Libre, deuxième édition

Dans le cadre de l’association Swisslinux.org dont je suis membre, j’ai à nouveau eu le plaisir de participer aux Rencontres Hivernales du Libre, du 8 au 10 janvier passés. Ces rencontres, organisées pour la deuxième fois en 2016, ont pour but de rassembler les acteurs romands du Libre, dans sa définition la plus large.

30 geeks à St-Cergue

Dès la première édition, l’idée a été de profiter d’une période et d’un cadre moins usuel, en allant chercher la neige là où elle est. Viser une expérience de “conférence” plus large; entre informatique et loisirs extérieurs. Lors de l’édition 2015, le beau temps avait permis à plusieurs participants de profiter de chacun de ces deux aspects, entre ski et surf.

Le lieu choisi cette année a de nouveau été le Centre du Vallon, à St-Cergue, pour son bon compromis entre proximité aux transports publics, enneigement et coûts.

Malheureusement, les conditions météorologiques de l’édition 2016 ont été moins profitables, avec un faible manteau neigeux, arrosé de pluie durant tout le week-end. Bonne surprise cependant, avec l’incinération des sapins de Noël de la commune, organisée devant le local par les pompiers, qui a amené une grande bouffée de chaleur à ce week-end maussade.

Il s’y est passé quoi ?

Répondant à l’appel de Swisslinux.org, plusieurs associations et organismes étaient présents, favorisant ainsi les échanges inter-disciplinaires et les discussions animées. Petit tour de présentations.

Map of DPMB contributions

Les bricoleurs du Post Tenebras Lab(le hackerspace genevois) ont profité d’une salle d’atelier pour travailler sur un système de paiement sans fil entièrement libre (matériel et logicel). ATICOM, association orientée vers l’enseignement et la pédagogie, a présenté ses activités lors d’une conférence. Doxel.org a présenté ses dernières avancées en photo-grammétrie avec des senseurs optiques non-calibrés: impressionnante combinaison de technologies pour la reconstitution de scènes tri-dimensionnelles à l’aide de photos prises par des téléphones portables. L’IAPC a amené et mis en place tout le matériel nécessaire pour l’implantation d’une station radio-amateur: entre l’antenne d’un mètre cinquante et les équipements électroniques, l’ensemble en a impressioné plus d’un. Axel & Frank, venus de loin, ont présenté leur projet collaboratif de livre sur les techniques d’empaquetage pour Debian (en allemand). La présentation a abordé les défis éditoriaux (trouver, puis convaincre un éditeur de la viabilité et de l’intérêt d’un livre libre) et les défis techniques (collaboration à deux personnes géographiquement distantes sur un même ouvrage, ouverture de la rédaction aux contributeurs externes, assurer la construction et la distribution du livre dans différents formats, etc.).

Défis et Organisation

Fondue aux RHL16

20 personnes étaient déjà présentes vendredi soir, pour un souper en commun “à la bonne franquette“. Le lendemain soir, 8 caquelons de fondue ont été servis aux 35 participants. Ensuite, si d’aucuns restaient sur leurs laptops, d’autres ont laissé leurs claviers de côté pour des discussions ou des jeux de société. Autant dire que la soirée ne s’est pas terminée tôt!

L’organisation d’une telle conférence, bien que modeste en nombre de participants, est tout de même une suite de défis à relever. Au niveau des repas, la décision a été prise de prendre une équipe professionnelle pour la cuisine: ce fut une bénédiction culinaire! Si mettre en place et maintenir une infrastructure sans fil pour 30 participants n’est pas si compliqué en théorie, en pratique, ce n’est pas le WiFi qui a failli, mais l’uplink Swisscom. La conférence s’est donc terminée en accédant à l’Internet par la 4G.

Swisslinux.org remercie les différents parrains qui ont permis la tenue de cet événement: le GULL et ATICOM pour les soutiens financiers et Liip pour avoir assuré la logistique et le financement du café pour tout le monde.

À l’année prochaine, pour une nouvelle édition, qu’on espère enneigée!

Tags: , , , , ,

Property Based testing : QuickCheck and co

Around the same time last year, I made a presentation of php-quickcheck to my colleagues. This nifty library allows you to quickly test your functions with thousands of generated inputs to easily find bugs in your software by using a technique called property based testing.

The main advantage is that you don’t have to think of test values anymore, just write a generator and let the library do all the work. This way you can concentrate on describing the features of your application instead of loosing time writing tests. It is also a great tool to find edge cases you’ve never even dreamed off.

Continue reading about Property Based testing : QuickCheck and co

Tags: , , , , ,

Git : Tips & Tricks

Git is a really powerful tool but it can sometimes be hard to grasp some concepts and the way of doing some things is convoluted.

In the following post, I’ll try to list a few tips and tricks to make your life easier.

Continue reading about Git : Tips & Tricks

Tags: , ,

Search: Get past English with Solr

Implementing a great search feature for an English website is already quite a task. When you add accented characters like you have in French, things tend to get messy. What about more exotic languages like Japanese and Chinese?

When we tried to implement a search engine for a multi lingual website where we had articles in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, despite not knowing those languages at all, we quickly remarked that our search engine was performing really poorly. On some occasion it wasn’t even returning an article we specifically copied a word from.

We had to do a lot of research to understand what was happening, here is a compilation of what we found along the way in the hope you won’t have to go the same path as us!

Continue reading about Search: Get past English with Solr

Tags: , ,

Discussing ‘open design’ at iadlab15

Andy and I lately got invited to host a ‘lab session’ at the iadlab15 interaction design conference in Bern. We proposed to animate a discussion on a quite abstract topic: open design.

What the true meaning of our topic was, we didn’t know by the time we proposed it. Yet we had a strong feeling that the ‘open’ culture wasn’t as strong in the design scene as it is in the tech scene and wanted to discuss that assumption, openly.

We thus introduced the open design notion with a big question mark: opensource we know since ages, opendata is now proving its value to the world, what about open design?

It turned out the discussions went fantastically well and we got thanked many times for having brought the topic onto the table.

Even more astonishing to us, what we encountered is a generational gap: digital-native creatives showed interest and seem to integrate open practices whereas their elders tended to disregard – if not despise – them.

Continue reading about Discussing ‘open design’ at iadlab15

Tags: ,

Writing iOS Layout Constraints The Easy Way

Coming from a web-development background, native iOS development always feels a bit clunky to me when it comes to creating the layouts.

Yes, there is the Interface Builder and it is a great tool, but sometimes,
things get more generic and building the views and layouts can be more efficiently done by hand.

Except – layout constraints! Writing layout constraints can be tedious work.

Example, making an element the half of the width of its parent element in objective-c:

It is not much better in C# with Xamarin either:

But behold! There is our ConstraintHelper!

The ConstraintHelper is a small C# library to help with the layout constraints and it brings less common concepts like Method Chaining to the layout constraints.

ConstraintHelper is Open Source and can be forked from GitHub.

Tags: , , , ,

Playing well with others

I was invited to speak at the T3DD15, the TYPO3 Developer Days 2015, on the topic of community collaboration. Indeed my presence there was also made happen because there was a big interest both from the TYPO3 CMS as well as from Neos CMS to explore adopting Symfony. Another topic was adopting of PHPCR, again both TYPO3 and Neos CMS expressed an interest in this topic, though not as urgently as adopting Symfony. In fact the Symfony adoption is already under way with TYPO3 CMS developers having already integrated the Console component and looking towards the Routing component next. Neos CMS has long ago adopted the Yaml component and are looking towards the Process component next. Indeed especially Neos CMS might be beginning to adopt quite a few more Symfony, and other components. They are even willing to explore going to Symfony full stack, though it would need to be made compatible with their unique Proxy based AOP solution that enables them to effectively overload the “new” operator.

Anyway, back to the title of this blog post. I did in fact choose the same title for my talk in which I tried to give some considerations about legal but more importantly community topics related to working with third party projects. I tried to make it clear that there valid points for choosing to not adopt third party solutions in every case. I also tried to address a bit how to get people from other communities more involved into the TYPO3 and Neos CMS communities. Overall I must say I am still not quite as fluent with soft topic talks compared to hard topic, ie. code related, talks. I still do not know how much content to put on the slides and how much I can free style. I also still have a hard time estimating how long my talk will last. I guess I will get better with practice.

It was also an interesting time to give this talk, as TYPO3 and Neos CMS only recently decided to part ways. It is not clear if this will be the last joint conference. During my talk I wanted to make things a bit more concrete, especially when discussing points about what might prevent people from collaborating with TYPO3 and Neos CMS. It felt a bit strange as I was mentioning issues with each of the projects. I was worried that I might set of a flamewar, but everything seemed to stay quite civil :)

At any rate, I spend two great days with lots of interesting discussions. The location was awesome, essentially right in the Nürnburg castle, with lots of rooms for people to gather to discuss and hack. Aside from the Symfony and PHPCR related discussions I also entered into a session on diversity as well as on CQRS. Overall it was a very productive environment and a fun exchange with lots of old and new faces!

Tags: , , ,

“Time for Coffee!” open sourced!

The public transport app “Time for Coffee!”, made by some Liipers, was finally published at Github under the MIT License. Furthermore the Apple Watch app for it was also released last week, just in time for the watch release in Switzerland this Friday.

Read more about it at the Time for Coffee! blog post.

Tags: , ,

Drupal Dev Days 2015 wrap up

Last week, I was at Drupal Dev Days in Montpellier with a few other Liipers. It was, as often is with such conferences in the Drupal community, greatly encouraging to see the passion and effort of the many Drupal developers there.

Throughout the week, hundreds of people were working on different projects in the “sprints” (as such code-marathons are called in the Drupal community). Drupal 8 core was (unsurprisingly) the biggest group, but there were many other efforts related to Drupal 8. I was primary involved in the Rules for Drupal 8 effort, which was a fairly large group. We managed to get quite a few issues solved, and the road to a user interface for Rules in Drupal 8 was begun, which is one of the biggest outstanding issues.

It was challenging work, at times, but there was a good mood in the group, and the D8rules team were really great at helping beginners getting started, so many thanks to them for that.

I was unfortunately forced to forgo the conference part of the event due to illness, but I hear it was great. In total, I think the organisers of DDD did a great job – especially with the food. So thanks to them as well. See you in the issue queues.

Rails Girls Summer of Code

The Rails Girls Summer of Code is a global initiative that provides 3-month stipends to women to work full-time on an Open Source project of their choice. The students work in teams of two from July 1st to September 30th, aided by local coaches; applications are still open until April 14th, 23:59 UTC (that’s tomorrow!) and anyone can apply if they fulfil the requirements.

The program is now in its third year and has successfully collected enough money to fund 10 student teams for 2015, thanks to wonderful sponsors (one of which is Liip!) and individuals, through a crowd funding campaign  For the first time in RGSoC’s history, we are attempting to fund an 11th team. The crowd funding campaign is still open, and we’d love to have your support  Follow us on twitter or check out our blog to stay up to date.

Help us foster diversity in Open Source!

Tags: