This is my first…well, take your pick. First blog, but also first open-source development experience. Being as I’m such a newbie, I think WordPress’ default first post title is appropriate. I’m here thanks to Google’s recent annual efforts to get students off of their (figurative) a**es to benefit any number of open-source endeavours while gaining personal experience. I hope to do both…though I think in my case the benefit may be more mine than Mediaiki’s – I’ve got much to learn. Not that I feel over my head, I finally started going through MediaWiki code in ernest today, and after you get past all the fancy SVN concepts and buzzwords, its all the same stuff I’ve seen before. Actually, its quite refreshing. My past web-programming experience had all been either me doing everything from scratch (no fun on larger projects), or me cleaning up somebody else’s totally disastrous mess for some low-budget site or other. Seriously folks, there’s a lot of ugly code out there powering most any smaller proprietery site you visit. If you ask me it’s its own minor software crisis. I’d pretty much come to the opinion that Those That Knew What They Were Doing found better uses for their talents than making websites do things.

 I should have gotten involved with MediaWiki a long time ago. I actually considered it once years ago and was scared off by a lack of time, lack of ideas for cool contributions, and lack of confidence. It’s nice to see such quantities of comparatively well-organized code, so far with comments as necessary, in a (both human and computer) language I can read. And I think it will be much more fun to collaborate on a project for once rather than being stuck doing everything myself.

 What exactly am I doing, you may ask? Well, after spending the better part of a weekend some months ago drafting a GSoC proposal to WordPress, I decided on the (already extended) proposal due-date to skip math class and whip off another one based on a project suggested on the project ideas page. The focus of the proposal was to allow users to upload video in as many codec/container formats as possible and have them automatically and asynchronously recoded to Ogg Theora, appropriate for streaming to a Java Applet in-browser media player. “Whip off” might not be the right term – I had already done a lot of thinking and feasibility research about the idea, but had all but run out of time to actually write it up. In hindsight, I’m glad I skipped class. (And, thanks to Leslie/the GSoC program directors for extending the proposal deadline, I wouldn’t be here otherwise.)

For more details on the project, I give you my Original Proposal.