Sahana Annual Meeting: A student’s perspective.

This year, I got selected as a Google Summer of Code student by the Sahana Software Foundation to develop a rostering tool for their Eden project. As part of the pre-project work, it was necessary for me to get to know the Sahana community and meet the developers who contribute to it. And this opportunity was presented to me when Mark Prutsalis sent a mail to GSoC students inviting us to come over for the Sahana Annual Meeting. I quickly replied with my acceptance, and he welcomed us whole heartedly.

After the nuisance of booking and rebooking my flight tickets,(the first one got cancelled leading to me shifting to an alternate flight), I landed on the other half of the globe where the clock lags the one in India by 9 and a half hours. It was a long journey, prolonged further by a 14 hour stopover in Dubai. Once in New York, and collecting my ill-fated bag, (It’s pull handle refused to come out. Thanks to brutal treatment by the luggage handlers, it was already half broken now.) I took an air train to Jamaica, Queens, and a metro to Penn Station. Once there, I put the bag in my hotel (which was a great relief!), and took the subway to the Sahana Camp.

I quickly met the team working on Sahana and got introduced to everyone. I soon settled in, and was all ears when Jeremy was being explained git rebasing.

Then came the pizza, which was gobbled up and soon after packing up, we moved off to Mark’s place for a BBQ party. It was a fun event where I got to meet everyone, know them, and talk in person to all with whom I had just interacted on the IRC earlier. After the party, we went back to the hotel and checked in, and jumped off to bed after a really long day (literally).

The next day, we headed off to the day 1 of the annual meeting. After reaching the place we found out that, being a weekend, the air conditioning system was switched off, and the board room was slightly more stuffy than one would like. However, we started off with the meeting, hosting it online on Webex too. We began with statements and reports by the Chair, the President, and project heads. Once this was done, we broke for lunch. In the post lunch session, we went round the table, each of us describing our objectives we had for the meeting. After this, there was a breakout session where the 12 of us split into 4 groups of 3 each. As like everything that day, even the breakout session lasted longer than the allocated time, which was a good thing as it showed that we came up with rich ideas for Sahana.

The day 2 meeting, shifted to Mark’s place, was relatively more topic specific compared to the previous day. Topics were decided, and discussion locations spread out spanning 3 different rooms. Topics varying from ‘a mobile app for Sahana’, ‘women outreach program’, ‘Sahana as part of education’, and a lot of other topics were discussed across a mock bar-camp. Questions ranging from ‘what the mobile app should do?’ to ‘should we use Mono for platform portability in mobile devices’ were discussed threadbare, which again goes on to show the openness with which each idea was discussed at all levels and in depth. I suggested a Sahana Summer of Code parallel to KDE SOC and other similar events to promote and get new developers to contribute to the project.

The highlight of this day was a proposal of merging the PMCs of Eden and Agasti and presenting both software as products not projects. This is significant in many ways to change how Sahana is viewed by an outsider. This topic itself was so monumental and huge that it consumed the entire discussion in one group out of the 3 meeting areas. In the end, this topic was again summarized and most of us agreed that it was a positive step forward.

Day 3 was perhaps less significant one to us as students, as it was a Board of Director’s meeting. A lot many ‘I propose’ and ‘I second’ were done, I presume. However, I came in only much later for the post-lunch meeting. I carried my luggage as I would be heading off to the airport after this meeting. This was the last straw for my bag which gave up completely, by ejecting its pull-strap.

On the last day, all topics covered in the last few days were summarized. Everyone gave their inputs and final views, thereafter the Annual meeting concluded.

On the whole, the Sahana Annual Meet was an eventful, fun and exciting few days for me. I learnt a lot about what Sahana is, and how it works. I also gained technical insight, which I hope should guide me in my project.

Last but not the least, I would also like to thank our sponsors: Google, AidIQ, IBM, and the National Science Foundation , who supported the event and made my trip possible.

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