The open source community is filled with the world’s most talented minds, but fresh perspectives from the next generation of developers are essential to continuing the pioneering spirit of open source projects. Such an injection of youthful enthusiasm bleeds new creative blood into the open source community, ensuring projects stay on the cutting edge and keep up with current trends.
That’s why the seeds of progress are often sown in the summer when enterprising college students attend the annual Google Summer of Code. This global program offers scholarships to student developers who code for a variety of free and open source software projects.
Open Source Matters, a non-profit organization that supports the Joomla open source project, participates in the program almost every year. Students from all over the world participate, often coding remotely from home, from the US to Europe to India.
The Joomla open source community and leadership team frequently contribute to a “wish list” of features where students participating in Google programs can explore their ideas. Joomla has incorporated some of the more inspiring student-written coding into her latest version of its content management system, Joomla 3.3. The result is a series of trend-aware enhancements, including the jQuery library, the addition of microdata, and interfacing with cloud networks.
Migrating from MooTools to the jQuery library
Another Google Summer of Code project in 2013 revolved around incorporating microdata into open source content.
Microdata is a type of structured data that helps search engines define and understand specific terms with improved semantics and context. This student-led enhancement to her Joomla will allow her web users to more easily, accurately, and frequently search content rendered by her CMS. Also, search optimization is very important when you are competing with millions of active his websites.
In the next version of CMS, Joomla developers will add microdata option directly to the user interface. Ultimately, the process is so intuitive that the user simply selects a few options within the interface and the CMS automatically implements the microdata.
Links to cloud service APIs
As of late May, Joomla is putting the finishing touches on the Summer of Code project and completing the cloud library. As a result, Joomla developers can now connect to application programming interfaces (APIs) from cloud providers such as Amazon, Google, Dropbox, Rackspace, and more.
This API extension is technically not part of the Joomla 3.3 CMS. Rather, it is a new standalone feature available to Joomla developers. In theory, though, developers could leverage this new set of tools to build extensions to her CMS, allowing everyday users to manage their files and content via the cloud.
Regardless of the project, students accepted into the Google Summer of Code often continue working on open source efforts for free as a sort of “passion project” after the three-month program ends. In fact, three former Summer of Code participants have become full-fledged members of the Joomla leadership team.
What has truly become a win-win scenario is that students participating in open source projects gain real-world coding experience while the projects themselves capitalize on the temporary influx of new ideas. This benefit is later reflected in new features that the user community can enjoy. Who says colleges don’t provide real life experiences for students?