Stand-by; go!

Before my actual involvement in the open source software, I’d been a bystander for years. I think the foundations for the spark towards open source was laid out around 1998: I was a freshman at Aalto University. It was back then called “Otaniemi”, or officially: Helsinki University of Technology. Otaniemi is the name of the part of Espoo where the main campus is located in. That’s the kind of “Silicon Valley” of Finland (and if you’re interested in virtual tourism, Aalto university – a brief tour, part 1: the nature at Otaniemi campus).

I remember we had these thin clients outside the main lecture hall. They ran text terminals, and Pine was one of the biggest hits back then. Oh what an efficient program it was, once accustomed to the keyboard shortcuts! I loved Pine. (Nowadays it’s the Alpine at Washington University’s web pages project).

Pine email client

Safe to say that it took me 16 years to get hands-on with open source.

Sure, I’d installed a thing or two and even looked at source code, but I’d never committed anything back to the community. Especially ‘commit’ in meaning: writing code and submitting it.

I think the biggest reason wasn’t certainly lack of time — on the contrary — but that I hadn’t adopted naturally any project that would be “close to me”. That’s also the beauty of open source software: you can be a happy end-user for years, and enjoy both the software and documentation. Then, one day, you might find yourself in the same situation I was in: you participate!

So, in 2015 it happened. I worked daily with a tool called Karma. It wasn’t my bread and butter, but Karma was a firm part of the tools that made sure my code would play ball in the long run (English: ensuring code quality and being up-to-the-specifications). I’d been a front-end developer working with JavaScript.

There are at least two common setup scenarios for Karma: either it’s being used as a standalone tool, or it is part of a longer chain, being subservient to some mighty test management lord. I was in the latter boat. Karma produced reports via text file(s) to the lords. And I’d hit a problem with this particular detail.

[To be continued, in Part II]