Building Technical Talent in the Enlightenment Community by Solving Bugs

The past week or so has seen a significant amount of progress in the gadget backend of Enlightenment, due in no small part to the constant poking and prodding from Stephen Houston: our newest Samsung OSG Intern. As he mentioned in his post, we’ve known each other for quite some time now, so mentoring him has allowed both of us to skip over most of the pleasantries and get down to the code.

Establishing a Mutually-Beneficial Partnership

This type of internship is certainly new to me; seldom do I get the opportunity to sponsor and mentor a member of the community who has already been a contributor for such a long time. Given that I’d been the only one to use the new gadget API released in Enlightenment v21, I was curious to see what others would think after spending some time developing on top of it; soliciting feedback on the API during its development, as I did during my initial development work, hardly substitutes for the experience of spending time working with it in depth.

Before starting on his main gadget projects, Stephen decided he would try to adapt an existing gadget to the new API to test it out. We discussed this for a bit, and agreed it was a sound idea, so he set off to work. I think the first time I heard back from him was a few days after (keep in mind that he only works on this part-time in addition to his real job), and he was nearly done. He had found the new API to be satisfactory and easy to use, which was certainly a relief to me! This was, however, the point at which he brought up the sizing issue he posted a video of. We managed to work through it after a brief discussion of the problem, and he went on to tackle the last aspect of the gadget conversion: drag-n-drop (DND).

Solving Technical Problems While Growing Community Talent

Anyone who knows me or my past blogging knows that DND is not one of my favorite things to work on. While I typically have some choice words to describe it, the fact is that it’s a challenging subsystem to work within due to the necessary message passing between the drag initiator (the user) and the drop receiver. This leads to multiple places requiring debugging and testing anytime problems occur, adding to the complexity of solving problems. Solving DND bugs in a given area, however, is something like a rite of passage, and the tasks can only get easier from there… usually.

The DND issues here were numerous, and it turned out they were all either gadget infrastructure bugs or internal compositor bugs; in other words, I should be solving them to allow Stephen to continue progressing with his own work. I believe this is one of the great benefits of the way we’re running the internship program: in addition to sponsoring community members to continue doing the great work they have difficulty finding time for, we’re also providing the manpower behind the scenes to support that work and allow them to progress at their own pace, minimally hindered by any bugs outside the direct scope of their projects.

At this point, testing has been completed and Stephen’s new pager gadget has been merged into the upstream repository and is available for general use. He’s now already quite deep into the brand new launcher gadget, and I think we’ll have some exciting info to post about that soon. Stay tuned for more updates, as we have some new members of the Samsung OSG Internship program starting their projects within the next couple weeks!

Author: Mike Blumenkrantz

Mike is the release manager for Enlightenment as well as a core developer of the EFL toolkit.