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Open source Christmas: Give a little code

During the holidays, arranged a day for coders to contribute to open source projects with 24 Pull Requests.

Hermes typing in a room with a Christmas tree



It’s kind of hard to avoid the festive spirit at the moment, even if the mind wanders, there’s still the legion of extremely stylish Christmas jumpers to remind you. We all know it’s better to give a gift than to receive one (I might make an exception for wine…), so it was fitting that managed to sneak in a day for coders of all abilities to contribute to open source projects with 24 Pull Requests.

If this all sounds like a club requiring mystical handshakes, I’ll start off with a little background.

What is a pull request?

These days we are lucky enough to have Git for version control when we write software, or any other project that constantly changes .

Git helps us keep track of changes to our code and files by taking snapshots of a project, when you tell it to, so that we can compare to previous versions, especially when we break something…

It’s also clever enough to allow lots of people to work on the same projects at the same time, through code repository hosting services like Github. One of the best things about Github is the ability to “fork” a code repository (or “repo” if you’re feeling hip), making a personal copy that you can modify.

If you fix a bug or made an improvement, you can submit a ‘pull request’ to the original repo owner to merge your code in. The outcome? Lots of people helping on open source projects, and a warm fuzzy feeling.

Even Governments can get involved!

What is 24PullRequests?

The idea behind Open Source code is that anyone can contribute to it, improve it, provide documentation and suggest feature requests. For anyone who is struggling to think of any they use, the list is a long one, including Wordpress, Firefox, Ubuntu, have a look at your computer, there’s at least one thing in there.

24 PullRequests was started by Andrew Nesbitt to help people give back to projects over ‘the advent calendar season’. It started out as a single page, but is now a home to a host of projects needing help, or just a bit of a polish (600+ projects at last count), the aim being to submit a pull request a day. You can hear a little more, well, quite a lot more HERE.

So began a collaborative hack day, kindly hosted by GoCardless in London. We had almost a 50/50 mix of mentors and coders. Codebar is a great initiative, providing free coaching workshops in the basics of web development, aiming to help women, LGBTQ and people who are underrepresented in the tech industry learn in a relaxed environment.

Not just that, but they definitely spoilt us for breakfast:

Fully fueled, those itching to get going did so, and for those just starting out on the path, there was a great introduction to Git by Alex Pounds, with no code, just some Shakespeare in the examples, which definitely made my day.

Post literature and Git lesson, the chatter subsided and we all got to work. It looks very serious, but it was fun, blame it on my photography skills… That’s also ‘action blur’ for style too...

[Look! People coding excitably! actually, lets use the picture below, courtesy of @teabass, as it’s better...]

We definitely couldn’t claim hunger was a factor as we had food from Pronto, healthy and tasty, delivered to within inches of the keyboard and to power us through to the close (beer time) after a lot of pull requests. Bearing in mind the timezones involved, I’d imagine some people woke up pleasantly surprised.

There’s only 8 days to go before 24PR hangs up it’s stylish festive jumper, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the festive spirit next year too.

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