[personal profile] alexbayleaf in [community profile] growstuff

Originally published at Growstuff Blog. You can comment here or there.

Today we have an interview with Mackenzie “maco” Morgan, one of Growstuff’s volunteer open source developers. Growstuff is build by a community of developers all around the world; maco lives in Washington, D.C., where she works for a big tech company and is planning an orchard for her new house.

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Hi, maco! Great to talk to you for the blog. So, to start with, what drew you to working on Growstuff? What do you get out of it?

When my friend Skud said she was making an open source site for vegetable gardening, I jumped. I grew up with a mom who made 10 gallons of spaghetti sauce from the garden each summer. It was good timing too, because I was looking at moving somewhere I could garden. This seemed like a fantastic project. But I didn’t know Ruby, the programming language used to build Growstuff, so I held off.

Contributing to Growstuff is working really well for me as an avenue for professional development.

Right now, my day job is as a software engineer at a major tech firm working on some very old code. It’s in a language that has long since seen its heyday, and I’m not doing very complicated stuff, so I started to worry my skills weren’t holding their edge. I realized I needed to get up to date on the latest and greatest technologies and current industry best practices. Ruby is one of the most popular languages in use right now, and Growstuff is following all the new processes for making software better, faster, like agile and unit testing. Contributing to Growstuff is working really well for me as an avenue for professional development. Why spend thousands of dollars on some professional development courses, when I can instead spend a few evenings making the software I use better?

Do you have experience working on other open source projects? Is Growstuff similar or different, and in what ways?

Yes, I worked on Ubuntu for several years while in college and sent in patches to various GNOME and KDE projects, along with the [dreaded?] Linux kernel. I find Ubuntu and Growstuff are similar in their desire to recruit and their helpful attitude in training new developers. It was sometimes more uphill in other projects. On the other hand, Ubuntu was a lot of packaging work, integrating patches from upstream, etc. I didn’t do feature work. I am loving being able to work on new features in Growstuff.

What are you working on right now? Why do you think it’s important/what makes you want to work on that in particular?

Right now I’m working on adding photos to harvests. I want to show off my pretty tomatoes! This is actually turning out to be a bigger task than I really expected because when photos were added to plantings, they were pretty tightly tied together, so I’m having to separate them out a bit and make the photo framework more flexible. At this point, it seems to be *working*, but I need to add some tests around the photo feature to make sure we know right away if any future changes could break it.

Growstuff developer Mackenzie "maco" Morgan

Growstuff developer Mackenzie “maco” Morgan

Any features you’d like to work on in future, or dreams of things you’d love to see Growstuff do, on the technical side?

I want to work on harvest totals. Right now, we can list our harvests in kilograms, pounds, or ounces, but it’d be awesome to be able to see just how much I got out of the garden total this year.

What’s growing in your garden right now? Or what are your garden plans/dreams/wishes?

I’ve got sweet potatoes, squash, onions, and several heirloom varieties of tomatoes growing right now. I already dug up and ate the potatoes. I don’t think I’ll be planting Brandywine tomatoes again next year unless I get a drip system set up before then, because they turn out to be very sensitive to water levels and crack easily. I’m going to be starting a whole bunch of seedlings from my Opalka tomatoes, though. Several friends have asked for seedlings for their gardens.

The really big exciting thing for this fall is that I’m putting in an orchard in the southeast corner of the yard! I’m going to have 4 dwarf fruit trees and a semi-dwarf almond tree. Hopefully I’ll get that drip system in too. It’d be good for the orchard.

Anything you’d like to say to people who might be interested in the Growstuff project?

If you think of something Growstuff can’t already do, say so. Like any open source software project, we can always use more contributors.

First off, try it out. There are some handy features in place, and if you think of something Growstuff can’t already do, say so. Like any open source software project, we can always use more contributors. If you’re not a Ruby programmer (yet), testing is really helpful, and there’s sure to be someone involved who’d like to help you learn if or when you’re ready to give it a go.

Thanks, maco!

If you’re interested in becoming a Growstuff developer, check out our code, Getting Started documentation, or discussion forum.

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