Project FOOBAR

Written by Rodney Barnes
April 25, 2021

It is time.

Late last year we were chatting with some folks from Weever on how we might be able to team up on events and other TND activities, and I think it was Jenifer Champagne who suggested organizing a long-running project that would help give students some hands-on experience. It was an ambitious idea, and one that filled us with fear and questions - what would this project be? What if students weren't interested? How could we possibly pull this off?

We spent a long time mulling it over, and decided that the best way to answer some of those questions was to make finding their solution part of the project itself. The students who will be helping to build this project should be the same ones to decide what they will be building. Our role will be as project managers: we'll bring the plan and all of the support, pulling in from our network of professionals to help lend their skills and experience when needed.

So, here's the plan: over the next four months, we will build and deploy an application that has real users, and which will hopefully improve the lives of those people in some way. Here at TND we've always been motivated at our core to help students get jobs; this project will not only give you an excellent addition to your portfolio, but you'll have a chance to be involved in the software development life cycle from idea conception all the way through to execution, learning and applying industry best-practices the whole way.

The part I'm most excited about is that we'll be giving students an opportunity to pair up with professional developers and devops specialists when it comes to taking on the tickets being written. This means you won't need to be an expert in whatever tech stack ends up being chosen; and while it might be intimidating to work with someone who has so much more experience than you, it's also an opportunity to learn from someone who's further along down the road you want to take.

Either way, this person could end up being a great reference for you, at their workplace or elsewhere. It's always nice having someone on the inside when you're sending in your resume.

I'll leave my pitch there. Hopefully you can see the potential here - as with so many of the courses we took in CSAIT, we're hoping this project rewards the effort given to it. The more you put in, the more you'll get back.

Now to the good stuff:


Q: What languages will we be using to build this application?
A: We're going to choose that as a group by mid-June. First, though, we'll need to know a bit more about what we're actually building to help us decide what tools might be best to build it with. We're also going to be bringing in a professional developer to help provide some context around the different programming languages and their relative strengths and weaknesses, and offer advice to us on our project.

Q: How will we deploy our project?
A: Similar to the first question, we'll need to know more about the application's requirements before deciding on the best way to host and deploy it. For this part, too, we'll be bringing in a devops specialist to lay out what our options are and provide suggestions.

Q: I only know HTML and CSS - how the heck am I supposed to help?!?!
A: We're going to do our best to make sure that students of all skill levels will be able to contribute. You'll be able to pair with a professional developer to work on tickets, and they'll be there to help you through the whole thing. There will also be a lot of work outside coding/devops - things like helping us define features or writing tickets - and these are things that for sure everyone can lend a hand with.

Q: I'm not really comfortable pair-programming.
A: That's 100% ok. We're only offering this as an option - if you want to take on tickets solo, you're absolutely free to do so.

Q: I'm not sure how much I can commit to this project.
A: Also completely ok. This whole project has been set up to allow people to contribute as they can. That might mean you only make it out to a single meeting, or take on a single ticket, or even just hang out in our Discord and offer your thoughts. Anything helps. We also understand that many students will be taking on a full-time course load, and/or a full time job, or multiple jobs - don't let this project get in the way of that. School and work always comes first. Even if you can't contribute at all this summer, in any way, there will likely be ongoing work beyond August that will be there for the eager when they're ready.

Q: I have more questions that aren't listed here!
A: Come on over to our Discord server, specifically the #foobar-text channel, and ask away.