Developer Challenge: The Results

The winners of the developer challenge were announced during the Show & Tell Session just before the closing keynote.

The top price went to Russell Boyatt for his Preserving a MOOC toolkit. This idea fits very well with the preservation theme of this developer challenge. As Universities are putting more resources in deploying MOOC, it is very appropriate that capturing the social interaction generated by students and their tutors should become a priority in order to enable future analysis, feedback and validation of MOOCs. This hack was therefore very timely and inspired our judges. It provided them with a take home message – let’s do more to save MOOCs interaction data and we must do it now!

There were two runner-ups:

  • The Image Liberation Team made of Peter Murray-Rust and Cesare Bellini which overlays the license type on top of an image.
  • ePrints plug-in for image copyright by Chris Gutteridge which adds a license and copyright to a image in ePrints.

There were an additional two entries:

  • The Preservation Toolkit from Patrick McSweeney which provides a webservice for file format conversion.
  • The Metadata Creator from Richard Wincewicz which extracts the metadata embedded in PDF files.

These last four hacks are all about improving metadata, its quality and ease of capture. This give a strong signal as to what is a major concern for repositories and their users.

These were all very interesting and exciting hacks! It was a challenge in itself for the judges to reach a decision and award the prizes. They had to take into account the novelty, relevance, potential of the idea and balance it with the production of code during Repository Fringe. Not an easy task! Thanks again to our four judges, Paul Walk, Bea Alex, Stuart Lewis and Padmini Ray-Murray, for their excellent job!

What struck me most during the 24 hours of the challenge is that most developers were happy to enter a hack but didn’t want to win!  Maybe it was the lack of time to dedicate to the coding due to the Repository Fringe sessions running in parallel, ‘it’s not fully working yet‘. Maybe it was that some of them had won previous challenges, ‘been there, done it and got the T-shirt‘. Maybe it was the lack of a new generation of coders to compete with, ‘where is the new blood?‘. Maybe prizes are not the main motivation.

The feeling was that the challenge should come from the questions to be answered rather than the competition with other developers. There was a demand for a different type of event where developers could work together to solve problems that would be set as goals. This would provide a chance for developers to collaborate, learn from each others and code solutions to important and current issues. The opportunity to learn and demonstrate theirs skills seem more valuable to the developers than a prize money. It is more important to have fun, meet other people and build a developer community. Back to basics! I couldn’t agree more.

 

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