Eclipse WTP Summer Student Team

Our summer class began on May 12 and the Eclispe WTP team has 5 students on board. Jordan is the mentoring professor and he is very kind to take me in as a teacher-researcher. Yesterday (June 3) I experienced some interesting interaction in our face-to-face team meeting. Here is a brief description.

John showed us how to create screencasts and the video version of installing the Eclipse WTP platforms. Then he used Bugzilla to show us about his Bug 241429. He already got a response from Angel Vera on Bugzilla. As a mentor, Jordan first let John know that this bug is complex as threads are involved here. He then advised John to have a time frame such that he would not spend the whole semester (11 weeks left) on investigating the bug. I also told John that it’s very important to set a time frame in order to be a productive student-developer. There is a time to “kill” a bug; there is a time to “drop” a bug.

Tommy did a live demo on reproducing his Bug 251637. As a mentor, Jordan said that the practical value of having this bug fixed would be significant. However, design issues are involved here. He advised Tommy to write up his proposed solution and post it to Bugzilla. Without feedback from the WTP committers, Tommy would waste his time and
energy in fixing this bug. Tommy was concerned that he did not know how long he had to wait for the feedback. Meanwhile, he would do research on how SWT is used by Eclipse WTP. I told Tommy that he could also join other students on the team to investigate their bugs.

As Tommy was giving a live demo on his bug, Kevin said that Nabeel (who was absent at our meeting) has been working on something similar. How did Kevin know? He has been reading Nabeel’s blog postings. How did Kevin make this connection? He said that he experienced this in the first Eclipse WTP class last semester. Furthermore, Kevin demonstrated that he was able to provide technical solution right on the spot. As Jordan commented in our meeting, Kevin managed to set up another IRC channel (#seneca-wtp) in real time when all of us were chatting on the #seneca channel. If you were an employer in the IT field, would you be interested in having such an employee?

Regarding his Bug 236976, Kevin used his blog posting to show us his proposed solution. As a mentor, Jordan commented that this bug is related with design. He also asked Kevin about his interest level in doing GUI programming with SWT. In light of Jordan’s remarks, I suggested to Kevin that he should also post his proposed solution to Bugzilla. Like Tommy, his work will not be productive without getting feedback from the WTP committers. Meanwhile, Kevin said that he would continue working on Bug 244862. Tahereh from last semester did some work on it. Jordan encouraged Kevin to build on what Tahereh has done with that bug.

Terry, a newcomer to the Eclipse WTP student team, gave live demos on two bugs, Bug 245698 and Bug 154860. As a mentor, Jordan pointed out that the practical value of fixing Bug 245698 would be significant. As for Bug 154860, Jordan’s comment was insightful:The bug looks simple at the surface level but…Since it’s SWT related, I suggested to Kevin if he would be interested in investigating this bug.

At the end of our meeting, Jordan said that everyone is stepping on “unchartered territory.” Team collaboration will be important. As for me, I’m excited about going on another adventure with this team of 5 students. We are facing a lot of unknowns; yet we are also facing the possibility of surprises and excitement.

I also gave some final remarks to the students: “Keep yourself busy every week. By the end of the semester, you will be amazed by how much you have accomplished. While you’re waiting for the WTP professsional developers to give you feedback, collaborate with other students. Do research on SWT using various Eclipse newsgroups.”

To conclude my posting here, I appreciate what David Humphrey has asked the Mozilla community to do – “a brand new bugzilla keyword to help us flag such bugs: student-project.” Is the Eclipse Foundation going to do something like that? Again, I believe that students can make much progress if they have received positive feedback from the professional developers in the WTP community (March 11 blog posting).

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