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Reading Code

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Reading Code

Jessy Cowan-Sharp's picture
Course organiser: Jessy Cowan-Sharp
About the Course Organiser: 

My name is Jessy Kate and I'm a web developer and computer science grad student. 

No of Seats: 
Course Status: 

My items in this course


Jessy Cowan-Sharp's picture
Abhaya Agarwal's picture
Adam Collado's picture
Andrew Bloss's picture
Brylie Oxley's picture
Diana Lezama's picture
Viacheslav Rostovtsev's picture
Eric Bréchemier's picture
hemanth hm's picture
Ivan Teoh's picture
Jake Dahn's picture
Nadeem Shabir's picture
Oswald Hugo's picture
Mel Chua's picture
Mel C
Natan Mallinger's picture
Brad Burkett's picture
Pablo Olmos de Aguilera C.'s picture
Gebhard Matt's picture
Rin Raeuber's picture
Rin R
Sebastian Dziallas's picture
Sid's picture
sometwothings's picture
tapesofwrath's picture
Osledy Bazo's picture
William Reynolds's picture
Get comfortable reading other peoples' code, from big open source projects to small standalone apps. #p2pu #webcraft


In the Open Web world, we are often working with other peoples' code. Reading code helps to us to appreciate that there's no magic black box around "other peoples' code"; that it all comes down to logic; that every program has errors; and that sometimes reading the code is the best documentation.

This course will remind us that there is no magic-- only logic. We will dive into the mini universes of open source projects and learn techniques for getting oriented in projects large and small, debugging, stack traces, and simply getting comfortable reading code.

Each week we will plan to cover one open source project. During the week, participants will read specific code sections on their own, and there will be an ongoing chat room, (possibly with people signing up to be present during specific hours) to support discussions and questions outside of class time. Coursework will involve contributing to the public online documentation for each of these projects.   

We will try to cover a variety of project types and languages (javascript, php, python, ruby), and for each project and/or language, information about tools for reading, debugging or understanding the relevant "stack" will be introduced. 

During the weekly course meetings, a different person will lead each session and together we will go over the section of code assigned for that week, discussing our understanding of what is happening, techniques employed, and areas we found difficult to understand. At the end of the in-virtual-person session, the next week's subject matter will be introduced.

Initial list of proposed projects (balancing languages, familiar/popular frameworks, newness (older and cruftier or well developed vs new code))-- this list will be refined with course participants based on experience and interest as appropriate:

  • Drupal or wordpress (php)
  • Django or tornado (python)
  • Jquery, NodeJS or Protovis (javascript)
  • Mongodb (c++) or one of the mongodb language drivers (ruby/python)
  • Need a Rails project
  • Erlang? Haskel?
  • Browser extension firefox s3:// extension (ec2/s3)

Language/framework inspection and debugging tools

  • Print statements
  • Firebug/Chrome developer tools (javascript)
  • strace
  • server log files
  • ... more here (add your suggestions!)

What you can Expect to Learn

  • Code Reading comprehension
  • Exposure to different languages
  • Debugging tools for different environments and languages

What you Might Learn if you Work Hard

  • You might end up submitting a patch if you come across bugs or have ideas for enhancements

Thing we won't Cover

  • Writing code

  • Installation and configuration of these tools, although it will probably be helpful to have them installed (to tweak/explore/break them!), and there will be indirect/informal support via the chat room for doing this.



Since it says in the course

Oswald Hugo's picture
Oswald Hugo
Sun, 2010-09-12 09:07

Since it says in the course summary that the list of proposed project "will be refined with course participants based on experience and interest as appropriate", can we show our interest now?

What I'm most interested in:

in order of interest: -

Rin Raeuber's picture
Rin Raeuber
Sun, 2010-09-12 14:45

in order of interest:

- NodeJS
- MongoDB
- Django
- Wordpress

I like the proposed lists,

madarve's picture
Sun, 2010-09-12 15:26

I like the proposed lists, and for the Rails project, why don't we take a look at Rails itself?

From the alternatives: *

Pablo Olmos de Aguilera C.'s picture
Pablo Olmos de Ag...
Sun, 2010-09-12 19:08

From the alternatives:

* wordpress (php)
* Django (python)
* Jquery (javascript)
* Mongodb (c++) or one of the mongodb language drivers (ruby/python/php)
* Need a Rails (I'd be interested in learning some rails :))
* Erlang? Haskel? (I don't know, anyone is fine for me; I don't have any idea about them :P)
* Browser extension firefox s3:// extension (ec2/s3) (this looks interesting too :))

I haven't used something like mongodb, so I don't understand it :P, but I'm willing to learn if most people want to (the same goes with erlang/haskell).

For me: * wordpress *

Jake Dahn's picture
Jake Dahn
Mon, 2010-09-13 01:17

For me:

* wordpress
* tornado
* nodejs
* mongodb (dont know c++, should be fun)
* Rails itself, or RefineryCMS
* Erlang ( - wordpress looking cms built on erlang)
* Would like to preferably look at a chrome extension, already familiar with s3://

I'm in the very beginning stages of learning Erlang and its very different than the style of programming I'm used to, so it would be great to attack it with a partner. Also I do not know C++ but I'm guessing I should be able to make my way around the mongodb base, so I'm excited for it.

For me: - Wordpress -

Adam Collado's picture
Adam Collado
Mon, 2010-09-13 03:24

For me:

- Wordpress
- Django
- NodeJS (Don't know javascript, but looking forward to learning it :D)
- MongoDB
- Going with what Manuel said and think we should just look at Rails itself

What interests me :*

hemanth hm's picture
hemanth hm
Mon, 2010-09-13 04:12

What interests me :

* Drupal.
* Django.
* Ruby on Rails.
* Jquery.
* Mongodb.
* Browser extension firefox and chrome extensions.

I have tried something or the other in all of them, but yet to do a killer app or a major patch contribution.

I don't have much of a

tapesofwrath's picture
Mon, 2010-09-13 04:26

I don't have much of a preference because I only know a bit of php and javascript. But, that's part of the appeal of the course to me. I think trying to read code outside of my comfort zone will help with any new language. If I had to choose:

no preference on the rest

And, maybe this is elementary to some of you, but how about something on conventions in pseudocode (if there are any :p) or UML? The point being just to get better at describing code in whatever language?

Sorry, I'd like to make a

Pablo Olmos de Aguilera C.'s picture
Pablo Olmos de Ag...
Mon, 2010-09-13 21:17

Sorry, I'd like to make a change Drupal instead of wordpress. =P and protovis instead of jquery =).

Another thing, I was looking to the other alternatives of javascript (besides jquery), and all of them serves very different purposes, protovis data visualization and nodejs is an evented i/o for v8 javascript (haha, don't know what that supposed to mean btw xD).

That's actually the idea?

What interests me: * Drupal *

Nadeem Shabir's picture
Nadeem Shabir
Tue, 2010-09-14 09:22

What interests me:

* Drupal
* JQuery
* NodeJS
* Processing.js
* Wordpress

I am interested in: *

Ivan Teoh's picture
Ivan Teoh
Tue, 2010-09-14 09:53

I am interested in:
* Django
* JQuery
* Protovis

As for rails project,

Viacheslav Rostovtsev's picture
Viacheslav Rostov...
Tue, 2010-09-14 10:37

As for rails project, with rails search gives us insoshi (Socian networking platform), Spree (e-commerce); redmine (project management), not a single project I've heard before of, bu probably all notable.

For Erlang - CouchDB is a cool project and since it's similar to MongoDB, the comparison can provide an additional education value.

Other interesting stuff:


I have been a part owner of a

noucktourno's picture
Sun, 2010-10-03 09:24

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Schnabel Alta's picture
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