Last week, Oliver and I were interviewed by the Dalhouse Gazette regarding TigerEvents, my.dsu.ca and Dal-ACM related items. The original plan, at least to my understanding, was that there would be a small blurb this week, with a larger article in the new year. I was not, however, expecting the article that actually was produced. Unfortunatly, I have to agree with several individuals that felt that it was poorly written and misleading. I don’t have any explanations, but thought that I would try to rewrite things so that they were clearer.
Local Studentsâ€™ Software More Popular Than Expected
The â€œextracurricular hobbyï¿½? of two of Dalhousie Universities’ Computer Science students, Sean Smith and Oliver Baltzer, has taken off on both Sourceforge and Rubyforge, which contain thousands of open source projects. TigerEvents, the software powering the my.dsu.ca website, has achived a small measure of success over the past three months since its public debut, being downloaded roughly 150 times, and being propelled into the top five percent of active projects on both sites.
â€œIt was a little unexpected,ï¿½? says undergrad student Sean Smith.
Smith and PhD candidate Oliver Baltzer released the program as open source software in September after spending the summer developing it with several other computer science students at the request of the DSU. However, after its public release, other users started looking at it for real world usage, including individuals as far away as the Netherlands.
Open source, for those who don’t know, is free software that can be downloaded not only for free use, but for modification as well. “Think of it as software made by the community for the community. It’s all about giving something back to the community,” explains Oliver Baltzer.
Baltzer and Smith say the feedback they receive from users also helps them improve the program. They expect the number of people downloading and using the program will increase over the next few months as they continue to make improvements. “We have a lot of ideas,” states Smith, “and if we are lucky, not only will we get people using the software, but actively helping with improvements as well.” They try to make new releases and updates to the program, as well as the my.dsu.ca site, every few weeks.
Smith and Baltzer are members of a society called the Dal-ACM, which is a student chapter of the worldwide Association for Computing Machinery. The Dal-ACM, in conjunction with the DSU, is currently discussing a number of online programs, including online society ratification, grants applications and an improved version of Tiger Books, the DSUâ€™s online textbook exchange.
All the software for those projects would be released as an open source software package called Tiger Suite, says Baltzer, which could be used by other universities for their own purposes.