CodeCamps are, as the name suggests, camps for coding. Instead of going into the woods, “camp” here refers to gathering the participants together and having them spend a period of time tightly together, helping out each other and being there. “Code” here refers to coding, writing programs, programming. The idea about CodeCamps is to have an intensive, small group hackathon-kind of event of about one week in length, where the students come together to write programs, to learn about new technologies by using them in a project, and getting to know each other and what different sorts of skill sets do the other friendly faces hide in the brains behind them. The courses were scheduled so that the students would not have responsibilities in regard to other courses, and would have a lot of time to concentrate on the camp. During the course of the EASI-CLOUDS project, so far two code camps have taken place.
The first camp was organized in December 2012 by University of Tampere and was about collaborative software development and RESTful interfaces. The students used an experimental collaborative programming tool called CoRED. It allows the group to edit a common code base in a way that they see each others’ changes in real time, instead of the traditional way of working through a revision control system. In short, CoRED aims to be an equivalent of Google Docs, but for code.
The students formed small groups and their goal was to develop simple applications for the Vaadin web-framework. The developed applications would pull data from other cloud services using their public APIs and do nice things with it. One example of the produced student works is Tweetmeme, an application that generates funny internet meme-pictures. It synthesizes them from tweets, that are acquired through Twitter‘s public API, parsed and then pushed through the API of Meme Generator, which embeds them into pictures.
The second camp was about cloud technologies and Windows Azure. The camp was organized in March 2013 by University of Helsinki in co-operation with Innofactor. In this camp, the small student groups were given free student accounts to Windows Azure, thought a little bit of the basics, and let them hack away. Their goal was to design and produce small applications that would be deployed on Azure. The difficulty in this was that cloud software development is not yet very prominent in todays curriculum; most of the students were very new to the subject. Nevertheless a total of 13 groups completed their assignment.
From an academic point of view, CodeCamps provide interesting projects, that teach cloud computing knowledge and skills. Students gain experience on presenting their products as they participate in the demo sessions. CodeCamps make it easier for students to form networks, find talented friends and lower the barrier to set up their own start-ups. Students also have the opportunity to bond with professionals, as CodeCamps have industrial partners involved.
The concept of CodeCamps has worked for us fairly well, and plans are being made for yet another one. This time we plan on getting other universities to work with us and hold the camp in multiple countries simultaneously. We also are planning to include technology developed in EASI-CLOUDS in the camp in a yet undetermined way.