Hello from Team XYZ

Posted on by Veronika and Daria

Categories: blog and student posts

Who are we?

We are Daria and Veronika, from Prague, Czech Republic, and together we form Team XYZ.

We met at the Prague Women in Tech meetup in July 2015. Daria was already part of the group since it started, and Veronika had just returned to Prague after living abroad for three years, and she was looking for a support study group to continue her learning. Eventually, we both became involved in organizing meetups and coding sessions, and we decided to apply for Rails Girls Summer of Code together.

Why XYZ? Well, we put that name into our application as a placeholder, and we thought we would come up with something a little catchier later on. But we got used to it and we kind of grew to like this name, so we decided to keep it.

We are working on KeystoneJS, an exciting open source framework for developing websites, applications and APIs. Our project is mainly built using JavaScript based technologies - Node.js, Express.js, ReactJS and MongoDB.

We, students, get immense support from our coaches Jano and Josef, for which we are eternally and endlessly grateful. Our mentor Max, one of KeystoneJS core contributors, patiently answers all our questions and provides valuable feedback. We are supported and supervised by last year’s RGSoC participant Sofia from sunny Sofia, Bulgaria.

This is our team:


(Images in this collage were provided by the respective team members)

Daria’s journey to software development started with working as content-manager or simply copy-paster of content into CMS and e-shops. She realized she actually wants to learn the “behind-the-scenes” technology, so she started with creating simple HTML/CSS webpages then continued into modifying WordPress themes, and in the end got her first job as WordPress developer for a small marketing agency. Since smaller scale web development doesn’t necessarily mean actual programming, she kept postponing learning any language seriously and concentrated on learning tools instead. After landing accidently on a big project as frontend developer, she had to quickly get the basics of modern frontend tooling and realized how badly she lacked decent Javascript (or any other language) knowledge. She is really grateful to RGSoC and Keystone for such amazing opportunity to work on dynamically developing open-source project and learn a lot about react, node.js, mongodb, git and many other exciting technologies.

Veronika comes from Moravia, specifically the Zlín region, which is a part of Czech Republic right next to the border with Slovakia. Her background is in traditional linguistics - she studied English and Italian Linguistics and Literature. She became interested in programming and related technical disciplines at the time when she was working in customer service and wanted something new and exciting to learn. JavaScript and Python seemed very well suited for a novice learner, so at first, she was browsing tutorials and online courses - it became her hobby to solve simple programming puzzles, just like other people like to do sudoku or crossword puzzles in their free time. She was hooked, and later on she decided to take this hobby to the next level and started attending various workshops and intensive courses, which eventually lead to the decision to take a plunge, enroll into Summer of Code and get involved full-time in a real project.

Here we are at work, apparently very busy and focusing on something important:


(Picture by Fred)

What we have achieved so far

  • Became better at JavaScript (crossing fingers)
  • Built password complexity API and min/max options for text field
  • Implemented smooth scrolling in the admin UI
  • Reviewed existing docs and moved them to KeystoneJS repo
  • Learnt git magic: fetch, merge, stash, rebase, pull requests, solving merge conflicts
  • Used npm for package management and running local environment for Node.js
  • Wrote our own unit tests
  • Learnt basics of deployment to Heroku
  • Built blog with KeystoneJS
  • Tried out ReactJS
  • Learnt many other small things (jade, markdown, basics of jsx…)
  • Tried out working in a coworking space

This is the view from our office:

Office view

(Photo by Veronika)

Tips we would like to share

  • Don’t get discouraged by difficulties! Programming is not easy, it is actually very challenging, and that’s what is so exciting about learning it. In fact, pick difficult tasks! It will push you further.
  • Community is important! Get adopted by your programming family and you will get endless support in hard moments.
  • Take regular breaks! Refresh and gather new energy in your free time. It is important to relax.
  • Take care of yourself! It is easy to get lost in time while you’re fully immersed into coding. Keep yourself hydrated and don’t forget to eat your lunch :)
  • Strengthen your theoretical knowledge as well! Nurture your curiosity to find out how things work behind the outer layer.

Our next steps within the project

  • Make own Twitter field for Keystone
  • Build a visualization of available lists in Keystone’s Admin UI
  • Submit a “How to build a blog with Keystone” article for Keystone documentation
  • Learn more about React
  • Become fluent in JavaScript (one can only hope)