AUGUST 02, 2022

My IndiaFOSS experience

By Mohd Shamoon


I am a big fan of conferences as I always get to know a lot of new things which I wouldn’t have thought or heard otherwise. I have gone through most of the videos of past Javascript conferences and that really helped me to understand some core principles and thoughts around it.

Recently I attended the IndiaFOSS conference in person where we represented Glific. This was the second IndiaFOSS conference and as the name suggests it was around free and open source softwares that people can use and build over.

Entrance of NIMHANS convention center

We reached Bangalore around 6 in the evening where we met Vivek from Thoughtworks at the hotel. He was a volunteer in the conference and shared that he has heard of Glific and wanted to know more about it in the talk next day. It was really exciting for us to talk about something that we were building from the past two years.

I was really excited for the conference the next day.

Glific showcased by Pankaj


Sharing this for the organizers that the food was really great throughout the conference and especially the Idli in the morning, that was the best Idli I ever had. Usually we don’t get Idli like this in the north (okay enough about food for now).

The Audi dilemma

One thing that really bugged me was that the talks were in two different audis (which means I had to choose which talk interests me most). Sometimes both of the talks were really interesting. Eventually we had to choose one over the other.

There were wide variety of talks and sharing the ones that I found most interesting:

1. Use of GIS for Planning Rs 80,000 Cr of Rural Road Investments

In this talk Harsh shared about how he used the open street data, QGIS and other open source libraries to help government plan out upgrading roads in rural India. We are also working on with Reap benefit to plot civic data into maps so this captured our attention as to the tools and data they were using.

2. Democratising Open (Geo)Data for Open Innovation and Solutioning

Arjun shared about the importance of open data and how it can help the government in planning better for citizens. They shared the work they did with Kerala government for various routes taken by buses and shared that data on a public repository.

3. Self Hosting with Nomad

Karan shared that data is insecure on the major cloud providers and for simple personal things to store we can easily use self hosting to overcome these issues.

4. The designer-contributor dilemma with FOSS
Krutika shared that it is really difficult for designers to contribute to open source since most of them are not aware of how design can help an open source project.

Apart from this there were project showcases and following are the ones that caught my eye and would love to try these, and see if they can be utilized in other places that I work:

1. Blaze (a peer to peer file sharing across internet)
2. Karate (a test runner)
3. Frappe (low code web framework)
4. ReactPlay (learn react the fun way)
5. Appsmith (low code app builder)

My thoughts on what we can do better as a community

1. We should think about how designers can also contribute to the open source community. As shared by Krutika we can propose a convention for designers on github to look for open source projects using the label contrib-design

2. Social sector organizations should be made more aware about these open source tools and technologies to scale their operations. Tech4dev is already on track for doing this.

3. While wrapping up the conference we touched upon the topic of Women in tech and it led to a good discussion where everyone brainstormed how we can encourage women in the tech sector. This aligns very well with the mission that Tech4dev is working on for Women in Tech with Hyperverge Academy and ColoredCow. Tejas (Reapbenefit) suggested that we should invite these Women In Tech interns to attend such conferences to get more exposure.

4. Collaboration is another part of open source community and conferences like these helps in better collaboration to know and learn from each others work.

Breaks in between talks
Lunch and tea breaks were kept perfectly for people to just talk and get to know each other. The best thing about conferences that I like is that the people are so humble and eager to share no matter if you are the CEO of a big company or an intern at a small startup, they ask and share with genuine curiosity.

At the end of the conference we also came to know that it was all volunteer driven and volunteers from organizations like Zerodha, Frappe, Thoughtworks helped in setting up the whole thing from website to the settings up timelines and stuff.

I also got a chance to share how Glific is helping the social sector organizations and making an impact through a small interview.

Sharing how Glific helps social sector organizations

Outside conference

After the end of the first day Gautam and Tejas (from ReapBenefit) took us for a Bangalore tour. Since meeting GP in the Tehri Sprint and Tejas in Pune sprint I had always wanted to see the ReapBenefit office and meet the whole team. Because these two people go above and beyond for the work they are doing. They believe in the purpose and work on it to the level that some may find even crazy.

I was really eager to see where and how they work. Gautam took us to the Reap benefit office and showed us where each of them works and how they cannot work if even four of them sits together in the same room because they end up discussing so much. So they have a separate thinking room. 

Outside Reapbenefit office
Inside Reapbenefit office

We went to a fastfood corner next where we had different types of Puri’s and a twister at the end. We went for coffee next and finally to Bob’s  Bar where we met other members of the Reap benefit team. Everyone was really fun and welcoming.

Next day we were thinking of going to places like MTR or Vidyarthi Bhavan but we were suggested a better place than this for south indian breakfast. It was Taaza thindi and it was really really awesome. I have always been a fan of south indian food and didn’t want to leave Bangalore after seeing the possibility of eating the food everyday.

At night we just explored nearby areas and got the famous Mysore Pak back for our homes.

Overall it was and amazing and relaxing journey with lots to learn and lots to share. Will encourage every one to attend one of the conferences. It helps you to meet a lot of like minded people and sharing and collaborating on what you already build.

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