(First appeared on Boundless Journey)
Somewhere around the mid of November 2013, I first read about Rails Girls (link here). This organization mainly works to encourage women and girls to become better programmers. There was a workshop happening in Munich, Germany around that time. Thinking that there would be sponsors, I applied. And yo, I got selected! It was then I learnt that Rails Girls workshops are individual local chapters, usually attended by people close to the area. I was a bit dejected that I could not make for it. Just then, one of the core organizers of Rails Girls, Sara, encouraged me to begin a Rails Girls Mumbai Chapter. She was a source of support and encouragement all through the workshop. I soon shifted my base and moved on to Kerala, to join the University I studied in (Read more here).
My college has a FOSS Club (link here), where students are encouraged to make contributions to open source, and essentially learn stuffs the fun way! One of my Professor, Vipin Sir, who heads the FOSS club, encouraged me to conduct the workshop for the students. Then began the journey of my first Rails Girls workshop.
I began hunting for coaches. I found just one, who had sound knowledge in RoR, and I had at least the basics. The road was set. There were 2 more (very dedicated, helpful and sincere) students, Anu and Archana, who co-organized this event. We met often after our work hours and brainstormed about the event. We were determined!
April 4th and 6th, 2014 – the days finalized for the event. We soon had our event page up, got the online registration form and the posters ready. The next day posters were put up, and we tried to spread maximum by word of mouth. On the 28th of March, we received our first registration. We were excited! Yipee!!! It’s happening, finally!!!
We received almost 60 registrations. However, we constrained to only girls and women, due to lack of space and sufficient coaches. We wanted every participant to get maximum attention and enjoy the workshop thoroughly.
4th April, 2014 – The first day of the workshop. We began at around 5.45pm. It started off with the lighting of lamp and a prayer. We then had Br. Biju Ji introducing the workshop to the participants. His speech was indeed enthralling! The girls were geared up!
Following it, we had an Introduction to Web Development. Since the participants were mostly ones who had very little/no programming knowledge, the basics were taught, touching only the cream of the web.
The students were then put in groups of 7, and they had to brainstorm among themselves and come up with a dream web application. They were given sketches and chart papers to illustrate their ideas. The students were very creative and energetic. We could see the spark of ideas already lighting up the evening! :)
We then had the Rails installation done, headed for dinner, and was done for the day!
6th April, 2014 - It was an early Sunday. Soon after breakfast, the seats started getting filled up.
We first had a a technical talk by Soumajit Pal, Research Associate at Amrita Center for Cyber Security. He spoke some interesting web practices and covered some core topics, viz MVC architecture, server client communication. He also spoke about his programming experiences. He then showed a demo of some cool stuffs that he was working on. The students were amazed and excited to begin their learning! We had some questions popping up, which Soumajit very gracefully answered.
Then was a small introduction to the Ruby language. We headed for a short break. Small talks, Pepsi and Miranda filled time and appetite ;)
Then was the TryRuby session. This was amazing! It was an interactive session. The participants were very curious and did not restrict themselves to only TryRuby. They went ahead, had some trial and errors in the irb terminal ! With lot of dicussions on why and how this and that happens, we ended our Ruby session. We quickly headed to the dining area, and was soon caught up relishing the some tasty delicacies.
Following lunch, was the Bento Box exercise. Want to know what’s a Bento Box?
It is a Japanese food tradition. It holds rice, fish or meat, and some rice and cooked vegetables, neatly packed in a box-shaped container called a ‘bento’. In our case, our bento consisted of some cool web technologies and the participants had to figure out where which technology fits in.
The participants were paired and were allowed to Google, in case they fell into some unknown web specie.
The winner team scored a whooping 9/10! Super exciting!
Then, we quickly began to build the rails application. We built the Idea Application given in the RG website. The Rails Girls Guides very neatly put the guidelines, which helped us all throughout. We began by explaining some core Rails concepts as and when we progressed with the application. Scaffolding, routes, CRUD, Convention over Configuration – we saw it all come alive while building the app. As quarter to 5 approached, we had a short tea break. Returning soon, we continued with the app coding.
Soon, we had the site up (on the local server) ! We wanted the participants to have their first Rails project with them, and on the web ;) . Since many were unfamiliar with the Git process, we quickly had a Git session, and soon their application was on cloud, and so were they! ;)
As the day ended, we had a cake party, and could see lots of happiness and joy in the faces! The girls walked back, with a sense of accomplishment! Yea, we did it!
Thanks Vipin Sir, Anu, Archana, Soumjit, Sara, Linda, FOSS, Rails Girls Team, Participants and all those who made this event a huge success!