Ruben Vermeersch of F-Spot recommends that free software projects develop a vision statement. We like this idea. This morning we put together this vision statement for our next major feature.
The OpenHatch training missions are a group of interactive web pages for learning skills you would use when contributing to free software, like using diff, patch, tar, version control, IRC, and so on. A training mission shuns “manuals” and long, boring blobs of text. Instead it says, “Here’s a short, concrete task to perform. Interact with this web-based robot here, and it will tell you if you succeeded.”
Some video games have a “training level” where you can get shot at without dying. Similarly, open source needs a training level where you can learn the skills you need without getting burned. That’s the idea of training missions. When you’re working with a web-based robot, you don’t have to bother a busy person to teach you a basic skill, and no one will know when you screw up.
We know that only a subset of open source skills can be taught with a interactive robot. Some skills are too complex, like being able to solve a bite-sized bug. You would have to perform a lot of sub-tasks to demonstrate your ability at that. Some skills are simply not verifiable by a robot, like creating code or design that is high-quality and achieves what you want. So we’re focusing on robot-verifiable tasks with a small number of steps.
Here’s the beta version of missions. (You have to log in, so you can track your progress.) Let us know what ya think!