Open Toolchain Hackathon

Published on May 01, 2023 by Isa, Pieter on News, Hackathon

Open Toolchain Hackathon
Boosting the Open Source Toolchain of the Nimble as a community.

The first hackathon organised by the Open Toolchain Foundation took place at 6 and 7 March at the Fab City House in Hamburg. Around 40 people from diverse backgrounds came together with the shared interest to invest their energy into contributing to open toolchains and the Open Source Ecosystem. More specifically at this hackathon, they were eager to support the open toolchain of the Nimble — an open source project with hard and software components that allows remote communities to install and run their own local internet systems and thus distribute access to knowledge and digital tools.

The Nimble at the Hackathon

With its potential to empower more and more communities in the global south and elsewhere, the Nimble gave the hackathon participants an inspiring use case for improving an open tool chain and finding new connections to projects and contributors. Other open source projects with related products and services were invited and connected by the organising team.

For an impression watch this video:

The goals of the Hackathon were:

  • To demonstrate how an open source documentation workflow can be implemented (complete open toolchain for the Nimble).
  • To gather ideas and specific approaches on how the open toolchain can be improved.
  • To form alliances and partner up with other projects to further extend the open toolchain(s).

The first part of the hackathon was dedicated to collectively set up a productive Hacking Environment, to get to know each other and to turn the Fab City House into a creative hub with small teams working on an array of hacking units. After the welcome and a social warm up, we gathered in the main hacking space to learn about the challenges and projects and to define potential hacking units to be worked on.

The Nimble Project was represented by its founder Eric Nitschke who talked about the organisation’s needs and wishes for becoming a fully open licensed project. Other projects like LibreSolar, Freifunk, Makerstick and UniProKit shared ideas on how they could imagine to support and be supported by the Nimble. Based on this, the individuals in the group suggested the work packages to be tackled that we refer to as Hacking Units.

About 12 Hacking Units with a wide range of topics such as Hardware Development for the Nimble, Software Development for the Nimble, Documentation/Collaboration Setup, Open Toolchain Development, and OTFN Ecosystem and Education, were collected and clustered on a wall. From here small teams formed and started to work on the first batch of units. Teams set up their spaces for teamwork and their activities like writing code, experimenting and building with hardware parts, brainstorming, planning drawing and discussing.

The Hacking Units

The Fab City House was a perfect location to allow teams to spread over several rooms. The Fab Corner was ready to be taken over with its 3D printers and hardware tools. The lounge and the kitchen always offered great opportunities for chats over snacks and really good coffee and a silent room was very appreciated for focus and recovering. The atmosphere was productive and loaded with a good chilled vibe. Hacking could have easily gone on for longer.

Documentation was playing an important role on the second day. All Hacking Units were advised to collect and document their work in a digital Hacking Unit Template. At the final presentation 12 units proudly presented their work of the last 24 hours. We saw and heard stories behind prototypes, sketches, new research insights from user testing, the new open license for the Nimble, and potential business models and future activities of the Open Toolchain Foundation. Other Hacking Units and their documentation ranged from setting up repositories, to energy-grids for the Nimble, a parametric enclosure workflow, Open Educational Resources & Learning Management Systems, Business Model exploration, Compliance (certification, liability, etc.), Uni-Pro Kit, FreeCAD UI Improvement, FreeCAD documentation, Tool/Addon/setting collection for the Makerstick platform, to further activities for Open Toolchain Foundation and its vision. Please find here the summary report of the Hackathon.

Below some photos of the event (CC-BY 4.0 Dawid Jakubowski):

The Hackathon was part of the EU-EFRE funded project INTERFACER. For more info, see this post.

Attending Partners

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