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Sprinting at EuroPython 2014

europython team hard at workA phenomenal two days of sprinting just wrapped up two back-to-back conferences in Berlin.
On July 15 – 17, the Open Contracting team participated in the Open Knowledge Festival. We presented our latest work, got feedback from the community, gained experience, knowledge and insight from an incredible range of people working on Open Data around the world.

As a happy co-incidence OKFest was followed by the annual European Python conference, EuroPython. In April, Open Contracting participated in the North American Python Conference, PyCon. We participated in the 4-day sprint and were delighted to have 14 volunteers from the conference stay on for 4 days to work on Open Contracting (more here).

So, with EuroPython right next to Open Knowledge Festival, I stayed on in Berlin to run a sprint with the Europython community. The EuroPython sprints were the weekend of July 26 & 27. We had an incredible weekend with 9 volunteers, building a pipeline of tools to help Open Contracting.

Our Open Contracting crew was (from left to right in the photo) was:europython team photo

Some quick background. Last month, the Open Contracting Data Standard team released our Draft Data Model for consultation. We received feedback on-line and through conversations and our workshop at the Open Knowledge Festival. Since then, I started drafting a first cut of a serialization – specifying fields that might be in the standard. I chose to use JSON Schema, not because that is a final decision of the Open Contracting Data Standard team, but it was a good tool to get started in. So going into the sprints we had a partial JSON Schema to work with.

The sprint work split into little chunks that all fed into one another, plus some little extras.

It was amazing to see the whole pipeline come together over a weekend. But wait! That wasn’t all!

The sprinting team went out for a taste of Berlin’s famous beer gardens on Saturday night and Joren’s wife joined us. By the end of the evening, we’d persuaded her to come sprint with us the next day and Beatrice joined us and got her first taste of django adding some much needed tests to our standard-collaborator tool.

And finally, following on from our work in Montreal, there is an interesting challenge in being able to compare on what categories contracts were issued over datasets. For example, how much was spent on Construction in Canada compared to the UK. The challenge is that different countries use different systems to classify goods and services, so a similar item maybe classified as C123 in one place and 07435 somewhere else, and also labeled with a similar, but not the same title. Danny and Josip investigated how we could build a hierarchy of meaning from existing classification systems as a first step to understanding if we could automate some basic matching between classification systems.

And, on top of all of that, I think we all had fun. I know I did. My thanks again to the wonderful Open Contracting EuroPython team and to EuroPython for hosting sprints (we were all well-fed and watered with a never ending supply of Club Mate – the German programmer’s drink of choice).