Supporting the open source software development community isn’t only advantageous for OANDA in many respects but it is also the right thing to do. This is precisely why we recently contributed a piece of software to GitHub, a web-based hosting service for software development projects.
Historically, we have encouraged our developers to write reusable code, not only for internal purposes, but for sharing externally. As a leader of technological innovation, OANDA intends to be more visible in the open source realm in the future.
From a product perspective, we want developers to build products and features on top of our fxTrade platform. By contributing open source code, we hope other developers will use it to kick-start or add to their own projects.
Our developers occasionally use open source code contributions from non-OANDA API projects. We customize the code for our own purposes, often fixing bugs or adding value to it as part of that process. We then contribute that updated source code back to the community so others can benefit from it too. This is commonplace and it’s done out of goodwill. In general, by providing snippets of reusable code to the open source community, OANDA is helping to foster software development best practices worldwide.
One of the four co-op students we have working with us presently on OANDA’s mobile software development team, Johnny Li, coded what’s known as a general purpose carousel for an iOS-based mobile app. Any mobile app developer can take that code and drop it into an iOS mobile app project that they may be developing. They can subsequently add whatever images they wish.
What does that mean? Think about Dropbox. When you open Dropbox for the first time and before you’re taken directly to the app, you will view an introductory screen of images that you must swipe through that demonstrate to the end user how to use the app. That feature is known as a “general purpose carousel” and that’s what we contributed to the open source community.
Meanwhile, this effort also speaks to OANDA’s ongoing software development processes as we help aspiring developers grow their careers through co-op student internships. Not only do we wish to help them hone their coding skills but to also teach them to write software that can be reused by other developers.
I’ve worked with and spoken to a lot of students that have done their co-op placements at OANDA. These students consistently rate their experiences working here as “excellent” and they regularly give us high marks for providing a modern, enriching learning environment. It is a serious point of pride for all of us at OANDA to be regarded so highly by future generations of software developers.
And word gets around. Much like contributing useful software code to the open source community, our efforts to provide future mobile and/or software developers with positive, memorable, real-world experiences is well-known. In fact, this past semester we had about 200 applicants for the four available co-op spots on OANDA’s mobile team. For the upcoming co-op term that begins in early 2013, we have 254 applications to the mobile team from a pool of approximately 518 student applicants.
Plans abound to submit more free software code to the open source community in the near future and for members of our developer teams to participate in public hackathons in Toronto and elsewhere.
We hope to meet you at one of these events. Get in touch if you’d like more information about our open source code contributions or the hackathons we’ll be attending. Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.