The thinking behind the Training Missions

by Raphael July 2nd, 2010

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!


  1. Rudolf Olah says:

    That makes a lot of sense. I know that I learned a lot by following the interactive Emacs tutorial.

  2. IFeelCool says:

    This is great. But I am stuck on one of the mission, who can I ask help from?

  3. Sibi says:

    Great work. It helped me learn the basic skills easily. I can now myself look out for the more advanced features. Thanks for the great work done by you people.

  4. Abdulhafiz says:

    I love it

  5. Piyush says:

    Osum! Work Helped me a lot!! Thanks

  6. Maksim says:

    This is really helping me a lot already. Thanks.

  7. I am sure glad I found It has been my desire for a while now to be part of an open source project. The training missions give me platform on which to launch out. Great work!

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