Telescope: if you bite off more than you can chew, share it with the dogs (🐶🥫)

For the past several months, I have helped progress the development of Telescope, Seneca College’s new open source blog feed aggregator. Until now, my contributions have mainly been things I could (and did) do alone: fixing small bugs and implementing minor feature requests.

Two weeks ago, I set two new goals for myself: to take on larger issues facing Telescope, and to collaborate more closely with my fellow Telescope contributors on such issues.

What I bit off (🥫🥫🥫🥫🥫)

I had originally planned to take on and resolve three issues by this time—each at least as large as any issue I had previously taken on:

  • Issue #595: Write Jest tests for src/backend/web/routes/opml.js
  • Issue #294: Keep feeds in Redis synchronized with wiki over time
  • Issue #624: Deal with 429 responses from, and other feeds

It’s perhaps also worth mentioning two issues that I intended to work on but that ended up being inadvertently resolved before I had a chance to: #562 (which I ended up resolving in my PR #550) and #608 (which @humphd ended up resolving in his PR #618).

What I managed to chew (🥫)

My previous work for Telescope involved completing the implementation of Telescope’s API endpoint (currently /feed/opml) that shares its aggregated feeds as an OPML file (PR #394).

However, at that time, no tests had been written for that endpoint. As I had prior experience writing tests for the first iteration of Telescope’s inactive blog filter, I felt quite confident and well-equipped to tackle this issue (#595) on my own. So, I did so, resolving it with a PR (#644).

What I could not chew (🥫🥫🥫🥫)

Issues #294 and #624 are decidedly outside of my current zone of comfort and experience (e.g. with Redis)—ideal for collaborating on with other Telescope developers. Unfortunately, I was not able to address either issue fully in the time I had.

Over the next two weeks, I plan to prioritize these two outstanding issues, and to put our Slack channel to good use in order to communicate and collaborate on each issue.

What I chewed instead (🥫🥫🥫)

During our latest sprint, I wanted to contribute more than a Jest test file for the OPML endpoint, so I piled on a larger (but manageable) issue into my food bowl:

Issue #638: Add tests for /feed/* routes

This issue was a logical extension of the work I had just completed, but on a larger scale: I was to write Jest test cases for not one additional backend route but four!

How (not) to yelp for help 🐶

I had relatively little difficulty writing the tests for our RSS, ATOM and JSON feed endpoints. However, that changed when I attempted to test the structure of the data output by our /feed/wiki endpoint: my test seemed simply unable to fetch the data (whereas I had no issues doing so using our live URL)!

I was simply stumped by this issue, and assumed some complex underlying issue, so I decided to package a plea for assistance into the slides I prepared for our weekly progress report, hoping to solicit assistance as a part of my presentation. However, the feedback I received then made me realize that I should have simply brought up the issue in Slack, and it would have been resolved in minutes!

Sure enough, shortly after I brought up the issue in Slack, I received the help I needed. I was then able to complete the structural testing for our /feed/wiki endpoint and open a pull request for all of the aforementioned work (PR #670).

From now on, I really do plan to make much better use of our communication tools, including Slack, to seek out help when I need it!

Lending a paw 🐶

Over the last two weeks, despite my admitted shortcomings in asking for help, I have still definitely progressed with my goal of upping my collaborative efforts, mainly by reaching out to others who need help (and, in turn, being reached out to!)

During the final hours of our last sprint, I took it onto myself to review our Gatsby frontend’s login functionality. This was my first time building and interacting with our new Gatby frontend, and I naturally ran into quite a bit of Gatby-related issues that I finally resolved thanks the help of the PR’s author, @Grommers00 (who also kindly sat down with me earlier to seek help reviewing my PR #644).

Furthermore, in the process of completing the review of the login code, I wrestled quite a bit with terminating a rogue Redis instance (which I later learned was running as a service on my VM; thank you to @manekenpix for walking me through the troubleshooting process for this)!

When last Monday’s triage meeting found itself short a leader, I volunteered to facilitate it, and continued to do so even after that leader arrived. I enjoyed that experience a lot more than I thought I would, and look forward to leading this next triage meeting, as well, alongside the aforementioned leader who subsequently volunteered to help me out to return the favor.

What’s cooking now? 🥘

During our current sprint, I plan to continue to take on larger issues; to collaborate more efficiently; to continue to take Telescope a little bit closer towards that highly-appetizing Release 1.0!

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