SOCIS 2012 with Agora Octave

« Back to writing :: August 3, 2012 :: Categories: octave, django

SOCIS 2012 with Agora Octave

This summer, I’ll be working with Octave as part of the European Space Agency’s Summer of Code in Space 2012. My focus will be on completing Agora Octave, which is a code submission and collaboration website for Octave-related projects built using the Django web framework.

I’m very excited about the opportunity to work on Agora Octave. I love building websites, especially with Django, and this will be a fun project for me that hopefully will also be of benefit to the Octave community. I’ve identified the major components that I will be working on this summer, and have sketched out a rough timeline of when I expect to complete the various steps, which you can find below.

Project components

Mercurial integration

When uploading a bundle of code, a user should have the option to either create an associated hg repository or import an existing one. I’ve never worked with Mercurial before, so I will have to spend some time familiarising myself with it and determining the best way to integrate it with Django.

User authentication system

A user authentication system is required to ensure that only registered users contribute code, comments, and rankings. This can be done by making use of the built-in auth module in Django as well as the django-registration module. Much of this component has already been done.

Bundle upload and code highlighting

This would be the main feature in Agora. Users should be able to share their code (either as a snippet, or as a bundle) under a particular license, with syntax highlighting done using Pygments. Parts of this component have already been completed.

Comment system

A comment system is needed to allow authenticated users to post comments on bundles and code snippets. This will be accomplished using the django-threadedcomments module.

User interface

I plan to develop a clean, consistent, and usable user interface for the website. I will be using LESS for the stylesheets (with server-side compilation) and will create any necessary graphics using Inkscape.

Unit tests

Since there are some features with potentially complicated interactions, I will make sure that any code whose validity isn’t readily apparent is thoroughly tested. If the need arises, I will also use the continuous integration system Travis, in order to ensure that tests are always run.


I will endeavour to keep my code as well-documented as possible without going overboard, in the form of inline comments, docstrings, notes in the README, and external documentation if need be.


Progress updates, code snapshots, and a mirror

I plan to write a new blog post every Friday with a brief summary of my progress so far. Although I’ll be committing my code primarily to a Mercurial repository, I will also mirror the repository on Github because I like Github’s user interface and the tools it provides.

I plan to develop locally, but will make my changes publicly available at

About me

I’m an undergraduate student going into my third year towards a Bachelor of Science in Math and Computer Science at McGill University, in Canada. I first started using (and fell in love with) Django last summer, and have been creating and designing websites for about 8 years (of progressively better quality). I’ve been involved in open source since I joined the phpBB team in 2007, initially as a moderator, and now as part of the website team as well. I love web design and development, and am currently working part-time for a music technology lab at McGill in which I write software and design interfaces.

You can find out more about my projects at

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