I'm Alisha Kamat, a second year computer science undergraduate student based in Mumbai, India. When I'm not coding, you'll find me trying out new recipes, painting, reading or travelling.
In my quest to identify productive ways of utilising my summer vacation, I was exploring the internet, scouting for options I could take up - when I came across Joomla’s project for Google Summer of Code. From my research, I found that this was one of the most prestigious ways to learn and grow in my second year of engineering and it was also highly competitive. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the trouble applying, considering the phenomenal number and quality of applications which Joomla receives via GSoC.
Just to give you an indication of the level of rigour involved in the GSoC process, the first step would be to identify a project and create a detailed proposal. Working on this is an independent project in itself, requiring hours of research and planning. So even if you don’t get the opportunity to work on the actual project, this would be quite an experience.
Though GSoC allows submitting proposals to multiple organisations (and many do it as a backup strategy), this was the only project I had applied to.
Interestingly I got shortlisted after the application process and that’s how I got started on this project.
A Little Background
My journey into open source dates back to last year when I first heard about HacktoberFest.
After reading up about it, I was fascinated by the concept of open source. I couldn’t wait to start contributing to the fest and being a part of it. That’s how my journey into open source started.
Before you contribute to any open source project, you need to perform the challenging task of trying to understand the other person’s codebase (which may not always be easy).
Entering the world of open source is like drinking from a fire hose. You can end up being overwhelmed by it if you’re just starting off. Over time, as you get a little more familiar with the codebase you are contributing to, you won’t find it as tricky as before.
My open source journey with Joomla felt quite the same during the initial weeks of getting started, because of Joomla’s massive codebase.
But my mentors made this task comparatively easier for me.
My Project - SEO
This summer, I’ll be working under Joomla on the project – ‘SEO’.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s the secret sauce to helping your website rank on search engines while simultaneously improving its overall organic traffic (both quantity as well as quality). This in turn helps attract potential customers to your website and business.
Among the top SEO factors affecting page performance is relevance and readability. While old-school techniques (such as keyword stuffing) are no longer effective, search engines still rely on the content to figure out what the page is all about. The other aspect is how much time readers spend on the page. If we can assist the content creator with simple but helpful tools, their output can be more aligned with what search engines look for in good, well-optimised articles.
My role is to ensure that Joomla sites make it to the top of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
There are 2 types of SEO that can be done for a page.
- On-Page SEO refers to the SEO techniques that majorly include optimising parts of the website that are under your control
- Off-Page SEO, on the other hand, involves promoting your website all around the web.
SEO for Joomla
Joomla, an open-source CMS (Content Management System) used by millions across the world, supports a variety of users with differing needs. Its power lies in its flexibility. Site admins can turn on/off features based on their priorities. For some users, an SEO optimised site may mean everything, for others it may not. Regardless of the platform and technology used by websites, the basic principles of SEO remain the same.
Before commencing work, I created a workplan based on my suggestions in the proposal and also the additional features suggested by the mentors (which I plan to take up after the basic scope has been achieved).
My workplan includes contributing to Joomla in three key ways:
- Code – Contribute feature changes to Joomla’s upcoming 4.2 version
- Documentation – Apart from contributing to Joomla’s codebase, I’ll also be documenting important feature changes that I integrate into its core on Joomla’s docs and forums
- Blogs – Document my journey throughout my GSoC period and provide key updates on tasks completed and my workplan for the next couple of weeks.
Recently I gave my first presentation to my mentors based on the features I’d completed and the work done so far. I received very helpful feedback for the same and intend to use the feedback to polish and improve those features further in the coming weeks.
During GSoC, you have an amazing yet confusing choice to choose from a pool of 200 organisations. So if you’re struggling to pick one, I would recommend putting Joomla on your radar for the same reason that I did. It’ll give you phenomenal exposure to a platform that is used by millions of users across the world.
I’m excited to get started and pumped for the journey ahead!