Hello Everyone! This year's GSoC is coming to its end. Therefore I think that I should let you know what's been done since my last blog post. I would also like to evaluate the progress I managed to make and the goals set up at the beginning of this project.
As I told you in my last post, my main goal, in this last period, was to clean up, properly document, refactor, optimise the code and make it easier to read, so it would be fit to be brought to the master branch and to be used by the community.
My next proposition was to search for bugs and fix them, in order to make the implemented features more or less flawless. I can happily state, that I succeeded in this.
As proposed, I implemented a unit test for the main dataset related features. This proved to be useful since it helped discover some hidden problems which were all corrected. The main features, that tests were developed for, are:
- processing the metadata files in order to list the available collections, categories, subcategories and datasets
- downloading and processing of datasets based on the information stored in the metadata files
- adding new datasets to the already existent ones (by creating new collections, categories and subcategories)
I managed to create some "real" example projects so the users can explore the possibilities provided by LabPlot. These include the already existing ones (3 by count) and I added some dataset related ones. I also proceeded with the collecting of datasets. I managed to double the previous amount. Now we have 2000 datasets categorized, which is already a considerable amount.
As I said, the main priority was to improve and correct the code and not to develop major new features. However, some minor new ideas were still implemented. The first step was to improve the downloading and naming of the datasets. I also developed some caching mechanism for the downloaded files. When downloading a file, if an earlier copy is available it needs to be checked whether or not it was created earlier than 1 day. If it was, then the file needs to be deleted in order to proceed with the downloading, otherwise the downloading isn't necessary.
Another, more observable, feature is that the users can now easily display the full name and the description of the selected dataset, so they may be able to retrieve additional information before choosing a dataset to work with. Previously the users could also see the short name of the dataset which wasn't really practical since it didn't really offer much information about the dataset itself. I also added a counter to every collection, category and subcategory so now the users can see how many datasets belong to the previously listed units of categorization. I thought it might be useful. The following demo video will present these new features in use:
Show Details functionality of ImportDatasetWidget
I also created a backup functionality for ImportDatasetWidget. When the users press the "Refresh" button the metadata files "shipped with LabPlot" are copied to the "dataset folder", and the files which were previously there are kept as a backup. This was needed because by pressing refresh any newly added dataset disappears. This can be very unpleasant if done unintentionally, I speak out of experience. So by pressing the "Restore" button the effect of the "Refresh" button can be undone, meaning that the current metadata files are deleted, the backup files are restored and the widget is updated accordingly. The following video illustrates this functionality:
Restore backup functionality of ImportDatasetWidget
As I've already presented you the improvements and new features, I think it's high time I present to you an overall image of what has been accomplished during this summer's GSoC. I will present the new features in two groups: dataset related and welcome screen related. I will provide a demo video for each of them.
I'd like to start with the welcome screen since that will be the first thing people will see when they start using LabPlot. I think that the welcome screen turned out to be quite good looking, clean and simple (in the best possible meaning). It is quite responsive and by allowing the users to resize the different sections, it is customisable to a degree. I think it provides a great deal of functionality that can be useful for the great majority of the users, and it also helps in the process of getting to know LabPlot. In the next demo video I will present every aspect of LabPlot's welcome screen:
LabPlot's welcome screen
The other main part of the project was to implement functionality to import online datasets. This could be useful for those who like working with data or in the field of statistics. These datasets can be visualized by creating different plots: curves and histograms. This way LabPlot may be used for educational purposes as well. LabPlot comes with a great number of datasets which may be expanded individually by adding own datasets. I really hope that the users will find this new functionality useful and practical. Here is a video that demonstrates adding a new dataset and creating some plots based on it:
LabPlot's Dataset Functionality
And finally here comes the evaluation/summary. I truly think that every feature presented in my proposal is implemented and working. So I think the main aim is met: LabPlot now has full support for downloading and processing online datasets and has a gorgeous welcome screen. There were difficulties along the way, but with work, and help from my mentors, everything was dealt with. As I said everything works, but some unforeseen bugs or errors might appear in the future. Some steps for the future may be to improve the overall performance of the new features and improving the overall look of the welcome screen.
Working on this project for the last 3 months has been a great experience, and I can honestly say that I improved my coding skills and way of thinking in a way I haven't even dreamt for. I also improved my ability to work alone and solve problems on my own. I'm more than grateful to my mentor, Kristóf, who always helped me and had my back if I encountered any hardship. I'd also like to express my gratitude towards Alexander Semke, my mentor's former mentor and an invaluable member of the LabPlot team, who also helped me a great deal. I am determined to further improve the features, even after GSoC ended. I would be more than happy to stay in this amazing team and help them whenever they need me. It's my goal to work, in the future, on LabPlot with them, since I really liked being part of this team. I truly think that people should contribute more to the open-source community, and the end of GSoC shouldn't mean the end of the involvement as well.
This is it, guys. Thank you for reading the post, and thank you for your interest in my project. If there's any development regarding my project or a new task (in the future) I'll let you know here. Bye :)