A New Year, a New Dev Update

Lots of members of the Open Farm team have been very busy over the past few months, but we’ve still consistently found time to contribute to the platform.

Just a reminder, if you’re interested in joining in the efforts, talk to us on Slack or poke around the code and software on GitHub.

And now, on to what we’ve been working on!

Vagrant

The most important thing we’ve been working on is getting OpenFarm running on a Vagrant virtual machine. What this means is pretty simple, getting it set up right turned out not to be.

Why are we doing this? When you’re working on a  team (like the people working on OpenFarm are) that brings their own computers and are spread all over the world, one of the problems you will face is that not everyone’s computer runs the same software in the same way. A Windows computer is quite different from a Mac, which is again different from a Linux computer. To make it worse, a Windows 7 computer is different from a Windows 8 computer. And a Windows 7 Dell computer is still different from a Windows 7 HP computer. The software you install on one computer will run differently on other computers. This makes installing a complicated program like OpenFarm a bit of a pain if you want to work on the underlying code. In our Slack conversations it’s the one thing that turns keen volunteers away from working on OpenFarm.

So, what do you do? You work with this wonderful piece of software called Vagrant. Vagrant works together with Virtual Box to create a “virtual” computer that runs on your computer. This way, you can guarantee that all of the environments that all of your programmers are working in are the same. For newcomers eager to help out, the barrier of entry will become a lot lower too: they just have to install Vagrant and Virtual Box – software that works well on a lot of systems – download the OpenFarm code, and then just run one command on your command line.

So we’ve spent a couple of days trying to get a Vagrant installation up and running. We’ve tested it on a couple of systems, but still need to test it on a few more to make sure that it’s foolproof. If you’re interested in helping us out with this, get in touch!

Guides

Creating guides has been a bit of a pain point for a while. The process was overly complex and half of the things didn’t even save! We’ve been working on making the software that does all of this more transparent to us (which makes it easier to work with) and to you. We are redesigning the guide creation flow, but also by breaking out the guide creation and editing views. Our editing is more limited than it used to be but while we build out the editing functionality, you won’t lose information you’ve already added in the past.

We’d love it if you gave it a go.

Looking for an example guide? Check out this Passion Fruit guide from our founder, Rory.

Crops

We’ve started a discussion about externalizing the crops that we use within openfarm – to simplify the guide creation project (what we see as being the core functionality of openfarm). That conversation is taking place in the crops issues, and we’d love to hear your thoughts. We’ve also had some wonderful designers designing beautiful crop icons to use in OpenFarm, FarmBot, Hortomatic, and FarmOS. Have a look at those icons being developed in the open-crop-icons repository.

We’re going to plug away at the above things. We’ll make an announcement when Vagrant is working, and when we have some beautiful guides to showcase. If you’ve been saving up a how-to on growing a certain plant – passion fruit? orange? dragon fruit? – with some cool tips – on a balcony? hydroponically? on stilts? in a pyramid? – let us know! We’d love to accomadate and test the process of adding the guide with you.

Leave a comment below, talk to us on Slack, or poke around the code and software on GitHub.

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