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DPS 909 - Release 0.2 - Hacktoberfest Week 1

As mentioned in my last blog post, I am currently in the midst of participating in Hacktoberfest in order to deepen my understanding of open source. For my first week, I decided to start with a simple issue that I could confidently contribute to: the HackSta account's issue #12. This issue invites other Github users to contribute customized icons for the Atom text editor (a product of Github!). It was very easy to start - users simply have to fork the repo and contribute new designs for the Atom logo in SVG format. The project has had many contributions in the past, and already has a large collection of over 500 icons, so there was lots of materials and references to work off of. The entire collection of custom Atom icons can be found on the project's website. There are entire collections of interesting variations on the default Atom logo, including palettes pulled directly from the color values of country flags and famous sports team logos.

Take your pick - there's tons!

To begin my contribution, I first looked through the project repo in order to understand all the standards and conventions I'd need to adhere to for my eventual pull request to be truly valuable to the project. The repo's readme document has a very useful "How to Contribute" section that contained all the information that interested users need to get started. The instructions were fairly straightforward:
  • Create your own Atom icon using any of the existing contributions as a template.
  • Save your contribution(s) as an SVG file.
  • Remove the width and height attributes from the SVG (it causes problems for the project's automated processes).
  • Adhere to a specific naming convention if you are contributing multiple icons as part of a set (i.e. setname_iconname).
  • Submit a formal pull request so your contributions can be reviewed and (hopefully!) merged into the project's master branch
I decided to have a bit of fun and contribute a set of icons, called "Atomay", based on popular franchises in Japanese animation. For my fellow enthusiasts, see if you can identify what each of my four icons are based on:





I have submitted my custom icons in a pull request, which, at the time of writing, is still pending. I hope the project managers see my contributions as valuable and incorporate my PR into the official repo soon - it would be an honor!

This was a very fun contribution for me, as I have a background in graphics design and was able to come up with the icon designs fairly quickly, which was exactly my goal! I wanted my first Hacktoberfest contribution to be something I could confidently do, in order to give myself a strong start. However, I run into a few issues, particularly when it came to editing the metadata of the SVG files. I'd always known that SVG files were simply XML files with math-based instructions on how to construct the contained graphics, however despite my experiences in graphics design I'd never actually opened the SVG files in a text editor before. In order to meet the standards of the Atom icons project, I needed to edit the metadata to remove the width and height attributes... but when I attempted to do so on my first icon, I found that the entire canvas became misaligned. After some troubleshooting, I discovered that Adobe Illustrator - which I used to edit the icons -  seems to perform some proprietary black magic on the SVG metadata, which did not play well when I used one of the existing SVGs in the project as a template. The solution turned out to be explicitly opening Illustrator's artboard settings and manually setting the canvas boundaries. After that, I was able to go into the metadata and delete the unnecessary attributes without issue.

Just goes to show that nothing ever goes as planned... and perhaps do more research the next time I attempt to use proprietary software on open source work. Lesson learned!

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