My journey with Django Girls

by Anna Makarudze


June 23, 2022, 7:33 p.m.



This month, June 2022, marks five years for me in the position of Fundraising Coordinator for the Django Girls Foundation (DGF). The years I have been part of the DGF have been some of the amazing years of my life. I have worked with so many awesome women, including the founders, Ola and Ola and the current support team.

In this post I share with you how it all began and some of the work I have done since joining Django Girls in 2017. So how did my journey with Django Girls begin?

Starting out as an organizer

I first learned about Django Girls in December 2015, from a friend, Humphrey Butau. Humphrey wanted to organize Django Girls Harare as a build-up event to organizing the first PyCon Zimbabwe in 2016 and he needed a co-organizer for both events and I became his co-organizer.

To see how both a Django Girls event and a PyCon are run, we went on a long road trip to Windhoek, Namibia, and coached at Django Girls Windhoek as well as attended PyCon Namibia 2016 in January 2016. In April 2016 we had the first Django Girls Harare and in August 2016, the first Django Girls Masvingo. They were both lovely events and at that time I had no idea how much I would be involved with Django Girls in the future.

Meeting Ola and Ola at Django Under The Hood 2016

In November 2016, I traveled to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for Django Under The Hood (DUTH) 2016 conference. Most of the organizers of Django Under The Hood were involved with Django Girls including the founders, Ola and Ola. It was really great meeting them in person. Apart from learning more about Django internals while I was still a beginner, I got to attend my first sprint at DUTH 2016.

I picked the Django Girls website as the project I wanted to work on during the sprints. I had trouble setting up the website on my old Windows laptop but eventually got it working. I didn’t finish the work that I had started working on with a friend I had met during the conference but I did learn a lot.

The organizers had put dinners for a limited number of conference attendees which one could sign up to attend and pick the one they wanted to attend. I got to attend the one Ola Sendecka with her husband Tomek was attending. Jeff Triplet was also part of that dinner. Though I was on a very limited budget, having attended the conference on an opportunity grant, I really enjoyed meeting other Djangonauts and learning their stories on how they started working with Django and how long they have been working with Django. My experiences at DUTH 2016 and DjangoCon Europe 2017 were a huge part of my motivation to be more involved in the Django community.

Becoming the Fundraising Coordinator

In April 2017, DGF announced that their Awesomeness Ambassador, Lucie, was leaving them and they were hiring from anywhere in the world. I looked at the role and I knew I had no issues with the fundraising bit but had zero experience on the finance and admin side of things. A friend (Humphrey) encouraged me to apply anyway. I did apply for the role and was invited to the interview.

I attended the first round of interviews and as I expected, I did answer well questions to do with fundraising and didn’t have much to say about the finance and admin side of things. I was told I would hear from them later and I did hear from them with the best news I wasn’t expecting. It turned out that their best candidate for the Awesomeness Ambassador, Claire, was very well experienced with finance and admin and not so much with fundraising so they decided to create a new position of Fundraising Coordinator, which they wanted to interview me for.

I agreed to the second interview for Fundraising Coordinator and was offered the position which I accepted and since June 2017, I have been DGF’s Fundraising Coordinator. I have enjoyed that the role is part-time and flexible and I work from anywhere and anytime as I please. It has also exposed me to many awesome people within the Django Girls and Django community. I have also learned a lot from my time with Django Girls.

Becoming the Lead Maintainer of the Django Girls Repo

From June 2017 to July 2020, I worked on the Django Girls website just to change the contents of the website as well as the look and feel. Most of the work I did was related to the content I wanted on the website for my duties as Fundraising Coordinator. When I started, Ola Sendecka would review my work until when we got to a point where I could just deploy it if it works because getting reviews was proving difficult.

The founders, trustees, and their initial group of contributors were getting burnt out and felt they needed to move on to other things so from 2018 to 2020, there was a huge maintenance gap for the website. Pull requests from volunteers were not being reviewed and issues were not being attended to. When the transition from old trustees to new trustees was officially over, I found myself being the only person on the new board of trustees who knew how the website worked so I was asked to step up and add technical support for the website to my role.

I then realized I didn’t know as much about the Django and DGF websites as I thought I did. Over the years, I have taken up some online courses on Python and Django as well as other tools to increase my knowledge and skills. I also had to manually read the code and understand it when I needed to fix a bug, add new functionality, or change the way the code has been working. It has been a challenging but rewarding and interesting journey getting to be the lead maintainer of the Django Girls Repo.

Not only have I learned more about Django, but also learned about managing an organization repo on GitHub. I have also gained confidence in pull request reviews for others and how to submit reviews that are not toxic but friendly and encouraging for newbies. I also get to merge other people’s work and deploy it as well as adding issues for volunteers to work on. I have also added the documentation on how we do things in DGF and how to use some of the new functionality we have added since the new board took over.

Some of the work I have contributed to the Django Girls repo includes:

  • Changes to the event application process.
  • Increasing test coverage for the organize app.
  • Work with volunteera to upgrade the website from Django 2.0 to 2.2 to 3.2.
  • Add robots.txt and sitemap.xml and register the Django Girls website to Google Search Console.
  • Adding event duplication, freeze, and unfreeze functionality.
  • Contributing to the Django Girls internal wiki documentation.

Important lessons from my time with Django Girls

  • Paying attention to detail is very important.
  • Sometimes code might be broken even if the tests are passing.
  • The importance of refactoring and writing clean code.
  • Performance is important when adding new features.
  • Test coverage is important, always add tests for new features.

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Coding Tips

Pytest assert False


Category: Django

Pytest equivalent of

unittest.TestCase.assertFalse()

is

assert some_condition.

For example

self.assertFalse(form.is_valid())

using pytest would be

assert not form.is_valid().

✨Magic ✨