This year BioJS has two Google Summer of Code students, Sarthak Sehgal and Megh Thakkar, who will be working on refreshing the BioJS registry, with plans to make it faster and easier to use. We’ve interviewed them to provide an introduction to the community.

We’re really excited to have you on board as part of the team this summer. Can you introduce yourselves?

Sarthak: Hello world! I am Sarthak Sehgal, a student from BITS Pilani, India pursuing a dual-degree course in Computer Science and Economics. I was introduced to open-source development earlier this year and I must accept that it has been a great journey so far.
Apart from spending hours on my laptop, I love traveling! A pup around my arms is the happiest feeling. A room full of puppies is not less than heaven for me!
Megh: Hi, I am Megh Thakkar, a Computer Science undergrad at BITS Pilani, India. I have been working as a backend developer for over 2 years, and it has been amazing. I love working on projects where I have independence to plan out and build things from scratch. My family mostly comprises of computer engineers (unlike my father, who is a doctor. Weird.) and there have been times when I used to get extremely curious when they would sit together to discuss anything remotely close to technology (I was very innocent you see).
Though my branch of work requires me to sit in front my laptop, I do utilize (my mother calls it ‘waste’ :P) my time in watching movies, ranging from thrillers to animated movies. Also, I am a huge Marvel fan! That’s the nerdy part. I am an adventure enthusiast, having done activities such as Skydiving, Scuba Diving, Rafting, Bungee Jumping as well as SkyWalks. As a result, I love travelling, exploring less travelled destinations, any European street would be my favorite destination!

What interested you about BioJS?

Sarthak: Looking around for projects on the GSoC page, I came across BioJS. Frontend? That’s my forte! As I went through various issues opened on the GitHub repository, I found out that we have to work on VueJS. Wow! I’ve always wanted to work on Vue (or React) for a big scale project. The mentors were really helpful and that’s one of the most significant things which attracted me. Soon I met Megh and he introduced me to a lot of insights of bioinformatics. Things were suddenly making a lot of sense! That is when I decided that I want to go for BioJS.
Megh: Though Computer Science complements Mathematics, I have been fascinated with Biology from a really long time, and I am sure to pursue research in bioinformatics! Not having enough experience in the same, I was confused on whom to turn to guidance from. And that’s when I came across BioJS. Backend? Check. Mentors working close to bioinformaticians at one of the best labs across the globe? mindblown. This was definitely once in a lifetime opportunity, and I was and still am ready to devote everything possible to make the best out of it. And yes, this is the stepping stone which I was waiting for and I’m sure it will help me shape my future. I’ll take this moment to thank my mentors again for this amazing opportunity.

When you two have joined community calls you’ve usually called from the same machine. How did you meet / did you know each other beforehand?

Megh: Sarthak is in his first year right now, whereas I am in my second year. I started contributing to BioJS after he did. I actually saw his Github repository for BioJS, after I had started talking to Rowland. We met later on and discussed that it would be best for both of us if we work together, as he specializes in front-end whereas I am a back-end developer. We started working on a prototype and the results were amazing, it was surprising that we were able to collaborate so well, in such a short span of time, and well, it was the beginning of a new journey! Also, we thought to sit in the same room during the first community call, but Rowland was quick to realize this. And then, without having a second thought, we decided that yes, why not call from the same machine! I still remember the reaction of Yo, it was priceless!

Tell us about your plans for your BioJS projects this summer.

Sarthak: As this is my first experience with open source and GSoC, I am really excited for the summer! The timeline, workflow and all the plans are set. I am going to work on the frontend using VueJS and Megh will be working on the backend using Pyramid. We will be working independently for the first month and the integration will be initialized later in June. We plan to take up the project in a very organized fashion. I will be updating all the completed, ongoing and future tasks on GitHub projects. The target is to complete the project along with testing by the end of July. We hope that we will be able to deliver a complete product and match the expectations of our mentors!

Are there any challenges you anticipate for your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Google Summer of Code is the first experience of open source for both of us, and many others, we believe. One of the major challenges for many could be difficulty in understanding how the open source communities and projects function but by the active interactions with mentors and their immense support, we now have an idea of how the things work and how we have to go ahead with the project. We don’t think that we are going to face any major challenges [except bugs! Well, we’ll manage it! ;)] and we firmly believe that we will be able to overcome the challenge with the help of such a great community, if one arises.