In July, I went on a three-week internship with CSDN in Beijing. CSDN (or CSDN.NET), self-described as „China’s biggest software knowledge group“, provides various services like web and blog hosting as well as forums as a method to ask fellow developers for help to the Chinese software developer community.

Staying at a nearby hotel, there was little else to do during the week, so I usually ended up working from about 09:30 to approximately 18:00. The first week, my team and I developed concepts for a new campaign about web accessibility, where CSDN would be collaborating with other major Chinese IT companies. The general idea of web accessibility is to make the internet more accessible to disabled people, for example by providing text alternatives for images which then can be read to blind people by special screen reader software. This involved a lot of research into the special requirements on web sites caused by various forms not only of disabilities but also of more common conditions. These include amongst others bad vision due to old age, as more and more elderly people use the internet. The problems this results in can be mitigated by web developers by adhering to certain standards released by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The two weekends I spent sightseeing at various places in and around Beijing: The first weekend, I visited the Temple of Heaven in central Beijing and the (New) Summer Palace to the northwest of the city as well as the Hutongs in the city centre.

From then, the focus of my internship shifted more and more to actual software development. During the second week, I was tasked with setting up an online GitLab instance, so that the developers could test their own products against a new version. Although communication with the developers themselves was sometimes a challenge (they hardly spoke any English), it always somehow worked out. While completing this task, I also installed all the necessary software for the task I should do in the last week (which takes quite some time downloading at 10 KB/s). Also, I received a short introduction in the Ruby programming language, which – while quite similar to other languages I know – has some very unique features.

On my second (and last) weekend in Beijing, I visited the Great Wall of China in Mutianyu, 70km northeast of the city center. Although being modernized in the last years, it is not yet as full with tourists as the more famous Badaling in the northwest. Twenty kilometers off the highway past Badaling, you will find Longqing Gorge, a storage reservoir inside a narrow gorge, which I visited on the last Sunday in Beijing. Well-known for the ice sculptures displayed in winter and the 260-meter escalator leading up to the top of the dam, which is encased in a hull made to look like a (Chinese) dragon, the gorge itself also hides multiple Buddhist temples and some beautiful natural features.

The last week at CSDN I spent developing unit tests for CSDN’s CODE product, which provides git-based source code management and other features (e.g. blogs) to its users. Running with Ruby on Rails and organized into a Model-View-Controller scheme connected over Ruby on Rails‘ ActiveRecord functionality, I took on the task of writing unit tests for the Model part of the software, using the RSpec framework extended with various other toolkits such as shoulda.

Partial code of a unit test for CSDN's CODE