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Meet Antoni and Tobias, YH4F participants

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Find out more about the Youth Hacking 4 Freedom participants of the 2023 edition. We are continuing this series talking with Antoni and Tobias: Antoni developed a dictionary to preserve endangered languages, and Tobias conceived a rich featured calendar.

YH4F main illustration wtih the 3 YH4F figures and with the “2023 projects” label

Antoni and Tobias participated in YH4F in 2023, being both currently in their last year of high school. Antoni is Polish and he developed the Endangered Languages Dictionary, software with the purpose of keeping languages at risk of extinction alive, valuing the contribution of native language speakers. Tobias comes from the Netherlands, and he developed Plan2Go, a calendar webapp he got the idea for while talking with his friends.

Read along to learn more about these projects and their developers!


FSFE: Hi Tobias and Antoni! Can you introduce yourselves before explaining your projects?

Tobias: I’m Tobias from the Netherlands and I’m 17 years old. I love programming and helping others by making software. Sometimes I play video games or make stuff for video games.

Antoni: My name is Antoni, I am a high school student from Poland. I’m mainly a linguistics and computer science nerd, but am also interested in sociology, psychology, cultural studies, literature, and philosophy. I would like to study computer science and classics.

FSFE: What is the project you developed for YH4F 2023? How does it work?

Antoni:

The Endangered Languages Dictionary (ELD) project aims to be a dictionary for the world’s languages that are at risk of extinction. The project home page–still in construction–intends to only have a title in Esperanto and a bar redirecting to the selected language main page. There one can search for a phrase. The browser calculates Levenshtein’s distance between the phrase being searched and all the phrases in the given sub-dictionary (the upper limit of the search is the number to the left of the search bar that one can specify, the default is 2). All phrases meeting the specified criteria are displayed on the page as hyperlinks to their specific pages.
Screenshot of the landing page of the Endangered Languages Dictionary
The landing page of the Endangered Languages Dictionary

Tobias: I developed Plan2Go with the idea to make a planning app that is fully customisable and with many features. The front end has been coded with HTML and CSS, and the calendar and customisations are made using JavaScript. You can get access to the calendar by using the website hosted on GitLab Pages, by cloning the code and building the source, or by using the desktop app.

Screenshot of the main page of the Plan2Go webapp in monthly view mode,   with some events as examples.
The main page of Plan2Go with example events

Tobias: Once you are in, you see an overview of the current month and you can click to add new events. If you click on an existing event, you can view more details about it and you can delete it. If you click above an event, you can add another event. Using the “Back” and “Next” buttons you can go back and forward in months. When an event starts, you could get a notification [not fully working, see below in the interview]. Overall, its key features are: multiple events per day, theme switcher, exporting and importing iCals, secret Easter Eggs, PWA installable and a desktop app version available.

Screenshot of example event details in Plan2Go
Plan2Go example event details window

FSFE: What motivated you to create this software?

Antoni: I wanted to provide an online presence of the endangered languages to prevent their native speakers, especially the young ones, from abandoning their tongues. I believe “if you aren’t online, you don’t exist” to be an unjust rule. This dictionary was going to be the first step in achieving this.

Tobias: Mostly, the idea came while talking with my friends, who just started programming. We made a whole list of stuff that we could make, and we shared this list publicly. Eventually, I just let my friends choose what to do. They chose to go with a planner, and we made that.

FSFE: Your projects are Free Software! When and how did you get in touch with the movement?

Antoni: One day, at school, I was chatting with a classmate and introduced Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) to him. He replied he preferred VirtualBox, as “it is open source” After I explained to him that he was wrong [VirtualBox is licensed under GPL, but the extensions are proprietary], and the openness of the source code of WSL, he asked for evidence, and he got it. After examining the codebase, he wrote me: “It is quite similar to the situation when you would paint a beautiful white shirt in brown just to wallow it in the mud. (of course the shirt is Linux)”. This has influenced me to the degree that I got pushed even further in that direction than my classmate.

Tobias: I always only made software for myself, I began to do it more seriously when I found out that other people might also want my software. So I published it online, without any license.

FSFE: So it seems that at the time you did not know that by default, if you do not specify a license, it is copyrighted.

Tobias: Yes, I discovered Free Software licenses thanks to YH4F!

FSFE: Both projects are very interesting and ambitious. Why did you decide to code them from scratch, rather than to contribute existing projects?

Tobias: It’s always nice to have one [project] that you can completely modify the way you want. If you are going to contribute to other projects that are already kind of finished, there is only a little bit of stuff that you might be able to add. We had about six months, and I did not really think I could just spend all of it contributing to just an existing project. Most probably, I would have been done before the end of the coding period. Above all, it is very helpful to know what’s behind a project you build from scratch by your own.

Antoni: I didn’t find any Free Software similar to mine, though I didn’t actively do any in-depth research. If it comes to the value of ELD, it is low-bandwith friendly as it doesn’t depend heavily on stylesheets. Additionally, this also implies a decrease of resources. needed only to render a webpage!

FSFE: How was the experience of developing your software during YH4F 2023?

Antoni: What I enjoyed the most was the fact that this is not only a competition, but also an opportunity to learn something, just by participating! I think that is mainly because of the long timespan given and the short list of requirements.

Tobias: I liked the whole thing! You can program stuff, you can join meetings with other participants and have a discussion. For example, you can explain your project and then get some feedback. That’s the deal: making software and getting feedback from others. And just having fun.

FSFE: What are the future plans for your project?

Antoni: I would like to share the message to conserve endangered languages because it is quite sad that we are losing linguistic diversity. The world would be less interesting and less rich. About extending the project, I am going to pause its development, and get back to it once I have resources, such as time and money.

Tobias: If I find the time and I get an idea to add something to the software or just fix a feature that does not work right now (like the time notifications) then I will work on it. Otherwise, I will just leave it as it is right now.

FSFE: Thank you Antoni and Tobias. We wish you a bright future and a lot of success with your plans!


The 2024 edition of Youth Hacking 4 Freedom is still going on now! The coding period ends on 30 June and you can still take part in the 2024 edition via last minute registration. Check out the YH4F website to find out all the details of this competition or feel free to reach out to the organisers via mail!