OSF’s Kendall Nelson wore a code skirt onstage at the Berlin Summit. Here’s the story behind it.


No one writes code in pencil, but Kendall Nelson thought a .yaml file would make a fetching pencil skirt.

It’s her tribute to the OpenStack community, offering a snapshot of the time she merged her inaugural patch long before joining the OpenStack Foundation as an upstream developer advocate. If you’re a project team lead (PTL) or were involved in one of the core projects then — August 15, 2015 — your work might be woven into the pattern.

Nelson also runs the Community Contributor Awards intended to honor the unsung heroes of the community with honorifics like the “Don’t Stop Believin'” cup.  She debuted the skirt onstage at the Berlin Summit while handing out the most recent edition of the awards.

The code on the skirt isn’t actually the code from her first patch: it’s the project.yaml file from the day her first patch got merged. The file shows all of the projects, the PTLs and the missions of the projects.

“I wanted that code instead of mine because it showed an overview of what the community was like at the time,” she tells Superuser. “And you can look at it now and see how much it has changed. How much we’ve evolved as a community in only a few years.”

The custom design is the handiwork of Shenova Fashion, which specializes in STEM-inspired garments. (Think Fibonacci-sequence sheaths and Mandelbrot fractal weekender bags.) In 2012, the designer and owner Holly Renee noticed a lack of fun, sophisticated pieces that expressed her love for science — so she decided to make them. Her first design? A spectacular Neuroscience Retina Dress.

Nelson says she has her sights on rolling out a less truncated version — a dress — with more community code.

“Contributing to OpenStack has been the most rewarding and fun job I’ve ever had,” Nelson says. “From the day I got my first patch merged till now has been an adventure that I want to share with as many people as I can. ”