Google Summer of Code introduction, myths and how-tos
You should read this if• you love to code• you think you love to code• you think you might love to code, but aren’t quite sure yet
GSoC is• a global program where Google pays college students to work on open-source software projects. It’s something like a summer internship, only cooler• open to college students at all levels- from undergrad to PhD• online, so you can work from wherever you like
Why bother?• There’s a handsome stipend- USD 5000• GSoC is a very prestigious program• It’s a phenomenal learning experience. I can’t emphasize this enough• You get to work with some really cool people on some really cool projects• Oh, and you get a t-shirt at the end. Large ﬂaunt value, in the right circles :)
Myths• But I’m not a super-cool coder. Believe me, you don’t need to be. I could barely ﬁnd my way around when I began applying, and by the end of GSoC I was happily hacking away inside large libraries. Education is an essential part of the package.• But I’m not a CS/IT major. I’m majoring in Mech. Eng., and I did just ﬁne.
• But how will I ﬁnd time to apply? I have tests, projects....aaargh It’s just a bit of extra work- don’t run away from it.• But I probably won’t get through. Why apply? You don’t know that. In any case, the experience of applying itself will teach you a whole lot about open source, real-world software projects, version control systems and other essential stuff. Plus, you’ll be better placed for next year.
You need• basic proﬁciency with the language/ technology used by the project you pick. Check out the requirements• a working internet connection over the summer• the ability to work relatively independently
How it works• Google selects a bunch of open-source organizations for GSoC (180 this year)• The organizations outline project ideas for students and invite applications• Students discuss ideas with the individual organizations and submit their application through Google• The organizations (not Google) select students to work with and assign mentors to them
How to apply• Head over to www.google-melange.com and check out the list of accepted organizations• Pick out projects that catch your fancy. There are a lot of projects to choose from, so you’ll deﬁnitely ﬁnd one that suits your interest and skill-level• Contact the concerned organization over email / IRC (it’s like a public chat-room where all their developers hang out) and discuss your ideas with them
• Organizations may have certain prerequisites- for instance, they might want you to submit some code as a test. Make sure you fulﬁll all such conditions• When the formal application period opens, write out an awesome proposal describing your project idea, how you plan to go about it and a rough timeline. Many organizations have their own format for this
Tips• Be very active in discussing ideas with organizations. They’re looking for enthusiastic people who’ll stick with them through the summer, and hopefully even beyond• Even if it’s not explicitly required, write some code relevant to your project and show it to the mentors. This automatically addresses a lot of concerns they might have about you.
• Make liberal use of sketches / diagrams / doodles. Communicate well. There’ll be a lot of students like you, and clarity goes a long way.• Do some research. People really appreciate it when you’ve thought and worked hard over whatever you’re saying. They also really appreciate independence.• Do go through the reference material I’ve provided at the end. It’s invaluable
Caveats• You must realize that most open-source contributors have day jobs, and that they’re only volunteering their time and effort. Don’t waste their time unnecessarily when a bit of homework would have sufﬁced. This is extremely important.• Communicate well- proper emails, no SMS lingo
• The application period is somewhat intensive, and involves a bit of work. Please stick it out and have fun doing it- the rewards are worth it.• Getting started with open source software can be somewhat daunting at ﬁrst. Again, stick it out• College networks often have restrictive proxies. It’s a bummer.You should be able to get around this for things like pushing code
Must-Read• http://www.google-melange.com/gsoc/ document/show/gsoc_program/google/ gsoc2012/faqs The program FAQ. A wealth of information from dates to other nitty-gritties• http://en.ﬂossmanuals.net/GSoCStudentGuide/ A guide to GSoC; by students, for students. From how you should communicate with organizations to sample applications, it’s got everything.
Need help?• http://groups.google.com/group/google- summer-of-code-discuss (ofﬁcial group for GSoC applicants)• http://groups.google.com/group/gsoc-india (group for Indian GSoC students)• Email me at vishaldugar12 [at] gmail [dot] com. I’ll be glad to help you out