Google Summer of Code 2017 is starting - ways to get involved

Posted by r.silva on 27 January 2017 - 3:26pm

By Raniere Silva, Community Officer.Laptop on the beach.

The first phase of Google Summer of Code 2017 launched on January 19th and by participating as an open source project or mentor you could help make this edition the best one so far. This is an opportunity to have that change to your IDE that you have dreamt of for months, remove the bottleneck in your data analysis pipeline or test a new idea by the end of August.

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) allows projects to download developers! We at the Institute think that it’s a great opportunity for those working with research software to be a part of the wider open source community either by mentoring students (who are paid by Google to work on open source projects during the summer) or by suggesting project ideas. The first phase of the programme is when mentoring organisations can apply to participate in GSoC: the deadline is February 9, 2017 17:00 (GMT). In this phase, mentoring organisations start to collect project ideas and identify mentors; in this post we will list some ways you can contribute to GSoC's.

I want to lead my project / organisation’s application

If you are part of an open source software project, or an organisation which produces/supports a lot of open source software, you can apply on their behalf to participate as a mentoring organisation. GSoC is well documented and you should start by reading their notes for first year mentoring organisation followed by how to apply. If you want to talk with someone about your plans don't hesitate to contact us.

Something to keep in mind is that Google also accept umbrella organisations as mentoring organisations, i.e. organisations that will handle the application and administrative tasks on behalf of two or more "smaller" organisations. The Python Software Foundation, the GNU Project, and the Open Astronomy are examples of umbrella mentoring organisations. Some universities were umbrella organisations in previous years for projects developed by their researchers, for example see how the Australian National University were involved, so trying to join forces with your colleagues down the corridor is a possible strategy.

I want to be a mentor

This is great. You will need to select one mentoring organisation to be a mentor and, unfortunately, the list of mentoring organisation is only available in the second phase of the programme. In this first phase, we recommend you get in touch with organisations you are interested in mentoring projects for, mentioning your interest in being a GSoC 2017 mentor. These might include projects you are already contributing to, or those where your skills might be useful. Although the list of accepted mentoring organisations changes each year, you can look at past GSoCs to get an idea of the groups which act as mentoring organisations.

I have project ideas

Independently of whether you want to be a mentor or not, all mentoring organisation applicants need project ideas and yours are more than welcome. Try to find the project ideas list of the project you want to contribute to. If you don't find the list, don't be shy and send a message to the project asking for the address. When you find the list, have a look in it and add your own ideas.

To help you, we provide the location of some lists below. Don't limit yourself to the list below.

  1. Python Software Foundation
    Is an umbrella organisation for any Python project.

  2. R
    Is an umbrella organisation for any R project.

  3. Julia
    Is an umbrella organisation for any Julia project.

  4. GNU Octave
    GNU Octave is an open source clone of MATLAB. Also check GNU Project's ideas.

  5. SciLab
    SciLab is an open source software for numerical computation.

  6. SageMath
    SageMath is an open source mathematics software system.

  7. SciRuby
    If you love Ruby and you think that researchers should use it as their first choice when doing data analysis or number crunch, this mentoring organisation is for you.

  8. CERN
    You read correct, the European Organization for Nuclear Research is applying for GSoC 2017 and has participated in the past.

  9. The Apache Software Foundation
    Apache is another umbrella organisation for projects who are members of their association.

  10. NumFOCUS
    Is an umbrella organisation for research software.

  11. Open Source Geospatial
    Is an umbrella organisation for projects sponsored by the Open Source Geospatial Foundation.

  12. Mozilla
    Is an umbrella organisation for projects related with the Mozilla Foundation, who develop the Firefox web browser.

You will find more mentoring organisation in the lists of those that took part last year.

I have students for the programme

Mentoring organisations expect that student applicants to write their own application that can be or not be inspired by their student/supervisor’s project ideas. For your students' applications to have more chances to succeed you should recommend that they get involved with the project early so they have enough time to look on the source code, interact with the project, and write a good application based on what they discovered.

I want to be a student on the programme

Start to think about which project/mentoring organisation you want to work with during the summer. If you need inspiration you can look at some of the 1032 accepted projects from 2016 or google for blogs from previous students where they share their experience during the programme—Ranveer Aggarwal and Paulo Morris are two students that I found when googling "gsoc 2016 blog". You can message the project saying you are interested in taking part but instead of only saying "I want to participate in GSoC 2017" you should write more about yourself and what type of project do you want to work on otherwise the community can't do much for you. Be aware that some mentoring organisations require you mention in your application an accepted or submitted fix you did on their project—it can be a "good first bug"—and to get your first contribution accepted can take a few hours or days of work. The application period for students is March 20, 2017 - April 3, 2017 and before you fill in your application you should read GSoC's official manual for students.

Spread the word

Not part of any of the previous groups? You can still help make this year Google Summer of Code the best one so far by spreading the word. We at the Institute believe in the reproducible research paradigm and one important piece of that puzzle is access to the source code of the software used in the research, in other words, use of open source software. In addition, GSoC can attract more Research Software Engineers to this career path. For the programme be successful it needs hard working students that continue to participate in the project after GSoC ends, which helps sustain the development of software which supports research. Share GSoC2017 on your social network. Share this post with your co-workers, colleagues and friends. Taking part in GSoC helps sustain software and develops your sustainability skills; please consider taking part in this win-win programme!