Thursday, 23 June 2011

Decoding GSOC

I applied for a position in this year's Google Summer of Code. Though frankly, prior to this year's GSOC, I had very little experience of Open source Software development, still I thought may be I should give it a shot. GSOC is a annual event that takes place from April to August, in which students code for various Open Source Organisations and Google pays them for it. If you complete your project, you get $5000, certificate and Google Goodies. The Theme says, flip bits not burgers. The whole event is based on getting more students familiar with Open Source.

I applied for Abiword this year, the very first organisation that appears in the list of participating organisations. AbiWord is a free word processing program similar to Microsoft® Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks. What makes Abiword special is its cross-platform characteristics. It runs on Windows, Linux and OSX too. Sadly I didn't get selected, but a Chinese friend of mine, 26 year old Phd student from Chinese Academy of Sciences, ChenXiajian got selected, who will complete the project, I applied for, Hyphenation Support in Abiword. Meanwhile, I made a lot of good friends in the Abiword Community. Even though I didn't get selected, but my friend Divyanshu Bandil, did get selected, in Ascend, where he will make a parser and compiler for ascend in python, due to its BSD licensing freedom. I also requested him to share his valuable experience, on how to get selected in GSOC. And even though he is very busy, trying to meet Deadlines, but he did spare some time, and shares his account.

By Divyanshu Bandil

After getting my proposal selected for GSoC 2011, my friend asked me to share the experience on his blog. So here are some tips for future aspirants.

1. Ignore the hoopla - The first impression you get about the program is that you have to be too skilful and a 'supercoder' for getting selected. You tend to think that the other guy who got selected is a magician in coding and carries all the algos at the tips of his hand. Though it is necessary to have some amount of experience in programming (hey! you already have that or why else would you be applying then?) and it helps if you have knowledge of basic data structures and some algorithms. But the fact is GSoC is more of doing a project and learning on the way. So believe me if you have the will to learn and work hard than nothing can stop you from getting selected.

2. Get your act together - I hope I have got you motivated enough to work forward. First of all ask some basic questions from yourself. What type of organisation/software you would like to work for? Which programming language you are comfortable to work with? Which is the the platform you would to interested to develop for?etc. You need not be too decisive but its good to have a general idea about the nature of the project you would be interested to work on.

3. Bond with the org - Based on the above answers choose two or maximum three organisations you would be interested to work for. Join their mailing lists and IRC. Chat with the members of the community. Discuss about the project idea you would like to work on. Try to contribute to the code by solving a bug or maybe adding a small feature. This improves your chances of getting selected by helping you to showcase your capability. The idea is to know the community and show that you will be able to work for them.

4. Writing the proposal - Once you have discussed about the project and are confident enough in its implemention, next step is to write your proposal. Most organisations provide a template for writing a proposal. However there are some things you should always mention in your proposal. First of all write a small abstract of the project. Provide some implementation details of the idea. Also provide a tentative schedule you will follow. Add some bits about your prior experience in programming. Its good to provide links to any project you have worked previously. Also submit your proposal early which leaves time enough to get it reviewed. Subsequently, you will be able to remove any loopholes in your implementation and make your proposal better.

After submitting your final proposal, just keep your fingers crossed!

Thanks a ton Divyanshu, for sharing your experience, with others. I hope it would be very useful to the future aspirants, in-case you have a question just fire away.

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  1. Thanks a Lot Divyanshu Bandil :))))

  2. This is a good share..:) And @Divy man I really thot of u as a friggin demi god of coding after gettin into gsoc but you kinda made it clear you were just "working hard with a kinda clear goal", so now i don think u're too fancy with it.. SHARE THOSE $5000 please.