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Google Summer of Code accepted student’s checklist

A little while ago Google published the list of accepted students for Google Sumer of Code 2012, and KDE got 60 students. If you are one of those 60, I wish you again a warm welcome to KDE.

I have put together a checklist of tasks and suggestions I advise you to follow during the community bonding phase. While you are not required to code until May 21 (end of the community bonding period), you are expected to get ready and be in good standing with your community. By now I suppose you have already contacted your mentor.

What follows also applies to Season of KDE students.

(1) Join the relevant communication channels.

KDE contributors do not just silently churn out code, they like to hang out a lot, exchange ideas and opinions. But since KDE pretty huge, different subprojects have their own communication channels. You should definitely join your subproject’s development mailing list (e.g. amarok-devel@kde.org for Amarok, digikam-devel@kde.org for digiKam, etc.) as an absolute minimum. I also strongly advise you to join your subproject’s IRC channel on irc.freenode.net, as many development discussions happen there (e.g. #kdevelop for KDevelop, #plasma for Plasma, etc.). You should also join #kde-devel and #kde-soc on irc.freenode.net. Your mentor will instruct you if there are other communication channels you should be aware of.

(2) Get acquainted with KDE’s infrastructure.

You should get a KDE Identity account and fill out your profile. This account works with most of the services provided by KDE, such as review board, wikis (Community and Techbase) and forums. You need to sign up separately for KDE’s issue tracker. You must then also apply for a contributor account to be able to commit code, please follow these instructions to do so.

(3) Get ready to blog.

Writing a blog is a great way to introduce yourself to the community and keep everybody informed on your progress. If you do not have a blog yet, consider starting one and having it aggregated on Planet KDE. I personally recommend WordPress which is also Free Software but you can use whatever platform you like. It is not mandatory but I think it’s a nice way to motivate yourself and bond with the community. Do not feel pressured to do it, but a few articles when you reach certain milestones in your project could be very nice.

(4) Learn the ways of the community.

Free Software communities work in certain specific ways which are sometimes very different from what a new Google Summer of Code student might be used to. To help you get up to speed quickly, Donnie Berkholz, Lydia Pintscher and Kevin Smith, Google Summer of Code administrators for Gentoo & X.Org, KDE and XMPP Standards Foundation respectively put together a very good article on the DOs and DON’Ts of Google Summer of Code for students. If you are new to KDE I consider this article a required reading assignment before starting your work. It is short, easy to read and to the point, and every word of it applies to your situation as Google Summer of Code students at KDE. For more information on getting involved with KDE specifically, I highly recommend the Free manual KDE Dev Guide, a step by step introduction to KDE for new contributors. A much more complete resource on getting involved with Free Software is Open Advice, a Free knowledge collection from a variety of prominent Free Software contributors.

(5) Talk it through.

You are not required to code for almost a month until the coding period begins, but work on your project starts now. Plan ahead. Do analysis and design. Make sure that if there’s any potential obstacle in your project, it comes up as soon as possible. Set aside a few hours and schedule meetings with your mentor to discuss the fine details of your project and iron out the kinks. It’s best if such discussions are held in the subproject’s IRC channel to allow all the interested parties in the community to contribute. Be ready to submit regular updates to your mentor once you start coding. KDE Google Summer of Code administrators strongly recommend weekly updates to the subproject’s development mailing list, but the exact way you do this is up to your mentor.

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Posted by on 24/04/2012 in Amarok, GSoC2012, KDE

 

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Announcing Season of KDE 2012

This year KDE has accepted 60 Google Summer of Code students. We are happy with this number, it is more than last year, and I’m sure these 60 students will make a great contribution to KDE as a whole.

But this number is still a hard limit: we had to say no to many brilliant proposals. The selection process has not been easy, and we had to make a lot of tough choices. KDE definitely has the mentoring capacity for more than 60 students at a time. So while we cannot come up with more Google Summer of Code slots, we can still make our mentors available through a similar scheme: Season of KDE.

What is Season of KDE?

Season of KDE is a community outreach program, much like Google Summer of Code, hosted by the KDE community. It is meant for people who could not get into Google Summer of Code for various reasons, or people who simply prefer a differently structured, somewhat less constrained program. Season of KDE is managed by the same team of admins and mentors that take care of Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in matters for KDE, with the same level of quality and care.

Who can take part?

Everyone can apply for Season of KDE. We give preference to those who have applied for Google Summer of Code and to students, but we will gladly consider applications from anyone.

What do I get out of this?

A great summer working on a really cool KDE project and gaining valuable experience. If you complete your project successfully you also get a T-shirt, a certificate, and maybe a few other goodies.

How do I apply?

If you are serious about it and have already contacted the relevant KDE subproject to discuss your proposal, fill out the Season of KDE application form and we will get back to you.

What is the timeline?

The timeline is up to you and your mentor. We advise you to stay as close to the Google Summer of Code timeline as possible. The only hard constraint is the application deadline: you apply through the application form before May 7, 2012 at 19:00 UTC in order to be eligible for participation.

Do I need to have a mentor before applying?

It is preferred. Ideally, you should contact a KDE subproject well before applying, ask for feedback on your idea if you have one, and request a mentor directly. A list of KDE subproject contacts is available on the Google Summer of Code 2012 ideas page. You can also apply without a mentor and we will try to find one for you.

Do I need to have a project idea before applying?

It is preferred. If you do not have one we will try to find one for you. Keep in mind that the KDE community is pretty big, so you should at least have an idea of which KDE subproject you wish to work on.

Do I need to write a proposal like in Google Summer of Code?

No, but we would like to see a brief project plan describing what you will be working on.

Is it only for coders like Google Summer of Code?

We are willing to consider non-coding projects as well, but you should definitely get in touch to figure out the details beforehand. The KDE Community Wiki describes ways to get involved with KDE that do not require coding.

I applied for a project in Google Summer of Code but another student got selected for it. Can I still work on it?

Maybe, but likely not. You should ask the mentor that was assigned to your idea. We can try to find something related for you if you want, or something completely different. Let us know what you wish and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

Is this an extension of Google Summer of Code or connected to Google?

No. While Season of KDE is in many ways modeled after Google Summer of Code and administered by the same members of the KDE community, it is completely independent from Google Summer of Code and has no connection to Google whatsoever.

For further questions feel free to join our IRC channel #kde-soc on Freenode or email the admin team at kde-soc-mentor-owner@kde.org.

In the past four years we had in order 1, 4, 8 and 20 successful Season of KDE students. We like to think this says something about how welcoming, helpful and fun the KDE community is. Our goal for this year is at least 30 🙂

Are you going to be one of them? You should be!

 
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Posted by on 23/04/2012 in Amarok, GSoC2012, KDE

 

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Google Summer of Code accepted students announced

Google has just published the list of student proposals that have been accepted for Google Summer of Code 2012.

This year KDE received more than 200 proposals. 192 of those are valid and have not been withdrawn. The general quality level is very high, and most of those 192 proposals are very good. Google has allocated 60 student slots to KDE, which means that this year we are able to accept 60 Google Summer of Code students. The trouble is that we got a lot more than 60 good proposals! During the past few weeks the GSoC admins and mentors of KDE had to make some really tough choices.

If you are a student, you should have received a notification about the state of your proposals via email. Either way, you can check the status of your proposals on Google Melange.

Accepted into Google Summer of Code?

Has your proposal been accepted by an organization? Congratulations!

Has your proposal been accepted by none other than KDE? Awesome! This means that you will be spending your summer hacking with us. On behalf of the KDE community, I wish you a warm welcome! The selection process was hard and competitive, but if your proposal has been accepted it already means that we think you are the very best. Feel free to brag about it a bit, you’ve earned it! 🙂

I will write another blog article shortly on the next steps for accepted Google Summer of Code students.

Not accepted into Google Summer of Code?

If on the other hand your proposal has not been accepted, you are still very welcome to hack on KDE! Note that I never used the word “rejected” because I do not consider a proposal that has not be accepted for Google Summer of Code as something that’s unwelcome or unworthy for KDE. Many factors come into play in proposal selection which do not depend on the skill set of a student, including slot availability and mentor availability. We had to say no to quite a few brilliant proposals.

For those students whose proposals have not been accepted for Google Summer of Code who still wish to contribute to KDE in a guided, mentored way this summer, KDE hosts the Season of KDE program. Season of KDE is much like Google Summer of Code: while the student doesn’t get paid, he does get a mentor and a T-shirt, and he gets to hack on KDE for the summer and beyond. My first summer with KDE was as a Season of KDE student, and it was a very rewarding and enlightening experience. Season of KDE will be officially announced shortly, stay tuned 🙂

Some other organizations also host programs similar to Season of KDE for students who did not find a place in Google Summer of Code or simply prefer a differently structured program. Such programs include Haiku Code Drive (not confirmed yet for this year), illumos Students (not confirmed yet for this year), Umit Summer of Code (not confirmed yet for this year), X.Org Endless Vacation of Code, Ruby Summer of Code and possibly others. All of these programs allow you to work on really cool software with a mentor over a longer period and create something you can be proud of. Other communities will likely also be willing to provide guidance if you contact them directly, so don’t be shy 😉

 
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Posted by on 23/04/2012 in Amarok, GSoC2012, KDE

 

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GSoC students: submissions deadline in 3 days!

Prospective Google Summer of Code 2012 students.

This is a friendly reminder that the student proposal submission period closes in 3 days.

If you are still working on a proposal, or if you have prepared a proposal but you have not submitted it to Google Melange yet, you better do it very soon!

Good luck 😉

 
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Posted by on 03/04/2012 in Amarok, GSoC2012, KDE

 

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Google Summer of Code students: time to submit those proposals!

Attention prospective Google Summer of Code students: the student proposal submission window has begun.

This means that if you haven’t contacted the relevant KDE subproject and/or mentor and submitted your proposal for review, it’s high time to do so. If you have already gotten feedback and you think your proposal is in good shape, you’re encouraged to officially submit it to Google Melange.

Submitting early means your proposal might get more attention 😉

Mentors: interest from prospective students has been high, and we’ll need to match those students with mentors. Offering more mentors might increase the number of student slots we get from Google, so if you’re an established KDE developer and you’re interested in giving a helping hand during Google Summer of Code, please sign up to be a mentor on Google Melange as soon as possible.

 
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Posted by on 26/03/2012 in Amarok, GSoC2012, KDE

 

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KDE accepted for Google Summer of Code 2012

I’m happy to announce that KDE has been accepted as a mentoring organization in Google Summer of Code 2012. This is our 8th consecutive year. Congrats to all accepted organizations, and a big thanks to everyone who helped to make this happen for KDE!

Students. Now that you have a list of accepted organizations, it’s time to start working on your proposal. KDE maintains an ideas page which is an excellent starting point, and don’t forget to check our student guidelines. I’ve also prepared an article a while ago with a few tips on how to structure your proposal.

You can come up with your own idea or base your proposal on something from the ideas page, but either way it’s very important that you get feedback from the team you wish to work with well before the submissions deadline. If you have general questions about getting involved with KDE as a Google Summer of Code student you’re welcome to ask on our IRC channel #kde-soc on Freenode, or join the mailing list kde-soc@kde.org. For questions about a specific idea please contact the relevant team (subproject) directly.

Finally, make sure to keep an eye on the official Google Summer of Code timeline – those deadlines are always closer than they seem 😉

Mentors. Now that we know that KDE has been accepted, it’s time to get ready to mentor some students. If you wish to be a mentor your next steps should be:

  1. subscribe to kde-soc-mentor@kde.org,
  2. sign up on http://www.google-melange.com and apply as a mentor for KDE,
  3. contact one of the admins to approve your requests.

For questions you can reach the admin team on #kde-soc or at kde-soc-mentor-owner@kde.org.

And most importantly, in the following weeks you’ll be contacted by prospective students with questions and feedback requests for their proposals. It might take a bit of time and you might get questions with very obvious answers. Please be patient and keep an eye on the timeline 😉

To help you through the process I’ve updated last year’s KDE GSoC process flowchart, courtesy of Lydia Pintscher.

 

 
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Posted by on 16/03/2012 in Amarok, GSoC2012, KDE

 

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How to write a kick-ass proposal for Google Summer of Code

In a few weeks students can begin submitting their applications for Google Summer of Code 2012.

KDE is applying to be a mentoring organization again this year, and I’ve already been contacted by several students looking to do a Google Summer of Code project with KDE (and specifically Amarok in my case). Prospective Summer of Code students usually have lots of enthusiasm, and they often write great proposals with little or no help, but sometimes these proposals might not be structured so well or lack key information.

I’ve been a Google Summer of Code student with KDE three times (four if you count Summer of KDE) so I’ve been in the very situation prospective Summer of Code students find themselves right now. I’ve also been on the other side of the fence: I haven’t been a Google Summer of Code mentor yet, but I have mentored Google Code-In students and I’m a professional software engineering instructor (since 2008), so I like to think I can relate with both students and mentors in this case.

This post is for students who wish to take part in Google Summer of Code.

Google Summer of Code is a kind of like a scholarship program, and a very competitive one: if you get picked, you’re one of just a thousand students in the whole world (1075 last year, 51 of those with KDE) who get to spend their summer hacking on Free Software while learning from the very best hackers, and get paid for it too! In order to do that, you need to submit an application to Google. An application is essentially a bunch of information you enter in a form, the most important part of it is your proposal.

A Google Summer of Code proposal is a document, it can be rich text but it’s best to consider it a plain text document because the web application that handles proposals has only basic formatting features.

The KDE community maintains a wiki page specifically targeted at Summer of Code students with very useful information on how to get started. Read it. Really, read it, please. Yes, all of it 😛 Done? Great! Assuming you’ve gone through points 1-3 of the Recommended steps list, it’s time to prepare your proposal.

Writing a good proposal is not easy, especially if you’re a student making first contact with an organization, in this case your proposal is your best advertisement. You have to convince the organization (or at least some key people inside it) why YOU are the right person for the job! What follows applies to KDE, but it should work for other organizations as well.

I used to structure my proposals the following way (worked well 3 times). It’s not a rule! You can structure your proposal otherwise, but I think this is a good guideline if you need some inspiration:

  1. Introduction. Every software project should solve a problem. Before offering the solution (your Google Summer of Code project), you should first define the problem. What’s the current state of things? What’s the issue you wish to solve and why? Then you should conclude with a sentence or two about your solution. This is somewhat like an elevator pitch.
  2. Project goals. This section should again be short and to the point, and it might be a good idea to format it like a list. You should propose a clear list of deliverables, explaining exactly what you promise to do and what you do not plan to do. “Future developments” can be mentioned, but your promise for the three months of Google Summer of Code term is what counts.
  3. Implementation. This section can be longer and more detailed. You should describe what you plan to do as a solution for the problem you defined earlier. You don’t need to provide a lot of technical details, but you do need to show that you understand the technology and illustrate key technical elements of your proposed solution in reasonable detail.
  4. Timeline. This section is easily overlooked, yet it’s arguably more important than the previous section. With the timeline you show that you understand the problem, have a solution, and that you have also broken it down into manageable bits and are have an actual plan on how to approach it. With this section you set expectations, so don’t make promises you can’t keep. A modest, realistic and detailed timeline is much better than a timeline that promises to move mountains. Mentors can spot unrealistic timelines.
  5. About me. If you’re done with the other sections this will be a piece of cake. Just put down your contact information and write a few sentences about you and why you think you’re the best for this job. It’s ok to brag a little 😉

Overall, submit your proposal early, keep it short but include all the necessary information. Get it reviewed by the right people in the organization, well before submitting it to the Google Summer of Code web application. In KDE’s case you should submit your proposal to the contributors’ mailing list of the relevant subproject as published on the ideas page. I can’t stress this enough: get feedback. Organizations want good proposals and good students, and are usually eager to help you improve your proposal. Just write a brief and informal email, attach your proposal and ask for feedback. No need to write “Dear Sir” and such, we’re cool 😉

I hope this advice proves useful. We have also gathered some accepted proposals from past years, you might find them useful as inspiration.

You can submit more than one proposal to the same organization or different organizations to increase your chances, but don’t overdo it: quality is better than quantity.

Good luck!

 
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Posted by on 01/03/2012 in Amarok, GSoC2012, KDE

 

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