15 helpful FAQs for Google Summer of Code
The bullets in this article have been curated over the questions which fellow developers keep asking about Google Summer of Code and how to start approaching open source. So if you find anything missing or incorrect feel free to write to me.
1. Where do I find the list of ideas shortlisted by organisations?
You can find the list of ideas on the individual page of every organisation. For example, to view the list of ideas of FOSSASIA head to this link and find “View Ideas List.” To view all the participating organisations go to https://summerofcode.withgoogle.com/organizations
2. How do you prepare for Google Summer of Code? What should be my roadmap?
Start early is the best advice you’d get from every GSoCer. Make sure to interact with fellow developers and organisation admins. Be active on their IRC channels. Get involved completely with atleast one project where you find a potential of development and of adding new features. Find bugs, issues and report them in the repository. Help fellow developers in the project and review their work. Try to get involved in their community.
3. How early should I begin writing my proposal?
You shouldn’t be in a situation of submitting the proposal at the last minute, so to make sure you are doing good on your proposal, have a green signal from your potential mentors and have reviewed every thing correctly you should begin atleast 3 weeks before the deadline. There might be times your proposal would need two to three revisions from the mentors, mentors are busy most of the times so don’t run after sending them long messages and pinging them on the main channels. They definitely will help you out once they are free.
4. Could you give me any suggestions on which organization to contribute?
There is a huge list of organisations on Summer of Code website which will help you filter organisations based on Programming Language, Projects, Technology etc. Best way to approach an organisation is directly in their organisation’s IRC channel.
5. What should my proposal look like? How intense should it be?
Your proposal should contain important sections such as Abstract, Goals, Implementation, Milestones/Timeline, Future Prospects, Mockups/Wireframes if there is need to put any, UML/Data Flow Diagrams which can help you explain the organisation what you are proposing exactly. Most imnportantly at the end it should have a detailed report about you, your background and your past work. You should be able to answer all types of questions like, How many hours can you contribute everyday? How are your goals being achieved based on your timeline? Are you giving too much time on a particular feature? Is this the correct way to approach this feature? You should highlight any commitments during the GSoC period like exams, vacations etc. due to which you won’t be able to give time.
6. Can I ask my prospective organisation to review my proposal?
Yes, definitely. It is a very good habit to talk about what you want to do with your mentors and your organisation. This way you are not only getting noticed to them but they also have a clear picture of how you approach things and how your approach would be during the GSoC period.
7. What if I don't know much about the project?
It’s okay to not know about the project. Ask your mentors and fellow developers and discuss with them. Usually they have a clear description about what the project is about in the ideas list or they might have talked about it in their IRC channels. Find out if whether you have to learn any new languages or frameworks? Do you have the correct resources to learn them? Do you have enough time to complete the courses? What extra practice or sample projects you will have to refer to start with the project. Make sure you do proper research before choosing a project.
8. Can I learn and code at the same time during the GSoC period?
Yes many people have been doing it and its not something new. You are not expected to know everything before hand. However, you should be able to convince your mentors by stating them the actual timeline you will follow in order to do this. If you have zero knowledge about the subject you should think again whether this project is for you or not.
9. How much do my past contributions to open source matter?
They do matter to most organisations. If you have a good history with the mentors and the project you are applying to, you have greater chances of getting in. Make sure you also show any other work related to your project or something which you have done at your university which is directly an application of what you will be doing in the program. The organisations will definitely be interested in knowing about this.
10. I have a research background, I have never developed any software. How do I contribute?
No issues. If you aren’t sure about the development aspects make sure you have some programming knowledge which is necessary in building the project. But make sure are able to convince that you will be able to learn and work on the project, the organisation should not have a problem at all.
11. I am not familiar with Git/Github. What do I do?
This is a major problem because every GSoC applicant is expected to have learned Git/Github or be able to submit his or her code online. There are various online resources, like try.github.io and various Youtube Videos which can help you get started.
12. My Github profile isn't that impressive. Is that a problem?
Not at all. People do not care about your Github Profile but your contributions to Open Source. Got university projects which is related to your project? Well that should work here too. Tell them you are starting with Open Source and how you can help the community with your knowledge.
13. I have more than one organisations in mind. How do I proceed?
No problem, Google allows you to apply to more than one organisation. But make sure you spend good time with each of your proposal and state this fact clearly in your proposals.
14. Can I send more than one proposal to one organisation?
Yes most organisations will consider your application for more than one projects. But again make sure you have enought time to give to each of your proposal. Please note you will only be working on one single project.
15. I haven't contributed to this organisation but I still want to send the proposal, should I send it?
As mentioned in previous answers, it won’t be a problem if you are wanting to apply to a completely new organisation unless your past work and background is supporting you with what you want to do. Tell them how excited you are about working in their organisation, what draws your attention, what changes and features can you bring in the project and how it will help you if you contribute. Make them feel interested in you.