Interview: Puneet Kala - GSoC Team
Google Summer of Code is a global program focused on bringing more student developers into open source software development. Students work with an open source organization on a 3 month programming project during their break from school. This year, the Joomla Project is once again present and JCM talked to Puneet Kala, who is leading the group through this exciting moment.
What is the Google Summer of Code?
Google Summer of Code is a global program run completely online, an initiative started by Google back in 2005. GSoC Program is designed and sponsored by Google. Goal of the program is to encourage college students of any age in contributing to Free Open Source Software (FOSS) projects.
How does GSoC work?
To understand how the program works, it is important to take a look at the timeline of the program published by Google.
The program officially starts every year around February time frame when Google requests all interested Open Source organizations to submit applications to participate in the program.
Google analyzes all applications and announces the results on their program website. This list is helpful for college students so that they can take a look at the organizations that have made it to the program and are eligible for having GSoC projects in the summer.
In parallel with this period, we also collect ideas from the community and start building a team of mentors who will guide students interested in working on them. Based on a criteria, some of the ideas are selected and make it to Joomla's GSoC Project Ideas.
Based on their skill sets, students start interacting with GSoC Organziation teams and show their interest in projects that they would like to work. All the information related to Ideas, application template, student selection criteria, mailing lists etc. are made available to them on Joomla's GSoC Home Wiki.
Then students submit their application to work on a particular project of their interest. Organizations evaluate the applications and choose the best candidate.
Google Assigns a fixed number of slots to every organization, where one slot is equal to one student. This year Joomla was given 6 project slots, so we had to select 6 best projects & candidates from all the 78 student submissions for our 15 project ideas.
After the results are announced then begins a period of 3-4 months where the job of the selected student is to develop the feature as suggested in the project idea. Google pays these students a reasonable amount for their work during the summer.
Features developed during the summer help to enhance Joomla. Mentors help students achieve the goal. It is a very exciting period for both the students as well as the mentors.
In the end, it is expected that students were able to learn valuable skills like working with teams, technical knowledge, communication, planning, open source contribution, culture of our organization.
What are the expectations of the Joomla Project to be part of GSoC?
We have seen some great projects done as part of GSoC which have made Joomla users happy and improved the software.
Some of the projects have ended up being in the list of key features of our major releases. Projects like new Template Manager, including JQuery Libraries, Addition of Microdata have really helped developers and users across the world.
Overall I feel that ROI - Return On Investment - on GSoC is very high for Joomla Project, some of the talented college students who work with us during summers gradually become key players in different working groups for Joomla, taking up leadership roles in different teams and help the project in the long run.
I was a student back in 2013 :)
How did Joomla started participating in GSoC?
I think we have a very long history with GSoC Program. I did some research this year while preparing the organization's application and found out that we have been participating in GSoC since the first year back in 2005.
Only twice we have not been able to make it to the final list of accepted organizations: in 2010 and 2015. In 2011 we did not apply to participate in the program, so this is our 9th participation with GSoC.
What is your role in the GSoC Team?
My role is to take care of team management, Planning. As leader of the team, my job is to oversee the progress of the organization and its students throughout the program.
So far, I have been involved in building the team, submitting applications, finalizing projects, preparing documents and coordinating with Google to get answers to queries. I have talked to a lot of volunteers during the previous three months and it has been a great experience for me. I am enjoying my work :)
This is my first year as GSoC Team lead, I have learnt a lot from Chad Windnagle, who has been a great help to us. I am lucky that I got resource like Ana Barcellos, who is the assistant team lead for GSoC and I also have a wonderful team of mentors who consistently help me. I am thankful to the team :) and the support from PLT has made my job little easier.
What are the goals of the GSoC Team?
Our main Goal is to have a successful 2016 for Joomla GSoC. We have 6 projects this year and we want all of them to get completed on time with positive feedback. We also plan to get the students engaged with the community for a longer run and make them part of our Joomla family, so that they keep on contributing and helping the project :)
What is your advice to students willing to join the Joomla GSoC Team?
Next year I suggest students to start participating in Joomla's GSoC mailing lists and getting involved with the community as soon as possible. It is important that students should have a clear understanding of the Joomla Project and GSoC Ideas.
Students could start contributing by fixing bugs, help in improving documentation, help other fellow aspirants and more. They should learn about Joomla and our contribution process, have good interaction with the GSoC team when they submit their proposal. All of these things add up to the final decision of choosing a student.
We at the Joomla Community Magazine wish the Joomla Google Summer of Code Team the best of luck and thank you for all the contribution that is given to the Project.
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