Commit 430ebdaa authored by Jonathan Wilkes's avatar Jonathan Wilkes
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Why does your org want to participate in Google Summer of Code?
Over the three years we've participated in Google Summer of Code we've mentored a growing number of students to complete increasingly ambitious projects.
The Purr Data codebase provides ample opportunity for students to tackle a variety of challenges-- everything from extending a visual programming frontend in HTML5 to working with a stable soft-realtime DSP backend written in C for multiple platforms (which now includes the web). The codebase is modular so new students can quickly onboard in a given area of the code and start work on their project without too much cognitive load.
GSoC also gives our community of volunteer programmers and artists a way to focus deeply on project ideas that would normally be difficult given our busy schedules. In fact, our weekly GSoC communication last year began to feel like a missing piece of our community. This engagement brought up solutions to long-standing design and language issues that we wouldn't otherwise have discussed.
What would your org consider to be a successful summer?
A successful summer will look a lot like last summer-- all students completing their projects, merging many of the features into the main codebase (hopefully all of them this time around), and some of our students continuing to participate in the project after GSoC is over.
For ongoing student participation, we will continue corresponding by email and video chat, and we will work with students on Gitlab as they continue merging their improvements to the codebase.
How many potential mentors have agreed to mentor this year?
1-5
How will you keep mentors engaged with their students?
Last year was the first time we used weekly video chats. One chat included all mentors and students together, and the other was for each individual student and their mentor. These meetings quickly got students comfortable communicating with mentors and with each other. We will continue that plan this summer.
This year we will add a periodic video chat just for the mentors to ensure we can discuss any problems as they come up. We don't want to micromanage our students, so perhaps one such meeting each month or every other week will be best. This will be especially helpful at the beginning of the summer to ensure all students are moving forward and can get a solid commit under their belt in pursuit of their project goals.
Finally, we'll ensure that students can easily initiate impromptu video chats among each other with no mentors present. Our students did this last year and it greatly helped them build a sense of community and encourage each other at crunch time.
How will you help your students stay on schedule to complete their projects?
We will work with the students before GSoC begins to ensure that the project is divided into small, manageable sections. Even given the ambition of some of the projects last summer, splitting them up into bite-sized chunks gave each student a high likelihood of early successes on which they could build. One student was able to move so quickly through an impressive set of new features using this method that we were able to find new features to add along the way.
As part of this process, we try to drill down on the details for the initial part of the project to ensure there are achievable goal posts for clean, self-contained commits in the first and second week. This allows us to identify any issues early and deal with them immediately, while being able to taper off and avoid micro-management as the students settle into their work.
Again, the weekly video chat check-ins help mentors track progress provide feedback, and students get more comfortable presenting their work as they go.
How will you get your students involved in your community during GSoC?
We have a number of issues in Gitlab labeled "good first bug." These are small and self-contained in the codebase-- they provide an easy way for students to make an initial commit. We use in the application process as well as onboarding new project members.
We will also have each student post an introduction on the mailing list. Additionally, a student from last year provided us with information about other communication channels like a web forum, a subreddit, and a Facebook group where users (especially new ones) discuss our software. Since forum interaction tends to be much less intimidating than a mailing list, we will encourage students to post there and possibly on the Facebook group. Both will allow the student to interact with the wider community of artists and musicians who are friendly and helpful.
We'll also leverage video chat-- while face-to-face contact with mentors would obviously be the best way to onboard new community members, we found this to be the next best thing.
How will you keep your students involved with your community after GSoC?
This is tough as students quickly shift their attention back to their studies.
This year we are taking some of the payment from last year's successful GSoC and putting it toward paying one of our students to do some more work related to their successful project from last year. Since the pandemic will likely disrupt travel to tech conferences this year, we will likely do the same for one or more sutdents this time around.
We may be able to incorporate some potential post-GSoC project ideas into our weekly meetings. Mentors can discuss what potential projects would be related to the students' areas of interest. If the student succeeds at the end of the program, we can offer them the opportunity to work on this related project at some point after the end of GSoC.
This also addresses a shortcoming of open source development-- too often it is assumed to happen only for free, at the expense of developer burnout. Paying students who have a good grasp of the codebase will help counter that.
Which years did your org participate in GSoC?
2020, 2019, 2018
How many students did your org accept for 2020?
3
How many of your org's 2020 students have been active in your community in the past 60 days?
2
Student counts per year e.g. 2016: 3/4
2020: 3/3
2019: 2/1
2018: 1/1
What year was your project started?
2015
Where does your source code live?
https://git.purrdata.net/jwilkes/purr-data
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