Related link: http://code.google.com/summerofcode.html
Google wants more open source developers in the world. So do organizations such as The Perl Foundation, The Python Software Foundation, and The Apache Foundation. Today, Google has announced the Summer of Code, a program to encourage students to produce open source software. I spoke with Chris DiBona about the project.
The structure is simple. Google has set aside money to fund a few hundred projects. Google has also identified several open source organizations to identify potential projects, to evaluate and accept project proposals, and to mentor the new developers to complete the projects.
For example, the Perl Foundation has asked a few community members for project ideas that a college student could complete in a couple of months. Interested students can contact TPF for that list and should submit applications. TPF will then accept several applications.
From there, Google will send $500 for each participant to the sponsoring organization and $500 to each participant. The students have the summer to complete the project to the organization’s satisfaction (with the organization’s guidance) . If the student completes the project, Google will send him or her another check for $4000.
The organization is very fluid and organic, by design. Though Google has put up the money, it’s up to the various organizations to decide how to handle things. (Google is a participating organization as well, but Chris told me that they plan to oversee their participants as if they were any other organization.)
This is good for Google, in that it’s a nice way to encourage more open source, as well as a good way to donate to the community. This is good for organizations, as they receive some attention, some money, and the opportunity to recruit new developers to attack some necessary projects. This is also good for students, as it’s a chance to earn money actually writing code instead of waiting tables, running kiosks in the mall, or mowing lawns.
There are some risks. Even with the promise of financial remuneration, some projects will go uncompleted. Further, it’s up to the organizations to ensure that the project quality meets their guidelines. Fortunately, part of the rules require that the code fall under an OSI-approved license, with hosting on a site such as SourceForge. The sponsoring organization receives the $500 no matter what happens though.
What if your organization isn’t on the site? You still have a week or so to contact Google and sign up. The more, the merrier. (Where’s the Ruby foundation, for example?)
This is a great idea and it can be good for everyone involved. If you’re a student and developer looking for a project to tackle, a community to help, and a chance to earn some money (and I do mean earn), consider applying. (If you’re a Perl hacker who knows a little C and XS — or wants to learn — and who wants to make installing XS libraries obsolete, let me know. I have a project that you might really like.)
Where was this when I was in school?