Endless Summer of Code ... Google Style

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

While many students might be spending their summers backpacking around Europe, working at an investment bank, or catching up on their studies, our Google Summer of Code™  2009 students Udai Gupta and Johan Hilding were helping to transform technology in the fight against global poverty through their work with the Grameen Foundation, a global organization working to end poverty through microfinance and other initiatives to strengthen local business and social institutions. Udai and Johan recently concluded their projects with the Mifos Initiative, an Open Source information technology platform built by the Grameen Foundation to help microfinance institutions more effectively deliver financial services to the poor.  Sponsored and provided a stipend by Google, they spent their entire summer making stellar contributions to advance testing and quality assurance in the Mifos platform, improving the quality of our software for our customers and making it easier for developers around the world to contribute code to our platform.

Udai, a recent Bachelor’s of Technology recipient from the LNM Institute of Information Technology India and Johan, a second year-student attending the Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH)  in Stockholm, Sweden, both applied to the Mifos Initiative to learn about testing, agile development, and pair programming all while helping to deliver a flexible technology solution to the microfinance industry.  Lead by their mentors, Jeff Brewster from the Grameen Technology Center in Seattle, Washington, USA and Adam Monsen, working remotely out of Minnesota, they collaborated across the globe with our entire community of microfinance practitioners and technology professionals.  

With their work stretching across so many time zones and physical and cultural borders, at times it was challenging for Johan and Udai to work while being so far away.  Technology like Google Groups, IRC, Skype, and TokBox were instrumental in bridging the communication divide; yet, it was the steadfast commitment and passion to work late into the night that made successful collaboration possible.  

Through Google’s commitment to the Open Source community, the Grameen Foundation has been able to utilize Udai and Johan's skills to make enormous contributions to the Mifos Initiative.  Udai’s major accomplishments throughout the summer included standardizing the naming conventions of our unit and integration tests, making these tests run independently of one another and optimizing the MySQL database to improve overall performance of these tests. His efforts helped lay the foundation for greater modularity in Mifos which will allow our community to build new functionality more effectively, enabling microfinance institutions to release new products and pioneer new technologies like mobile banking to serve the poor.  

Udai Gupta

At the same time, Johan helped to triple the number of acceptance tests in Mifos, allowing us to do more frequent releases with the assurance that no code is breaking. His improvements to the acceptance test infrastructure from making drop-down boxes language independent, to making tests run in different locales are a huge value-add to our international customer base. His work will be utilized significantly as the Mifos team delivers an Arabic version of Mifos in their upcoming release.  

Johan Hilding

With Google Summer of Code 2009 now complete, Johan, like the majority of the more than 1000 students who contributed to one of 150 different projects, will be returning to his studies at KTH in Sweden.  However, for Udai this marks the beginning of a new path for him as he will be moving to Bangalore, India for the next 12 months to continue contributing to Mifos and supporting one of its leading customers, Grameen Koota.  The Grameen Foundation hopes to participate in future instances of Google Summer of Code and we invited all folks interested to join our community at You too can help to change poverty one line of code at a time!