The Parrot Foundation Reflects on Google Code-in

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A few of the folks at The Parrot Foundation, one of the mentoring organizations for Google Code-in this year, have offered their assessment of the Google Code-in program. They discuss the wonderful students they worked with over seven busy weeks this winter along with a note to the students that participated in the Google Code-in below.

At first, I was skeptical about whether Parrot should be part of Google Code-in 2010. I was worried that it would be impossible to create small doable tasks for high-school students related to Parrot, and whether it would take up too much developer time to get students up to speed.

Fortunately, I was completely wrong. I was blown away by the caliber of the students that did Parrot-related tasks. They actually rivaled the quality of Google Summer of Code students. Since Google Code-in focused more on mentorship and less on getting a summer stipend, I think it attracted different kinds of students.

Commits to the Parrot Github repo *exploded* during Google Code-in, they almost buried us in pull requests (which isn't a bad thing!) I couldn't believe that high school students were fixing bugs in our cryptography libraries, or improving integration with GDB or refactoring Parrot internals. And to top it off, Google Code-in students translated our README to at least five new languages! Google Code-in literally made the top high school students in the world crawl out of the woodwork.

Not to mention that in the time I have been a Parrot Core Developer, I have never seen such an increase in participation on our IRC channel. Google Code-in added more new faces to our community in a few months than we usually see in a year.

I highly recommend Google Code-in to any organization that is trying to draw in new people. I don't know if anything else can compete with it.

Jonathan “Duke” Leto, Organization Administrator for Parrot Foundation


The most fascinating thing about the 2010-11 Google Code-in for me was the fact that during the peak of the competition we would have four or five Google Code-in students conversing with each other on the Parrot Project's IRC channel, #parrot. These students lived in at least four different countries (U.S., Brazil, France, New Zealand). There were many hours late at night (U.S. time) when all the regular Parrot developers had gone to bed -- but the Google Code-in students kept chatting and hacking away! If only we could harness that energy year-round!

Jim Keenan, Parrot Foundation Mentor


This is a cross-post of part of a blog from the Parrot Foundation directed to the Google Code-in students that participated on their project. For the complete post please click here.

When we Parrot developers first decided that Parrot would be participating in the Google Code-in program, I was quite skeptical. Most of our initial tasks were for translations and many didn't seem to me like they'd help Parrot as a project, especially since Google Code-in was a new (and untested) initiative. If you'd asked me what I though before the start of Google Code-in, I'd say that I had low expectations but would be glad if proven wrong.

I'm glad to say that the amount and quality of the contributions we've received from Google Code-in students has proven me very wrong. We've had a few low-quality results, but the large majority have been of excellent quality. Over the course of Google Code-in, we've added thousands of lines of tests and code, squashed lots of bugs and had several reported, and have increased our test coverage by about 3.5%, all of which represents a great deal of work for a large project like Parrot. As Google Code-in progressed, we've even been able to bump up the difficulty of our "difficult"-rated tasks substantially to challenge our most ambitious students. Parrot is much better off because of the efforts of all of you.

I hope to see all of you continue to make contributions to Parrot after the end of Google Code-in. Your incentives will be different from now on, but they'll also become much more exciting. If you're interested and don't know quite what you want to do, we'll always try to help you find something awesome to keep you busy. Please stick around and keep on hacking!

Christoph Otto, Architect, Parrot VM


Thank you Parrot Foundation and all of our other mentoring organizations and the amazing students for making Google Code-in a huge success!

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs Office