Posts from February 2014

Next stop: Phnom Penh and FOSSASIA 2014!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

As part of our “10 Things” celebration of the 10th instance of Google Summer of Code, the Google Open Source Outreach Team has been traveling around the world to meet with GSoC students and mentors and many people interested in learning more about the program. On Friday, February 28 Stephanie Taylor and I are excited to be headed to Norton University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for FOSSASIA 2014.
FOSSASIA works together with Open Source projects in Asia and around the world to develop Free and Open Source software for social change. Along with running this annual conference, FOSSASIA brings developers, designers and start ups together while providing infrastructure and organizing code sprints, developer meet-ups and community gatherings. In addition, FOSSASIA has been selected as a Google Summer of Code mentoring organization.
Attendees will have several chances to learn more about Google’s Open Source student programs during the conference, beginning with my keynote on Google Summer of Code on Friday, and a talk on Google Code-in by Stephanie on Saturday followed by a session of lightning talks and Q&A. If you’re a student considering applying to the program when applications open on March 10th, this will be a great chance for you to get your questions answered by students and mentors with first hand experience.

We hope to see you there!

By Cat Allman, Google Open Source Programs Team

Oppia: a tool for interactive learning

"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand." — Confucius

Lots of online education is delivered using video and text. However, opportunities for learners to do things and get feedback on their work are also important — after all, one does not learn to play the piano by watching videos of many virtuoso performances.

We're excited to announce Oppia, a project that aims to make it easy for anyone to create online interactive activities, called 'explorations', that others can learn from. Oppia does this by modeling a mentor who poses questions for the learner to answer. Based on the learner's responses, the mentor decides what question to ask next, what feedback to give, whether to delve deeper, or whether to proceed to something new. You can think of this as a smart feedback system that tries to “teach a person to fish”, instead of simply revealing the correct answer or marking the submitted answer as wrong. If you’d like to get an idea of what these explorations are like, you can try out some examples at

The Oppia learning interface. 

  The Oppia editing interface.

A unique feature of Oppia is that it allows multiple people from around the world to create and collaborate on explorations. They can do this through a web interface — no programming required.

Oppia gathers data on how learners interact with it, making it easy for exploration authors to spot and fix shortcomings in an exploration. They would do this by logging in, finding an answer that many learners are giving but which the system is not responding to adequately, and creating a new learning path for it, based on what they would actually say if they were interacting in-person with the learner. Oppia can then give this feedback to future learners.
A video by Yana Malysheva, one of the developers, explaining how Oppia works.
Oppia knows how to deal with numeric, text, and multiple choice inputs, as well as some more specialized types such as a clickable map and a code evaluator. We've also built an extensible framework that lets developers extend the range of input types that Oppia can understand.

The explorations created on an Oppia server can be embedded in any web page. These embeddings can refer to a particular version, so that further changes to the canonical version of the exploration do not automatically appear in the embedded one. This feature allows learning experiences that have been created using Oppia explorations to retain their integrity over time.

Oppia is built using Python and AngularJS on top of Google App Engine. You can download the source code; we hope you find it useful! Please feel free to contribute suggestions through our issue tracker, or contact us at our developers discussion group. We actively welcome new contributors, so if you would like to help out, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

By Sean Lip, Software Engineer, Google Research

Mentoring Organizations for Google Summer of Code 2014 Announced!

Monday, February 24, 2014

We are pleased to announce the mentoring organizations that have been accepted for this year’s Google Summer of Code program. It was not an easy task, but after reviewing 371 applications, we have chosen 190 open source projects, of which 45 are new to Google Summer of Code. You can visit our Google Summer of Code 2014 program website for a complete list of the accepted orgs.

Over the next 14 days students interested in applying for the Google Summer of Code 2014 program can learn more about the 190 accepted open source projects before the student application period begins on Monday, March 10, 2014 at 19:00 UTC.

Each organization has compiled an “Ideas Page” that students will want to review carefully and consider how they might be able to contribute to the project. Some of the most successful proposals have been completely new ideas submitted by students, so if you don’t see a project on an Ideas Page that appeals to you, don’t be afraid to suggest a new idea to the organization! There are points of contact listed for each organization on their Ideas Page - students can contact the organization directly to discuss a new proposal. All organizations list their preferred method of communication on the organization homepage, available on the Google Summer of Code program website. We strongly encourage students to reach out to the organizations before they apply. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

Congratulations to all of our future mentoring organizations! We look forward to working with all of you during this exciting 10th year of Google Summer of Code!

By Carol Smith, Open Source Team

Google Summer of Code Wrap-up: Mifos

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Another new organization for Google Summer of Code 2013 was Mifos, a diverse community of microfinance institutions, technology professionals, business people, volunteers, and contributors. Today’s guest post comes from Mifos Community Manager, Edward Cable.
I'm proud to call our four student contributors, affectionately known as the A Team, graduates of the 2013 Google Summer of Code program. The three months of coding flew by in an instant and I marvel at the amazing work our students made across all areas of the platform. In addition to the dedicated efforts of our students, a big thanks must go to our team of mentors who guided our students on their journey throughout the summer. One mentor, Michael Vorburger, put this summer in perspective:
"How amazing is it that GSoC gets us four students — from Germany, China, Sri Lanka and India, coached by mentors from India, Ghana, and, Switzerland — to collaborate purely in cyberspace together on adding features to a microfinance platform... the world truly is flat."
Below is a list of projects our students worked on:
  • Anuruddha Premalal completed two projects — sr-side pagination and distributed caching, both of which have been shipped in our public releases with the caching being delivered in our 1.10.0 Release.
  • Yanna Wu’s  XBRL integration work is merged into the master branch and can be tried out on our demo server under the reports menu. You can follow her documentation as a guide. This can be used straightaway for integration with MIX Market and also sets us on the right path for integrating with other centralized reporting tools.
  • Andreas Weigel’s user-generated document module with mail-merge and WYSIWYG functionality has also been merged into the master branch; final documentation is on the wiki. Once a few more sample templates are complete, this will be shipped as our admin documents module; we'll also be re-using the templating engine as a major component of our SMS notifications module.
  • We are packaging up Avik Ganguly’s Excel-based import tool for an upcoming release; this tool is already being used for a live migration of data for Grameen Koota's individual lending operations.
Looking back on our first Google Summer of Code, we knew from the start that we had an awesome group of students that would be joining Mifos. Our community is already enjoying the benefits of their contributions and our students have continued on as active members of the community. Most importantly this is only just the beginning of their time with Mifos. We look forward to years of contributions and transforming them into future mentors for GSoC!
By Edward Cable, Mifos Community Manager

Public Lab and Google Summer of Code: Sky Camera,, and spectral database matching

Friday, February 14, 2014

Over the last few months, we have been featuring wrap up posts from veteran Google Summer of Code 2013 organizations. We’d now like to spend the next few weeks highlighting some of the orgs who participated in their first GSoC. Today’s wrap up comes from the org admin at Public Lab, a community where you can “learn how to investigate environmental concerns.”


Our first year in the GSoC program went well; with three students, we finished the summer with three exciting new projects, and our user community is already diving in and starting to use them.

Sky Camera

Mohit Meena (mentor: Chris Fastie) tackled a project to develop a new Android app which turns a cheap Android phone into a timelapse camera for use in turbulent conditions. For example, while suspended from a balloon or kite and taking aerial photographs. This app is designed to support the open source mapmaking toolchain of the Public Lab Balloon Mapping Kit and the online mapmaking tool Mohit developed two versions for newer 4.x devices and older 2.3.x phones (which are probably more likely to end up tied to a balloon at 1500 feet). The app also sends a small preview image and a set of GPS coordinates to an email address you specify.  Find out more and install the app here:  

Our second student, Bharat Bhustan (mentor: Don Blair) contributed to a highly collaborative effort to develop post-processing image compositing tools for Public Lab's open hardware project called the Infragram — a multispectral camera. The basic web-based conversion software fell into place quite quickly, but an exploratory branch of the project called Infragram Sandbox yielded some really interesting results. The Sandbox tool allows for compositing infrared/visible images with simple math expressions (which we're calling "infragrammar") which let you mix new images using terms for red, green, and blue (R,G,B) input channels. It's already become a powerful new way to do image manipulations for plant analysis, all in the browser. You can read more about this interface and watch an intro video here.

                       Spectral Database Matching

Our third student, Sreyanth Chary (mentor: Jeff Warren), tackled one of the hardest projects this summer — that of finding the most similar spectrum to any given spectrum in Public Lab's open spectral library at We wanted an optimized way to find the best matches from amongst the 10,000+ (and growing) open source spectra. While there were many ways to approach the problem, after seeking input from our open spectrometry discussion list, Sreyanth committed to one approach and did a great job, developing a technique that returns a ranked list of similar data in less than a second of database searching. He then ported the code from Python to Ruby once he'd proved his technique. Sreyanth’s documentation was extremely clear and well illustrated. 

Our students faced some unique challenges in integrating open source code with prototype DIY open hardware, and engaging with a community with perhaps more hardware hackers than software hackers. We're very happy with the results and hope to have the opportunity again! Thanks to all our super students and mentors!

By Jeffrey Warren,

Google Code-in 2013: Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In January, Google Code-in, our contest introducing 13-17 year olds to open source software development, finished up with really exciting results.

We had 337 students from 46 countries complete an astounding 2,113 tasks in the seven week contest. Students worked with 10 open source organizations on coding, documentation, training, user interface, research, outreach tasks, and quality assurance tasks. 60.2% of students completed at least three tasks in the contest.

The countries with the most students completing tasks are shown in the pie chart below:

This year there were six countries who for the first time had students complete tasks in Google Code-in:  Bangladesh, Ecuador, Greece, Hong Kong, Lebanon and Pakistan.

Pre-university/high schools
The five schools with the most students completing tasks in Google Code-in 2013 are:
  • Dunman High School in Singapore took the top spot this year with 20 students participating in this year’s contest, up from 13 in 2012.
  • Technical School Electronic Systems (associated with Technical University- Sofia) in Bulgaria was in the top five for the 4th year in a row with 18 students.
  • Sacred Heart Convent Sr. Sec. School, Jagadhri - India - 7
  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology - Virginia, USA - 5
  • Freehold High School - New Jersey, USA  - 4

Age of Students
The graph below depicts the ages of the students participating in this year’s contest.

There were 194 dedicated mentors from 40 countries guiding students throughout the contest. This year we had mentors from a few new countries including Egypt, Jamaica and Liberia.

More interesting stats
  • 67 students participated in at least one previous Google Code-in contest
  • 9.5% of the students are female
  • We had 11 grand prize winners this year range that were 15 or younger at the start of the contest
  • Wikimedia and Apertium both had a whopping 273 tasks completed by students

A huge thank you to all of the students, mentors and organization administrators who made Google Code-in 2013 a success! And thank you to all the parents and teachers who encouraged students to learn more about open source software development.

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs Office

A Decade of Google Summer of Code Celebration in Sri Lanka

Friday, February 7, 2014

This post comes to us straight from Sri Lanka courtesy of our guest writer, Lali Devamanthri. The Google Open Source Programs team recently held an event at The University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka - a university which has had the most Google Summer of Code students for an impressive 7 years in a row. Read more about the event below.

Google Summer of Code, a program that pumps new blood into the open source world, is celebrating its 10th instance this year. Behind-the-curtain faces who initiate this unique program have been visiting the countries with strong participation numbers in the program.

As a result, a team from Google’s Open Source Programs Office visited University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka on January 23, 2014. Since the program’s inception, 203 students from University of Moratuwa have participated, making it the highest number of students from a single university in the world. In total, there have been 265 students selected for the program over the last 9 years from all over Sri Lanka.

Over 320 people attended the event including past participants and mentors, open source luminaries, and prospective students. The event started by Kandyan dancers leading the way into the auditorium followed by the lighting of the traditional oil lamp.

After a warm welcome to all the invitees, the chief guest of the occasion, Hon. Vice Chancellor prof Ananda Jayawardena from University of Moratuwa spoke about the impact of open source software and how GSoC has worked as a driving force in the past several years. The Hon. VC also thanked all GSoC participants for bringing prestige to the University of Moratuwa.

Chris DiBona, Director of Social Impact and Open Source at Google, then spoke about how Google Summer of Code started, and expressed his excitement at the high participation rate from a small country like Sri Lanka. He concluded his talk with ideas about how to influence the younger generation to start participating in open source development. Two other Googlers from the Open Source team, Stephanie Taylor and Mary Radomile, talked about the steps involved in applying to this year’s program and the “10 things” GSoC initiative and described how the program will be enhanced to celebrate a decade of GSoC. One of these enhancements includes a 10% raise in the student stipend to 5500 USD!  Google Code-in (GCI), an open source coding contest for 13-17 year old students, was also introduced to the audience.

As the final invited guest speaker, Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana spoke to the audience about the history of IT challenges in Sri Lanka and how open source communities have taken on a major role in solving them. He reminded GSoC participants to carry on contributing to the open source community past the end of the program and into their everyday lives.
Dr. Sanjiva Weerawarana
The event concluded with the exchange of gifts, including a plaque presented by Google to the University of Moratuwa celebrating it’s exceptional participation rates in Google Summer of Code these past nine years. Guests were also treated to modern Raga music, local cultural entertainment, refreshments, and informal discussion between guests and students.
University of Moratuwa students enchanting the crowd with Raga music
The event successfully raised the awareness of GSoC and open source development. Attendees were highly motivated by the event and I’m sure there will be more and more Sri Lankan faces in both Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in in the years to come!

By Lali Devamanthri, GSoC 2012 Fedora student and GCI 2012 Fedora Mentor

Mentoring Organization Applications Now Being Accepted for Google Summer of Code 2014!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Interested in finding bright, enthusiastic new contributors to your open source project? Apply to be a mentoring organization in the Google Summer of Code program! The organization application period is now open.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Google Summer of Code is a program designed to pair university students from around the world with mentors at open source projects in such varied fields as academic research, language translations, content management systems, games, and operating systems. Since 2005, over 7,500 students from more than 100 countries have completed the Google Summer of Code program with the support of over 440 mentoring organizations. Students gain exposure to real-world software development while earning a stipend for their work and an opportunity to explore areas related to their academic pursuits, by “flipping bits, not burgers” during their school break. In return, mentoring organizations have the opportunity to identify and attract new developers to their projects as these students often continue their work with the organizations after Google Summer of Code concludes.

To celebrate our 10th anniversary this year we will accept 10 more organizations that we ever have before -- that's 190 organizations. We hope we also get a record number of applicants!

The deadline for applying to be a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code is Friday, February 14 at 19:00 UTC (11am PST). The list of accepted organizations will be posted on the Google Summer of Code site on Monday, February 24th. Students will then have two weeks to reach out to the accepted organizations to discuss their project ideas before we begin accepting student applications on March 10th.

Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more details on the program. For more information you can check out the Mentor Manual, timeline and join the discussion group. You can also check out the Melange Manual for more information on using the program website. Good luck to all of our mentoring organization applicants!

By Carol Smith, Open Source Team