Posts from December 2014

In the thick of things with Google Code-in

Friday, December 26, 2014

Over the past three and a half weeks, teenagers from over 50 countries have been busy completing tasks in the Google Code-in 2014 (GCI) contest.  511 students have already successfully completed 1,985 tasks with the 12 open source organizations mentoring students this year!

Some of the tasks students have completed include: automating and optimizing social media accounts, writing test suites, improving mobile UI, designing website landing pages, creating training slides, working on internationalization efforts and fixing and finding bugs in the organizations’ software.

2,391 students from 86 countries have already registered for the contest. A big welcome to the students from the 21 countries participating for the first time in GCI: American Samoa, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Brunei, Burma, Chile, Ethiopia, Gambia, Georgia, Guatemala, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, and Taiwan! We look forward to seeing many of these students completing tasks over the next few weeks.

The countries with the most students completing tasks so far are:
United States - 141
India - 113
Bulgaria - 44
Singapore - 19
United Kingdom - 19

Students, there is still plenty of time to get involved with Google Code-in to earn certificates of completion and a Google Code-in 2014 t-shirt. New tasks are being added daily to the contest site so if you don’t see something that grabs your interest today, check back again every couple of days. Currently over 1,500 tasks are open for students to choose from.

The last day to register for the contest and claim a task is Sunday, January 18, 2015 with all work being due on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 9:00 am PT.

Thank you to all of the mentors and organization administrators who have volunteered to help students during the seven week contest. We couldn’t do this without all of their hard work and dedication to teaching students about open source software development.

Good luck to all of the students participating this year!

By Stephanie Taylor, Google Code-in Program Manager

Google Summer of Code Wrap up:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Today’s Google Summer of Code (GSoC) wrap up comes from Sean McGregor at the Privly Foundation, an organization dedicated to enabling private social communication for technical and non-technical users alike.


The Privly Foundation develops the Project: a web privacy stack for social media. The privacy stack enables users to share content through social media while maintaining the confidentiality of their communications. In 2014, the Foundation mentored five students through Google Summer of Code (GSoC). Two highlights were the projects’ work on user experience (UX) and mobile applications.

Andrei-Vlad Fulgeanu: Privacy UX

One goal of the Privly Foundation is to enable non-technical users to benefit from privacy software. Since Open Source development naturally fosters systems preferred by developers, UX for the non-technical user is often an afterthought. Addressing the UX problem was Vlad's project and passion. He began his work with mentor and UX researcher, Jen Davidson, by performing a "cognitive walkthrough" that would drive his implementation plan. Informed by the UX methods, he contributed a set of improvements including a re-designed anti-spoofing glyph, a new in-context posting button, a redesign and renaming of the "History" application, and several bug fixes. Vlad has continued working on after the close of GSoC and has even won a Romanian Open Source coding competition through his contributions.

Ivan Metla and Gitanshu Sardana: Mobile Capabilities

We had two students working on the Android version of the Project. Ivan Metla worked on developing an internal API which enables developers to easily drop in more content sources such as email providers, social networks, and timeline-based sources into the application. This required changes to the way content is displayed to provide a UX consistent with the context that content is scraped from. The application now supports a thread based structure for Facebook messages and a timeline based structure for Twitter content. Ivan also
worked on porting the UI of the JavaScript applications for the mobile platform thereby displaying controls specific to the mobile users.

Gitanshu Sardana worked on a major overhaul of the application UI. The old "Activity"-based structure was replaced with a "Fragments"-based layout which enabled better UI transitions.  


He then helped add an action bar for access to application settings and improved session management, along with a navigation drawer providing the users with easier access to reading and generating new content. He also worked on adding experimental support for reading protected content from Gmail that resulted in a new threaded view for email content. Finally, he added the Index application (now called "History") to the mobile application's navigation drawer.

Lessons Learned

GSoC organizations with user-facing functionality should note the power of UX methods like cognitive walkthroughs and think alouds as a means of placing prospective students in the "I can make this better" mindset. A quick think-aloud in addition to coding tasks can establish the prospective student's ability to communicate effectively and think critically about the project they are proposing.

It was a pleasure working with the GSoC students in 2014 and we are very grateful for the opportunity to bring together a larger community developing privacy on the web!

By Sean McGregor, Privly Foundation Mentor

Google Summer of Code Meetup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Monday, December 15, 2014

Earlier this year, Hu Yuhuang participated as a student in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2014. He recently hosted a meetup at University of Malaya to share his experiences and encourage other students to participate in GSoC 2015. (Student applications will open on March 16th, 2015.) Below, he discusses the local community meetup.


About two weeks after I officially finished my GSoC 2014 journey, I received an email announcing Google Summer of Code in 2015. I immediately forwarded this email to two friends of mine, Dr. Chee Sun Liew and fellow student Chin Poh Leong, and told them I would like to host a meetup for spreading this news. After a discussion, we decided the date (November the 28th, the last Friday of the month) and got support from our school.

We started to promote this meetup about three weeks before the event date. We used a Google Form for taking registration. By the eve of the meetup, we had received 140 online registrations among 9 local universities. The students’ enthusiasm exceeded our expectations.

On November 28th, 2014, Puzzles (a programming community that my friends and I founded) hosted the meetup at University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We ultimately had 76 attendees from 4 local universities. We were pleasantly surprised that UTM, a local university, sent over 30 students to join this meetup. They travelled 6 hours from Johor, the very south end of Malaysia.

The meetup kicked off with Dr. Liew’s greeting speech. Afterward, I followed up with a briefing about GSoC 2015. I shared my previous experience of writing an application, getting in touch with organizations, and many details from my work over the previous summer. They asked me many practical questions about how and why they should join this program. The meetup was wrapped up with a lot of smiling and photos. Many students left us their contact information so they can stay tuned for further news and ask more questions in the future.


I’d like to thank everyone who helped me with this meetup; I couldn’t have done it without their help. Google Summer of Code is one of the best things to happen during my undergraduate life and I hope to see many talented Malaysian students participate in GSoC 2015.

By Hu Yuhuang, with photos by Yap Yee King

Google Summer of Code Wrap up: OpenKeychain

Friday, December 12, 2014

Today’s Google Summer of Code wrap up comes from Dominik Schürmann at OpenKeychain, a project helping Android users communicate securely.
OpenKeychain helps you communicate more privately and securely. It uses high-quality modern encryption to ensure that your messages can be read only by the people you send them to, others can send you messages that only you can read, and these messages can be digitally signed so the people getting them are sure who sent them. OpenKeychain is based on the well established OpenPGP standard making encryption compatible across your devices and operating systems.

This was OpenKeychain’s first year participating in the Google Summer of Code program. We received two student slots, which we gratefully assigned to the best applicants. Their work was released as part of OpenKeychain 2.8.
Vincent Breitmoser worked on the cryptographic backend of OpenKeychain which is based on the low-level library Bouncy Castle. He rewrote almost all methods related to key operations and changed the way results are handled to allow a user-readable log of what actually has been processed. He also made the methods testable by dividing the backend into methods requiring Android and Java-only methods. Java-only crypto operations are now tested automatically using Travis CI.

mar-v-in worked on better integration of OpenKeychain into the Android OS, including better support for file encryption/decryption using Android 4.4 features. Now encrypting multiple files is possible using the Storage Access Framework. He also worked on an integration with Android's contact application by connecting contacts to keys in OpenKeychain by using email addresses as identifiers.

By Dominik Schürmann, Organization Administrator, OpenKeychain

Google Summer of Code Wrap up: 52°North

Friday, December 5, 2014

Today’s Google Summer of Code wrap up comes to us from Daniel Nüst at 52°North, an international network of partners fostering innovation in Geoinformatics R&D.
The open source software initiative 52°North completed its third year in a row as a Google Summer of Code (GSoC) mentoring organization. We were pleased to work with four students this summer. 52°North’s overall goals for the projects were to extend software with strategically promising features and to improve usability of the software.

Dushyant Sabharwal implemented a graphical user interface and permissions editor - the Time Series Protector – for administrators in his project “Access Control UI For SOS Servers“. This permissions editor regulates permission to access data via a Sensor Observation Service (SOS). An administrator can now define permissions for particular user roles which control how (operation granularity) the user can access which data (parameter granularity). The 52°North Security API handles access enforcement.

In his “ILWIS mobile app“, Bouke Pieter Ottow extended the ILWIS framework for geodata capture with a mobile application. The Gatherer app enables users to collect spatial data, store it on a remote server (while in the field or using a local template and cache) and access and visualize spatial background data, such as base maps, historic measurements or administrative maps.

Rahul Raja’s project “enviroCar UX Design“ extended the existing open source enviroCar Android application. The result is a more user-friendly app. He polished up the appearance, added various parameters and localization features, and enhanced the profile page to include track information, stats and graphs.

Simona Badoiu tackled the integration of Rasdaman as a data storage backend to the 52°North Sensor Observation Service (SOS) implementation. The “Sensor Data Access for Rasdaman“ is a complex and very challenging project, which required a good understanding of three different projects: Rasdaman, ASQLDB, and HSQLDB. Simona was able to provide a first prototype of the integration of array data and the Sensor Web data retrieval service SOS.

By Daniel Nüst, 52°North Organization Administrator and Mentor

3, 2, 1 Code-in: Inviting teens to contribute to open source

Monday, December 1, 2014

Code-in 2014 logo

We believe that the key to getting students excited about computer science is to give them opportunities at ever younger ages to explore their creativity with computer science. That’s why we’re running the Google Code-in contest again this year, and today’s the day students can go to the contest site, register and start looking for tasks that interest them.

Ignacio Rodriguez was just 10 years old when he became curious about Sugar, the open source learning platform introduced nationally to students in Uruguay when he was in elementary school. With the encouragement of his teacher, Ignacio started asking questions of the developers writing and maintaining the code and he started playing around with things, a great way to learn to code. When he turned 14 he entered the Google Code-in contest completing tasks that included writing two new web services for Sugar and he created four new Sugar activities. He even continued to mentor other students throughout the contest period.  His enthusiasm for coding and making the software even better for future users earned him a spot as a 2013 Grand Prize Winner.

Ignacio is one of the 1,575 students from 78 countries that have participated in Google Code-in since 2010. We are encouraging 13-17 year old students to explore the many varied ways they can contribute to open source software development through the Google Code-in contest. Because open source is a collaborative effort, the contest is designed as a streamlined entry point for students into software development by having mentors assigned to each task that a student works on during the contest. Students don’t have to be coders to participate; as with any software project, there are many ways to contribute to the project.  Students will be able to choose from documentation, outreach, research, training, user interface and quality assurance tasks in addition to coding tasks.

This year, students can choose tasks created by 12 open source organizations working on
disaster relief, content management, desktop environments, gaming, medical record systems for developing countries, 3D solid modeling computer-aided design and operating systems to name a few.  

For more information on the contest, please visit the contest site where you can find the timeline, Frequently Asked Questions and information on each of the open source projects students can work with during the seven week contest.

Good luck students!

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs