Google Code-in 2014 wrap up with FOSSASIA

Friday, April 3, 2015

Although best known for their namesake conference, FOSSASIA also acts as an umbrella organization which supports development of open source software linked to Asia or Asian developers. They participated in Google Code-in 2014 and shared this report with us.

2014 marked FOSSASIA’s first year participating in Google Code-in (GCI) as a mentoring organization, and what a splash we made! Students completed 587 tasks with us, the most of any organization in this year’s program. These bite-sized tasks gave young students ages 13 to 17 an opportunity to participate in open source development with the help of mentors. A total of 174 students completed at least one task with us -- they wrote code, designed artwork, tested software, and had a lot of fun.

GCI is a contest and each mentoring organization chooses two Grand Prize winners. Ours were Namanyay Goel and Samarjeet Singh. They’ll travel all-expenses-paid with a parent or guardian to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. We also had three finalists who deserve a hearty congratulations: Alvis Wong, Amr Ramadan, and Tymon Radzik. We are thankful for your contributions.

Students contributed to the FOSSASIA website along with open source projects like the ExpEYES tool for at-home science experiments, the sup console-based email client, the TiddlySpace idea-organizer, and the p5.js drawing library. This wide variety of opportunities was possible thanks to the efforts of our 24 mentors who found time between their other obligations to help students. Thank you, mentors!

Usually, novice contributors to a project face a significant barrier to entry. There are coding conventions to follow, guidelines for combining or breaking up multiple commits, and more that can be specific to a project. Such requirements help keep the codebase healthy and consistent, but their value isn’t apparent to beginners who have already struggled to produce a contribution and just want to see it integrated. To reduce the discouragement GCI students would face, we decided to merge students’ first pull requests if they get the job done, even if they don’t follow our usual practices. Later, students could accept a task which teaches them about our standards for contributions, giving them a chance to clone and rebase a sample repo so that it follows the rules. Students who completed this task and continued working with us understood the terminology and were able to apply our feedback to their later commits without the usual frustration.

We had a fantastic time participating in GCI and would like to thank all the students who took part in the contest. We’re thrilled to see some of them still hanging around in our community and wish them all an exciting and fruitful future.

By Aruna Herath, FOSSASIA mentor