Google Summer of Code 2016 wrap-up: CloudCV

Monday, February 6, 2017

This guest post is part of our ongoing series of posts from the students, mentors and organization administrators who participated in Google Summer of Code (GSoC), a program which gets university students contributing to open source software.

Google Summer of Code 2016 was a memorable one for CloudCV. Despite being a relatively “young” organization (this is just our second year as a mentor organization), there were many excellent applicants who put a tremendous amount of effort into their proposals and ramp-up tasks. It was difficult to choose!

CloudCV began in the summer of 2014 as a research project within the Machine Learning and Perception Lab at Virginia Tech, with the ambitious goal of democratizing computer vision and machine learning. We’re run exclusively by students and are working to enable developers, researchers, and fellow students to leverage artificial intelligence technology as a service and to share state of the art algorithms with the research community.

In line with this goal, we decided to build two tools that cater to computer vision researchers and hobbyists alike: CloudCV-fy your code and CloudCV-IDE. Though building two new platforms from the ground up was going to be challenging, our students’ motivation was overwhelming and their performance surpassed all expectations. We even demonstrated their work at CVPR 2016, a top-tier computer vision conference!


A recurring use case for computer vision researchers, and many others, is to build a web-based demo and REST API to demonstrate the capabilities of their creations to the world. But web development involves writing hundred of lines of additional code across multiple languages (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc), which takes time away from research.

Our first student, Ashish Chaudhary, took on this problem by building CloudCV-fy. Over many iterations of design and development, Ashish delivered a tool that allows a user to simply write lightweight wrappers around their machine learning model/library and be done. CloudCV-fy automatically builds web-based interactive demos for them -- no need to tinker with HTML, CSS or JavaScript. Code to demo. Done.

The demo can be hosted on our servers, the user’s own server or any third party cloud service. As a result of this, researchers can focus on what they do best: designing and training models. CloudCV handles the rest. You can learn more in the write-up Ashish did on his blog.


There has been an explosion in the number of deep learning frameworks and it is difficult for researchers to keep up with all the latest tools. CloudCV-IDE, built by student Gaurav Gupta, addresses this by allowing a user to build a deep learning network with a drag-and-drop interface, then export to the deep learning framework of their choice (Caffe, TensorFlow, etc).

Gaurav also added support to import model configuration files in order to visualize any architecture. This is one of the first attempts to do this.

By the end of the summer, Gaurav delivered a great UI to visualize models with robust support for Caffe and TensorFlow back-ends. This was a successful start that we plan to build on by supporting more frameworks and facilitating collaborative building of deep learning models.

Overall, this was a highly productive GSoC for CloudCV. Our tools are under active development and we welcome contributions and ideas for new features.

We will definitely apply for GSoC 2017. If you are a student interested in participating we encourage you to get involved early! Feel free to reach out to us on our Gitter channel or on our mailing list.

By Viraj Prabhu, Organization Administrator for CloudCV