The 2006 season of the Google's US$3 million open source student development program is drawing to a close, with some of the resulting software already released as part of widely used open source projects.
A total of 630 student developers from 90 countries took on software projects for 102 different open source projects as part of Google's "Summer of Code", said Leslie Hawthorn, the project coordinator. Last year's Summer of Code involved Last year's 400 developers from 40 countries, and 41 software projects. At last count, the final success rate was 82 percent, which is more than double the 37 percent success rate that a 2004 Standish Group study cited for corporate application development projects.
Summer of Code, which was open only to enrolled students age 18 and up, was intended to "get students involved in coding and other computer science activities over the summer," Hawthorn said. Each student received a US$4,500 stipend, and the open source project to which the student contributed received US$500.
The project has resulted in one new employee for Google, and several new interns, said Google's Open Source program manager Chris DiBona. A total of 1260 developers from open source projects acted as mentors for Summer of Code, Hawthorn said. Some paired up on student projects, others acted as backup for when primary mentors were unavailable, and some reviewed incoming applications.
Both software projects and students proposed Summer of Code project ideas, DiBona said. Google used a custom-developed web application to support the project's information-gathering needs. "Last year we had a very simple web app, this year we did everything," he said. Google provided the infrastructure for posting proposals, ranking them, and administering evaluations and payments. Google made the final choices on which projects were accepted.
The Summer of Code application runs not on an ordinary SQL database, but on BigTable, Google's internal large-scale database that also powers the Subversion repository for Google's software project hosting site.
Projects ranged from highly technical work that only other developers will see behind the scenes, up to user interface improvements that users will notice right away. Laurynas Biveinis, mentored by Daniel Berlin, contributed garbage collection enhancements to the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), which involved reading, understanding, and making a contribution to a challenging codebase. GCC was one of the first widely-used programs under the GNU General Public License, and has been seeing recent fundamental changes as part of efforts to support the Java programming language and new processor architectures.
Project participant Erik Pukinskis has developed an easier interface for an already simple, easy-to-use word processor, AbiWord. The new interface is intended for the One Laptop Per Child project's "CM1" children's laptop, and is already integrated into the codebase for the children's machine, Hawthorn said.