* * *

So up till now we know how to get started with open source and how to choose an organization(s) for GSoC. I’d now like to guide you through the next stages of being a part of the community, finalizing project(s) and writing ‘the proposal’.

This post is the second in a series of 3 blog posts. To read the first post, visit: http://aasf.in/aasf/postdetails.php?link=40

The next post will be uploaded on September 18.

Happy Reading!

git checkout -b organization : Winter

Your prefered organization having been finalized, maintain your presence in github (through active pull requests and issues), IRC, mailing list etc. Keep working on doable issues in your organization from December till proposal submission phase. This will ensure that your organization maintainers know you as a long term contributor later on, when proposals are being submitted.

Around February, start identifying projects which you would like to work on. Most organizations have an active projects list from which you can suggest project ideas. Rate all project ideas available on the basis of

  • Feasibility - Do not pick projects which are too difficult to be implemented.

  • Domain knowledge or prior experience - Whether you are familiar with the topic in hand or have any projects in the related field.

  • Competitiveness - By this time you would know other student developers who are trying their hand at GSoC. Some of them could be better than you and might have already discussed which project they are interested in with the maintainers through IRC or some other medium. It would be better to avoid such project ideas with high competitiveness from people better than you.

Once you have identified the project idea you would like to work on, based on the above analysis, figure out what you would like to implement as part of this idea. This will be the core of your proposal. Support your idea with enough research in the domain so that you can explain why it should be implemented. Discuss this project idea through any public platform so that the maintainers (prospective mentors) can review the same. If you need an example, take a look at this: http://knife.lugatgt.org/pipermail/mlpack/2018-February/003525.html (my first discussion with a maintainer of mlpack regarding the project I wanted to implement). If the idea has been accepted and got positive reviews, you are good to go ahead.

Winter Challenge : Finalize your project

Helper : Project ideas list of your organization


P.S: Don’t forget to register for GSoC in the website once student registrations are open. (To miss that will be really stupid).

Meanwhile, the list of organizations selected will be announced around February. If your organization gets selected, hurray! But if it doesn’t, your open source experience will count even if you apply for another organization.


Find issues related to your project idea and make PR-s for the same. If no such issue exists, you can open PR-s for some small feature additions in the repo, related to your idea. (See last line of my mail in the above discussion). Keep working on these through the proposal submission period and result announcement period. This will be proof of your knowledge in the domain as well as in that particular module of the codebase. Familiarity with the organization’s codebase is a huge plus point when you submit your proposal.

make proposal -j4 : Spring

A student can submit a maximum of 3 proposals to one or multiple organizations. Make sure your proposal:

  • Is focussed on whatever idea you had discussed earlier with maintainers

  • Is based on the proposal template of the organization

  • Contains proper technical implementation details

  • Mentions whatever prior domain knowledge you have with respect to the project (optional)

  • Mentions you contributions to the organization (especially the ones related to the project)

  • Contains a well defined timeline that meets all goals

  • Isn’t the copy of a standard template

Spend a minimum of 7-10 days on creating your proposal. It is the most essential part of applying for GSoC. A well structured proposal shows your knowledge and ability to complete the project.

Once proposal submission period has started, submit your proposal(s) as a google doc file for review to the maintainers. If you have been a consistent contributor to the organization, you will get a reply from the maintainers with suggestions of improvement. If you are completely new to the organization, they will probably not waste time reviewing your proposal(s). Make the suggested edits promptly and leave for review again.

Spring challenge : Submit your proposal before the deadline, take a deep breath, wait for the result.

Helper: Figures and diagrams make the proposal more attractive, but don’t overdo it.

              Refer accepted proposals of previous GSoC students (can be easily found online).

Finalizing the project and writing the proposal are the two most important tasks since the most difficult part is to get selected by the organization.

So if you have made it till here, you deserve an applause (and three cheers). Do remember that it is difficult to be selected, but not impossible.

Coming up next

  • What to do once you are accepted?

  • The hurdles of summer.

I will try to include the timeline I followed in the next blog post.

This post is the second in a series of 3 blog posts. To read the first post, visit: http://aasf.in/aasf/postdetails.php?link=40

The next post will be uploaded on September 18.

About me

I am Haritha Sreedharan Nair, 4th year Information Technology student at ABV-IIITM, Gwalior. I am a Google Summer of Code 2018 participant with ‘mlpack’. If you are interested to know more about my project, visit: https://summerofcode.withgoogle.com/projects/#6670677558427648

Github profile: https://github.com/haritha1313/