Tales of software craftsmanship

Tales of software craftsmanship

Google Summer of Code accepted student’s checklist

A little while ago Google published the list of accepted students for Google Sumer of Code 2012, and KDE got 60 students. If you are one of those 60, I wish you again a warm welcome to KDE.

I have put together a checklist of tasks and suggestions I advise you to follow during the community bonding phase. While you are not required to code until May 21 (end of the community bonding period), you are expected to get ready and be in good standing with your community. By now I suppose you have already contacted your mentor.

What follows also applies to Season of KDE students.

(1) Join the relevant communication channels.

KDE contributors do not just silently churn out code, they like to hang out a lot, exchange ideas and opinions. But since KDE pretty huge, different subprojects have their own communication channels. You should definitely join your subproject’s development mailing list (e.g. amarok-devel@kde.org for Amarok, digikam-devel@kde.org for digiKam, etc.) as an absolute minimum. I also strongly advise you to join your subproject’s IRC channel on irc.freenode.net, as many development discussions happen there (e.g. #kdevelop for KDevelop, #plasma for Plasma, etc.). You should also join #kde-devel and #kde-soc on irc.freenode.net. Your mentor will instruct you if there are other communication channels you should be aware of.

(2) Get acquainted with KDE’s infrastructure.

You should get a KDE Identity account and fill out your profile. This account works with most of the services provided by KDE, such as review board, wikis (Community and Techbase) and forums. You need to sign up separately for KDE’s issue tracker. You must then also apply for a contributor account to be able to commit code, please follow these instructions to do so.

(3) Get ready to blog.

Writing a blog is a great way to introduce yourself to the community and keep everybody informed on your progress. If you do not have a blog yet, consider starting one and having it aggregated on Planet KDE. I personally recommend WordPress which is also Free Software but you can use whatever platform you like. It is not mandatory but I think it’s a nice way to motivate yourself and bond with the community. Do not feel pressured to do it, but a few articles when you reach certain milestones in your project could be very nice.

(4) Learn the ways of the community.

Free Software communities work in certain specific ways which are sometimes very different from what a new Google Summer of Code student might be used to. To help you get up to speed quickly, Donnie Berkholz, Lydia Pintscher and Kevin Smith, Google Summer of Code administrators for Gentoo & X.Org, KDE and XMPP Standards Foundation respectively put together a very good article on the DOs and DON’Ts of Google Summer of Code for students. If you are new to KDE I consider this article a required reading assignment before starting your work. It is short, easy to read and to the point, and every word of it applies to your situation as Google Summer of Code students at KDE. For more information on getting involved with KDE specifically, I highly recommend the Free manual KDE Dev Guide, a step by step introduction to KDE for new contributors. A much more complete resource on getting involved with Free Software is Open Advice, a Free knowledge collection from a variety of prominent Free Software contributors.

(5) Talk it through.

You are not required to code for almost a month until the coding period begins, but work on your project starts now. Plan ahead. Do analysis and design. Make sure that if there’s any potential obstacle in your project, it comes up as soon as possible. Set aside a few hours and schedule meetings with your mentor to discuss the fine details of your project and iron out the kinks. It’s best if such discussions are held in the subproject’s IRC channel to allow all the interested parties in the community to contribute. Be ready to submit regular updates to your mentor once you start coding. KDE Google Summer of Code administrators strongly recommend weekly updates to the subproject’s development mailing list, but the exact way you do this is up to your mentor.

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