Google Summer of Code/2015/Organisation Application
These are the answers and the text as sent in for 2015's Google Summer of Code application. Administrator is Peda, deputy administrator is Ian Dees.
Describe your organization.
OpenStreetMap is a project that creates and distributes free geographic data for the world. The data is collected by volunteers largely from scratch and released with an open-content license. We allow free access to our map images and all of its underlying map data. We aim to promote new and interesting uses of our data which makes the project's uses so diverse.
IRC Channel (Link to a web page describing your organization's public IRC channel. Page should include server name, channel, and any specific policies or instructions. Do not use an irc:// URL)
If you chose "veteran" in the checkbox, please summarize your involvement in Google Summer of Code and the successes and challenges of your participation. Please also list your pass/fail rate for each year.
In the years 2013 and 2014 we participated under an umbrella organization, OSGeo, with 2 OSM projects that have been a great success. They were finished in time and are now part of our main software stack, thus actively used (changeset discussion feature and a fast implementation of our map API). 2012 we had 6 projects, 4 of which have been a success, 1 didn't finish at all, and 1 did finish after the end of GSoC. 2 projects are still in use, the other sucessful projects have been used but were superseded by other implementations. 2011 we had 3 projects, all of which were finished in time. The improvements to OSRM (a OSM routing engine) have been incorporated into the main code, the khtml.maplib project is used and still developed on. The third project is not used anymore as far as we know. 2010 we had 6 projects with 2 failing projects and 4 successful projects. All projects were used by our community initially. One of the projects proved the task could be done but was superseded at a later time, while the other projects are still in use today. In the year 2009 we had 6 projects and 2008 we had 2 projects. We can no longer tell the pass/fail rate for those for sure.
For all of those projects it seemed most important to have an active and engaged mentor. Someone helping to incorporate the code to the main software stack or advertising the project to the community so it will be in active use afterwards. This has been the case for several projects over the last years, but not for all of them.
We don't have enough data to judge if students stuck with our project. But we can tell that GSoC enabled us to encourage several students to start contributing code, who had contributed map data only before.
Why is your organization applying to participate in Google Summer of Code 2015? What do you hope to gain by participating?
We strongly believe that free-to-use geographical data are important for organizations as well as for individuals that want to use the data in creative ways (such as writing routing software or simply counting the number of buildings in a country). While we have plenty of map data contributors by now, we have a shortage of programmers that are willing to experiment and implement many of the ideas that are floating around. By getting motivated students involved in the project we hope to decrease this shortage and encourage them to become long time contributors to OpenStreetMap.
How many potential mentors do you have for this year's program? What criteria did you use to select the mentors? Please be as specific as possible.
Mentors must be known in the OSM community and cannot be absolute newcomers. They need to be active contributors to make sure they are familiar with the project and that they have the network necessary within the community (so they can e.g. point to relevant people, or ask persons who might have specific knowledge on issues). We try to match mentors to project ideas as soon as possible, as no single mentor has experience with all software components in our project. Mentors must also be capable of guiding and assisting the student as necessary to help them achieve their project goals, and willing to put in the required time and effort to help make their students successful.
Currently we have 9 potential mentors available that are already matched to project ideas, enough to match multiple members to most of our project ideas (thus providing redundancy). We also have a reserve of mentor candidates that have announced their interest, but are not matched to any project idea at the moment.
What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students? Please be as specific as possible.
We expect students to report at least weekly to their mentor(s) about success but also about problems they face during their project. This way the mentor can spot problems and discouragement in an early stage. If that happens, the mentor will try to get the student focused on the project again and understand what is distracting them. If the student misses one of their scheduled checkins without prior arrangement, the mentor and admins will attempt to contact him using all possible means, be it electronically, by phone or in real life (in case he's a member of a local OSM community). Once in contact, we'll work with the student to determine how to proceed. Typically the student has become distracted with unplanned non-GSoC activities and we'll work with the student to refocus and come up with a new plan for a successful GSoC project. If we can't reach the student or if the student is unable to continue, we have no choice but to fail him at the next GSoC checkpoint.
What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors? Please be as specific as possible.
Our plan is to choose mentors who are well known in our community, who are highly active and known for their reliability. However, if there's still an unplanned occurence or the student feels the mentor is not responsive enough the admins will try to provide the student with a second or replacement mentor (which shouldn't be a problem as our community is big and we should have enough possible mentors).
What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before and during the program?
OpenStreetMap is a large community with several different communication channels. As people tend to stick to their preferred way of communication, we'll encourage any form of interaction, be it forum, blog, mailing lists, wiki, jabber or IRC. We'll require the student to report about their progress and experiences during the program at least weekly, in whatever way that suits them. As a team of mentors and admins, we'll also introduce the students to the community. Where possible, we also give preference to students that already have a connection with OSM in some way, even if it's usually as a data contributor rather than programmer. After GSoC, we'll maintain the relationship with our new developers by involving them in development discussion and encouraging them to continue contributing code or map data.
What will you do to encourage that your accepted students stick with the project after Google Summer of Code concludes?
As we'll try to incorporate the software into OpenStreetMap the student will be rewarded with his software being in daily use. We hope this encourages the student to improve on the project and maintain it for a long time. However, as there are enough open tasks and OpenStreetMap is a great project as a whole, we're also happy if they pick another task to work on, be it further software development or plain mapping.
Are you a new organization who has a Googler or other organization to vouch for you? If so, please list their name(s) here.
Are you an established or larger organization who would like to vouch for a new organization applying this year? If so, please list their name(s) here.
Is there anything else we should know or you'd like to tell us that doesn't fit anywhere else on the application?