I'm very excited to announce that CiviCRM has been accepted as a mentoring organization by Google's Summer of Code (GSoC) program this year. This could result in Google investing as more than $100,000 in CiviCRM this summer.
I've participated in the GSoC program as mentor for 2 Drupal projects (Creative Commons and Media Derivatives API). Jason Daniels (ECAT) got a taste of what the college program will be like when he helped with the high school Google Code In early this year.
Last year many people were shocked when Drupal wasn't approved as a mentoring organization. Drupal had been participating in GSoC since 2005. A GSoC project was how @webchick got started with Drupal. What happened? Was PHP no longer a language cool enough for Google? Was Drupal too enterprise? Several people starting looking into the process Google used to approve organizations to figure out why Drupal was rejected. The short answer was Drupal's Organization Admins didn't put enough effort into coming up with project ideas for potential students.
This year, armed with a better understanding of the process, instead of volunteering to mentor another Drupal project I volunteered to manage CiviCRM's GSoC program as the Organization Admin. Xavier Duboit from the European Technology for the People project is the other CiviCRM Organization Admin.
With the help of large organizations that use CiviCRM like Wikimedia, Free Software Foundation, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Drupal Association and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, we created a list of several potential projects and recruited 13 potential mentors from the CiviCRM core team and development shops that consistently contribute back to CiviCRM (Fuzion, Skvare, CiviDesk, JMA, LCD).
Google pays qualified students $5500 to work on these projects from April 21 to August 11. The mentoring organization gets $500 for each slot. Mentors and co-mentoring organizations volunteer their time.
Google accepted 190 mentoring organizations this year and expects to accept 1,300 students. That's an investment of more that $7 million in open source projects! The number of projects CiviCRM is allocated is based largely on the number of students who complete a full project proposal for one of the ideas already suggested or a new idea.
If allocated 20 project slots, CiviCRM would benefit from a $120,000 investment from Google. 10 slots ($60,000) is probably a more realistic target, but the number will depend on how many developers and organizations get involved.
We already have a good group of potential mentors including Donald Lobo (the CiviCRM project lead), but are always looking for more. We are also looking for organization "co-mentors" that would be interested in using the new features and would be willing to help scope the project, test the student's work, and provide feedback. In some cases these organization mentors are actually bringing potential students to the project. These are students who have been working as interns or are connected to the organization in some other way (daughter of the executive director's neighbor who's a computer science major).
Not all of these projects will be accept, but projects get matched with both a developer mentor and organizational co-mentor are going to be rated highest by the CiviCRM mentoring team.
I'll be hosting 2 Google Hangouts to discuss the details. The first is tonight at 8PM Pacific (what time is that for me?). The next will be next week at 9AM Pacific Thursday, March 4 (what time is that for me?).
Several of the projects proposed will address issues I know community media groups have been frustrated by like the UI for mass mailings, the UI for event management, social media integration, and lack of email previewing (a virtual version of how the mail will look in different email clients like Outlook, Mac Mail, Gmail, etc).
The role of co-mentoring organization won't have anything to do with code. It is to provide feedback from an organization that would actual use a feature. The developer mentor will be working directly with the student on the code, but left to work on their own without feedback from actual users developers don't always produce features that are most usable or easy to understand.
If you've used any of these CiviCRM features already listed to be improved, but thought it could be better and your organization is willing to let you volunteer 10-20 hours between April and August....
YOU CAN HELP IMPROVE CIVICRM FOR EVERYONE!
To get involved, simple add your name/organization to any projects you'd be interested in helping with at http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRM/Google+Summer+of+Code+-+2014
If you have ideas for other potential improvements to CiviCRM, feel free to add those too.
This is a chance for you to make a real improvement to CiviCRM without investing anything more than a few hours a month for a few months this summer. The heavy lifting will be done by the CiviCRM org admins (Xavier and I) , the development mentors, and the students.