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[Reminder] This article contains a real recommendation that got acknowledged in GSoC.

Index (Choose according to your situation) —

~ How to start?

~ How to make an effective proposal?

~ How did I get selected?

~ Important Tips 🥰😍

Note — The things that I have suggested are based on my experience. I don’t want you to follow it but I want you to learn from it.

1. How to start?

Start with GSoC archive. Go through the organization’s page of GSoC 2019 and 2018 (if you have time then 2017 also). Find out the organizations that are participating every year. Chances are they will participate again. So you already have an idea about the participating organizations before the “organization announced” period.

  1. Make a list of organizations that uses tools & technologies that you are familiar with. Give at least a week or more to select 2–3 organizations and 2–3 projects that you find easier to contribute (with a lot of beginner level issues) or with active mentors.
  2. You can target the organizations with inactive mentors in the end because if your pull requests are not getting reviews then you can’t discuss much with your mentor which might be depressing and reduces your chances of selection. But there are cases that for some students it worked, so keep an eye on them till the end (keep them as a backup).
  3. Start with “easy to fix”, “junior”, “good first issue”, “beginner” level issues. What if you can’t find any? In such a case, create some. Click every button or link that you can find in the application, maybe you will find some bug. Apply all possible combinations of actions that might help you find a bug.
  4. What if the project has thousands of lines of code? Well, you are a student who wants to contribute, not create. The project took a lot of pull requests and a lot of time to be what it looks now. So instead of thinking that the project is too big, focus on issues. “change a line”, “add 2 lines”, “change 3 lines” etc. that’s how it work
  5. The best thing you will get once you start is your mentors. You can ask all your doubts from them, they are always there to help you.

BUT If the organizations are announced and you haven’t started anything yet or your organization is not selected then this is for you.

If your organization is not selected then you still have an advantage that you can mention your contributions in your proposal (I have seen this in many accepted proposals)..

>> You still have 40 days, so you have to hurry up. Find a project that is easy for you or a project with inactive mentors or a new organization. If the organization is new then it is new for every student so you all are at the same level. Spend a full day understanding what the project is. and repeat all steps above.

2. How to make an effective proposal?🧐

JuSt Because your proposal is nice that doesn’t mean you got selected

For an effective proposal you must have to understand your GSoC project so well. Because everything you write in your proposal reflects your understanding of that project.

If we go with these points to take care before writing a proposal then it definitely helps you to get selected. Some points are:-

  1. Use at max three colours text in your proposal not more than that because proposal is a professional thing. It is forward to Google also so keep it simple, not make it an art gallery with so many colours and designs.
  2. Write your proposal at max 20 pages and at least 6 pages(this is standard size of GSoC proposal)
  3. Try to add wireframes, Sketches, mock-flow for better understanding of your idea that you want to propose in your proposal.
  4. Make the timeline effective so it looks like you work 30+ hours in a week but not so heavy that it reflects that it is impossible to archive.
  5. Align your proposal with headings and subheadings and write in a systematic way.(Keep it neat & clean)
  6. Send your proposal to your mentor and ask him/her for reviews.(you can also share your proposal with someone who done gsoc)
  7. Before writing a proposal, review some proposals for reference. [ here you find some GSoC selected proposals]

3. How did I get selected?😎

Email of Happiness

Before I get into what I specifically did, let’s take a look at the typical “what does it take to crack GSoC?” points:-

  • An early start
  • Observing previous years organizations and coming up with own ideas for projects before they are announced by Google
  • Great profile, astounding coding skills
  • Sexy amount of contributions
  • A solid proposal

I started thinking about GSoC from Jan after KWoC was completed, and started contributing on around 16een Jan. I started looking for organizations that had projects in my field i.e. iOS. There were around 4 or 5 organizations that had iOS development projects but I narrowed down to two orgs that matched more to my skills and specific fields of my interest.

They were:

AnitaB.org

And,

Amahi

After selecting the two orgs, I started digging into their iOS projects. I started reading about the organizations, checked out their IRC channels and public links, introduced myself and cloned both the orgs repositories and my coding juices started flowing. If you want to know about the organizations, check out their projects on the GSoC website.

I spent two months hanging out on both the orgs’ public channels and seeing the crowd on Anitb.org, I felt a little lost (scared :P). But nonetheless, I tried getting the attention of the mentors in both the organizations and.. a few days went by, and I found myself rocking and rolling with Amahi.

I actually wanted to work on Anitab.org because their project was something very different and exciting and my bonding in Anitab.org with mentors and Admins is so strong but in the initial days gsoc I worked so much in Amahi so decided to write a proposal for both the organization. Because I have done so many contributions in both organizations. I have done 8 minor and 5 major contributions to Anitab.org project and 4 minor and 3 major contributions to Amahi’s project. I start writing my proposal before 15 days are left.

The day is 25th March, and I’m still thinking of how to improve my proposal. Ow, talking about the proposal, I spent around 15 days to finish it (but that was a very weak effort, had I put in 3 consistent hours for like a day or two, I’d be totally cool and ready with my proposal :P). I took help from a few of my friends, asked for their feedback and then finally submitted my first (and last) draft. Unfortunately, every mentor in Amahi was busy so I couldn’t get my draft reviewed and had to make the final submission with my fingers crossed just one days before the deadline.

Important Tips:

  1. Communication with the mentors: One hundred percent true, time to think about the number of times I talked to the mentors, reviewed other’s contributions, helped people by replying to general questions on Amahi’s IRC channel, I was quite heavily active in the community.
  2. Contributions: In total, I made about 7–8 contributions to Amahi’s iOS project, three of which were actually the major things that were mentioned in Amahi’s plan for the GSoC period.
  3. Proposal: I did a lot of research before finalizing my complete proposal (and I do mean “a lot”!). I took inspiration from previously selected GSoC projects.

My own Amahi Proposal link and Anitab.org proposal link.

Good luck and thank you for reading. :)

GSoC’20 @Amahi | iOS developer | open source contributor