Google Summer of Code 2020 with LibreOffice — My Selection Story

This year, 1191 students have been selected for Google Summer of Code 2020 and I am happy to announce that I have got the opportunity to be called one of them. In this article, I will be sharing my story which might be useful for the students who are willing to participate in this program(gsoc-wannabes).

My story is not a success story, rather it’s a story about failure.

I heard about the program in late 2018 and was highly intrigued by everything about it. To start with, it is a program organized by the tech giant Google and I, coming from a not-so-great engineering college, it felt like a dream to me to even think about getting accepted into it. So, I started doing my homework — talking to past year participants about the program, reading their blog posts and what-not! And to summarize, here’s what I learnt about the general flow of applying to the program (it may be useful for the reader if they are a gsoc-wannabe).

It was October of the same year and I was yet to pick an open source organization. I skimmed through the organization list, archive organization list, spent hours of diving deep into the open source organizations and their GSoC projects — with tons of tabs opened in my web browser.

“Organizations, organizations every where
Not any project to pick”

Now, after so much of research, I picked what I wanted to pick. You see, I was introduced to the world of open source in my freshman year. I was using Linux on my computer systems lab and the teacher started telling the class about LibreOffice. She had assigned the class a homework to write down the advantages of using LibreOffice compared to Microsoft Office, differences between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office, and drawbacks of the same. Since then I have been fascinated by LibreOffice, and the whole open source culture in general.

It was December and I had not fixed any bugs, contributed nothing towards the organization. Some obvious guilt and anxiety building up inside my mind. All I had done was to build the software on my system. One day, I finally completed that. Till January 2019, I was fixing EasyHacks (they have a term for bugs that can be solved by beginners). The EasyHacks, as the name suggests, are quite easy to solve.

I resolved few more EasyHacks when I realized that the proposal deadline was approaching(yes, it was around March). I hastily picked a project from the GSoC Project List. I contacted the mentor. After exchanging few dry messages with them and not communicating with them properly[mistake 1], I started drafting my proposal a day before proposal deadline[mistake 2].

After writing the proposal, I submitted it and there was a month long wait before the results were to be announced. I disappeared completely and made no effort to work toward the project, or to even contact the mentor about this[mistake 3]. Basically sat on my ass to wait for the results to come. It was a very long month. A month later, the results were announced and my proposal was not accepted.

I could not make it to GSoC’19. I was devastated. But I had to face the bitter truth —that there were some reasons behind the rejection. I could not understand the reasons back then. So I just consoled myself, and decided to try again next year.

In late 2019 and early 2020, I made a couple of more bug fixes. This time, however, I picked a project quite earlier than the last year and talked to the mentor about it in depth [correction to mistake 1]. We discussed the project in great detail and came up with a plan. I started writing down the proposal a couple of days before the submission deadline[mistake 2 was not corrected]. I resent myself for being a procrastinator. I submitted the proposal one hour before the deadline.

I was not sure about the quality of my hastily-written proposal. Then came the one month long waiting period. This time, I did not sit down in silence. I started implementing the project and continued talking to my mentor about it. The month passed and my proposal was accepted this time.

I was beyond happy and satisfied with the results. This was one month ago. I am writing this article in the end of the community bonding period. I have spent one month interacting more with the community and my mentor, familiarizing myself with the code I am going to work on in the next three months and implementing more parts of my project.

In the upcoming days, I will write about the evaluations and my project progress. I promise, the upcoming posts would be lot more technical than this one. You can read the project abstract here: https://summerofcode.withgoogle.com/projects/#5814711242719232

Innovator.