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# Google's Summer of Code: Past and Future

February 18, 2009

Since 2005, Google has run its Summer of Code program each (northern hemisphere) summer, offering college students \$4500 and a T-shirt to work on an open-source project instead of flipping burgers. Students involved often report that the program has allowed them to get their dream jobs or get into their top-choice schools. For the projects fortunate enough to be accepted, the Summer of Code offers a number of benefits:

• Increased visibility of submitted code
• \$500 per student from Google, to be used for any purpose
• New developers, if you can recruit them by the end of summer
• Experience in mentoring people who may have no previous familiarity with your project, and connection with a community of people doing their best at the same.

Last summer's program was about three times bigger than the first year's (see the tables below). Because of the economic downturn, the 2009 program will be capped at 1000 students, a slight decrease from 1125 last year. The open-source community is fortunate that Google continues to offer this program at all, since it has been laying off many of its own employees. With 1000 students involved, this year's program will amount to a commitment to open-source of more than \$5 million.

To better understand the last few years and come up with some estimates about this year's program, I researched data from the previous four years, calculated a few statistics, and projected a few more. There were three numbers I was curious about: student acceptance rates, organization acceptance rates, and student-to-organization ratios.

Let's start with student acceptance. In the below table, you can see the number of applied and accepted students for each year. Bold text indicates a projection and bold, italicized text indicates a number derived from a projection. The next column has the growth rate in number of applicants. I used last year's growth rate as a conservative estimate of this year's increase, then calculated the number of applicants from a 15% increase to last year's count. Unsurprisingly, a growing number of applicants coupled with a lower number of available slots would reduce the acceptance rate. For open-source projects, this implies that students who make the cut will be even better than last year. Unfortunately, that means there will be more tough choices and deserving students who will not make the cut.

Year Accepted Applied Applicant Growth Acceptance Rate
2009 1000 8200 15% 12%
2008 1125 7100 15% 16%
2007 900 6200 103% 15%
2006 600 3050 -65% 20%
2005 420 8750 5%

Next, let's take a look at stats for the open-source projects involved in the Summer of Code. From the past two years, we can see that more than 1/3 of applying organizations get accepted. This seems high enough to be worth the effort of applying, which is primarily composed of thinking of project ideas. This exercise can be valuable for recruiting new developers outside of the Summer of Code, too.

One number that turned out to be surprisingly informative was students per organization, which has stayed remarkably consistent since 2006. Using the average of this number over the past 3 years, I estimated the likely number of organizations in this year's program and came up with around 150. If the organization applications increase at the same rate as they did from 2007 to 2008, the acceptance rate for organizations could drop below 20%.

Year Accepted Applied Acceptance Rate Students/Organization
2009 150 6.4
2008 175 500 35% 6.4
2007 130 300 43% 6.9
2006 100 6.0
2005 40 10.5

In addition to a few guesses about numbers, there's one major change to the program that we know will happen this year: the move to an open-source web application called Melange. This will enable anyone involved in the program to add new features or bugfixes on-demand. Since Google's open-source team is typically extremely busy, this means anyone who wants a feature can add it themselves as fast as they want to. One other interesting feature is that it should allow easy collection of various statistics across the entire program.

In addition, Melange's open-source nature means organizations besides Google can use the same application to run their own programs similar to Summer of Code. Work on Melange is still underway and the current developers would appreciate help in getting it ready for this year's program. So please get in touch if either of those reasons motivate you and you want to work with Django. At the moment, Melange runs on Google App Engine, but contributors are welcome to add new back-ends, according to Leslie Hawthorn, who runs the Summer of Code.

Last year's mentor summit and later discussions resulted in a wiki to collect the wisdom and experience of mentoring organizations over the years. This wiki is now hosted by the OSU Open Source Lab and was recently opened to the general public. It's only editable by Summer of Code mentors, but anyone can read and learn from it. It seems likely that it could become a valuable resource for organizations mentoring any new developers, whether within this program or outside of it. In addition, session notes from the mentor summits are also available on the wiki.

To find out more details about this year's Summer of Code, check out the FAQ. The application period for organizations is March 9 to 13, which gives you a few weeks to think of projects. The FAQ is a good starting point; it describes what a strong organization application looks like. Potential mentors will want to read the mentor advice page. For students, the application period is March 23 - April 3. If you are a student who is serious about getting accepted, read the student advice page and get in touch with organizations as soon as they have been announced.