[IPython-dev] About GSoC 2011

Fernando Perez fperez.net at gmail.com
Fri Apr 8 03:21:23 EDT 2011

Hi Omar,

2011/4/7 Omar Andrés Zapata Mesa <andresete.chaos at gmail.com>:
> I applied to GSoC with IPython proposal, please give some feedback and
> suggestions,
> my blog is http://ipython-http.blogspot.com/
> I think a I can a good job with the prototype of James Gao, Brian Granger
> and  discussing web interface standards for ipython, art and features in
> the mailing list.

I'm sorry I've been silent, I had a family health emergency that sent
me mostly offline for a few days, I know you needed feedback, and I
apologize for leaving you waiting (as well as other people were also
bottlenecking on me).

I'm very happy to see you wanting to contribute further, but I think
that it's going to be very difficult for this to happen as a gsoc
project this year.

The first reason is that, as I had said earlier, as a second-year
student you would be expected to clear a much higher bar of entry to
the program than a new student.  While you have made a good effort
recently to push forward on completing your work from last year, which
is great, that hasn't been finished yet.  With help from the core team
your logging work is now merged, but there's still no complete
implementation of the terminal client ready for final merge.  I played
with your prototype and gave some feedback (as did Thomas), and you
have a good start there, but it's certainly not code ready for merge

Note that I am really willing to continue helping you with feedback to
improve this until it's merged, if you still want to work on it. It's
useful code that we do need, so it needs to happen, and it would be
great to have you work on it if you find it interesting.

In addition to the completion of that project, there's a second reason
that is also very important: the *main* point of gsoc is not to
develop one piece of code, but rather to grow the community of core
contributors to a project.  In the last round of mentor list
discussions, they have very strongly emphasized how important it is
that students who are accepted have shown a real participation in a
project, measured in multiple ways (especially for students who have
been around for a while).  That means fixing bugs, contributing code
reviews, making small developments, writing documentation, etc.  It
may not be as much fun or sexy as diving into a big, standalone idea,
but that's much more the reality of everyday work in a project.

You can see for example how Thomas showed up out of the blue
contributing pull requests at first for the python3 branch, then for
small things, and these days if you look at the log there's a ton of
major, critical work by him (he just completely refactored one of the
most delicate pieces of code we had, the input handling stuff).  But
he dove into all aspects of the project, including the thankless jobs
of flushing the crazy backlog of pull requests I had allowed to
accumulate after the India sprints, as well as doing massive bug
triage.  That work is never as fun as designing some new cool app, but
it's a necessary part of sustaining a project in the long term.  In no
small part thanks to Thomas' efforts, we now have *zero* open pull
requests, and we're down to *four* critical bugs for releasing 0.11.
That's the kind of participation in a project that brings a member in
and makes an enormous difference.  And I think you will find that if
you engage the project like this, you will actually learn more, and
find it more fun in the long run, than only working on one specific
idea, because you'll get to really participate of the entire effort.

Keep in mind that if you are still interested in participating in the
project, we'd be thrilled to have you continue here.  The terminal
work you've started is still very much needed, and it working on that
will help you to become a regular ipython contributor.  With
sufficient code merged in the project and a real record of project
contributions and participation, you would have a much stronger case
for applying next year, for example.

I realize this isn't what you wanted to hear, but I hope you
understand the reasons for this, and I'm happy to chat further about
this, on- or off-list.  But I want to reply publicly because this is
not something directed in any way at your personally, but rather a
statement of how I think the project must handle students who want to
return (as well as informing potentially interested ones in the

All the best,


ps - thanks to Min and Brian for feedback on my reply before sending
it; this is an important part of attempting to run a project well, so
I wanted to make sure I said things in the clearest, but kindest way

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