[Python-Dev] Our failure at handling GSoC students

Todd V Rovito rovitotv at gmail.com
Wed Aug 7 00:36:10 CEST 2013

On Aug 6, 2013, at 3:26 PM, Antoine Pitrou <solipsis at pitrou.net> wrote:
> I would like to point out that we currently fail at handling GSoC
> projects and bringing them to completion.
In the past I have noticed the same thing with IDLE.  Students and mentors act outside of the standard Python development process then the final student products never get committed. 

> One cruel example is the set of PEP 3121 / PEP 384 refactorings done by
> Robin Schreiber:
> http://bugs.python.org/issue?%40columns=id%2Cactivity%2Ctitle%2Ccreator%2Cassignee%2Cstatus%2Ctype&%40sort=-activity&%40filter=status&%40action=searchid&ignore=file%3Acontent&%40search_text=pep+3121&submit=search&status=-1%2C1%2C3
I agree this is a sad example.

> What didn't produce an alarm during Robin's work is that GSoC work is
> done in private. Therefore, other core developers than the mentor don't
> get to give an advice early, as would happen with any normal proposal
> done publicly (on the mailing-list or on the bug tracker). It is also
> likely that the mentor gets overworked after the GSoC period is over,
> is unable to finalize the patch and push it, and other core devs have a
> hard time catching up on the work and don't know....

So for this year I designed an IDLE project that specifically forced the students to be like normal contributors and use the standard Python development model.  See this link for the project description:

From the project description:
"Successful student proposals should not under estimate how long it takes to get code committed to CPython. A student must be able to concisely communicate and document the unit test framework's design to the Python community in order to get the framework committed to the CPython source tree. Do not underestimate how much time this communication and documentation will actually take in your proposal!!! Often times it will take several passes and several code reviews for a patch to get committed into CPython. This project is approximately 40% coding and 60% communication. This project requires average Python coding skills with excellent communication skills and a unrelenting persistence to get this job done to the satisfaction of at least one Python Core Developer so the work will be committed into the CPython source tree."

To date the students have gotten three commits completed and seven total issues opened.  Here is a google spreadsheet with the details:

It is too early to tell how effective the students have been.  I do wish more unit tests were created but it all takes time to convince a core Python developer to make the commit (and with good reason).  In this case Terry Reedy has been a huge help!  I think the students are having fun and hopefully will stay involved for years to come.   

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