Google Summer of Code/Application 2014

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Why is your organisation applying to participate in Google Summer of Code 2014? What do you hope to gain by participating?*

Apertium is applying again for two main reasons:

  • Apertium likes Google Summer of Code: it is a programme that supports open-source as much as we do!
  • Apertium needs Google Summer of Code: it is an incredible opportunity for us to spread the word about our project, to attract newcomers and to improve the platform

What we hope to gain by participating is more students getting to know open-source, contributing to open-source and, especially if they are passionate about languages and computers, contributing to Apertium.

How many potential mentors do you have for this year's program? What criteria did you use to select them?*
  • We have 14 potential mentors.
  • Active contributors: All of our mentors are active contributors to the project. Most of us know each other personally, either through meet ups, working together or conferences.
  • Knowledgeable in their field: Many of our mentors are university professors or PhD students or graduates. However, this is not enough to be considered for mentoring.
  • Enough time to spare: We ensure that our mentors have enough time to spare. Members of the project who have less than 5-10 hours/week to dedicate to their student are discouraged from applying to be a mentor.
  • Experience with mentoring: The majority of our mentors also have experience with mentoring (from past GSOCs), either they have been mentors, or in some cases, been mentored. Any new mentors are paired with an experienced mentor.
What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?*

Students will be encouraged to let us know how they want to break up their time, and to plan for holidays and try and plan for other absences. This will avoid both mentors and students wasting time. If a mentor reports the unscheduled disappearance of a student (72-hour silence), they will be contacted by the administrators. If silence persists, their task will be frozen and we will report to Google.

What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?*

It is quite unlikely, since all of the mentors are very active developers, with long-term commitment to the project — they are people we have met face-to-face at conferences, workshops or even in daily life.

However, there is always the possibility that some problem comes up, so we also assign backup mentors to all projects, and in many cases there are more than two mentors for a particular project.

If a mentor cannot continue for whatever reason, the backup/co-mentor will take over, and one of the organisation administrators will take on the role of second backup mentor.

What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before and during the program?*

First, we encourage all of our students visit our IRC channel (#apertium @ freenode) as often as possible, even before the start of the program, since that would help them find a suitable mentor and a useful project that they can work on. We advice them strongly to read our Wiki pages and manuals, use our system, try to break it and fix it, and finally tell us about it. As a result, students get familiar with Apertium before the coding period starts, which increases their chances of ending up with a successful project.

In addition, we define coding challenges for each of the proposed projects, which serve both as an entry task, and as means for getting our students familiar with Apertium and involved in our community in the early stages of the program.

Finally, during the coding stage, we talk to our students on a daily basis and give them suggestions and advice when they get stuck.

What will you do to encourage your accepted students to stick with the project after Google Summer of Code concludes?*

We have found that the following has helped us have quite a high retention rate in previous years:

  • Helping students out publishing papers for conferences, or assisting with academic work.
  • Organising a workshop (FreeRBMT) where students can present their work to the wider community
  • Encouraging students to get involved in mentoring themselves, through the GCI programme
  • Passing on information about MSc and PhD positions, and academic and other grants.
Are you a new organisation who has a Googler or other organisation to vouch for you? If so, please list their name(s) here.


Are you an established or larger organisation who would like to vouch for a new organisation applying this year? If so, please list their name(s) here.


If you chose "veteran" in the organisation profile dropdown, please summarise your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation. Please also list your pass/fail rate for each year.

Apertium took part in GSoC in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. We received 9 slots in 2009, 9 again in 2010, 11 in 2011, 12 in 2012 although we gave one slot back to the pool, making 11, and 11 in 2013. We are very happy with the results of our participation. Our main successes and challenges are described below:


  • Getting useful results: Year upon year the majority of projects we have had were successful in that they produced useful, working code, and over half were released, which means that the code got to a sufficient level to be let into the world.
  • Getting maintainable results: Around half the projects each year have had outside developers (e.g. not the students nor their mentors) work on them.
  • Attracting and keeping new developers:
    • We have had a total of 49 students, of these, around 15 are regulars on IRC, and several have gone on to become mentors in their own right.
    • Out of our 11 GSOC students last year, over half are still working with us. Several of our GSOC students last year also helped us out with mentoring for the GCI.
  • Selecting applicants: We continued refining our selection process, and found it worked as well as in 2012, but with less overall effort.


  • Getting students to work quickly: Apertium is a fairly complex pipeline mixing programming knowledge with linguistic knowledge, getting started is not always straightforward and a special effort needs to be made to break the problems to be addressed by students into "chewable" pieces.
  • Getting the final furlong: Many of our GSOC projects were successful, in that the code worked, but they needed some finishing touches to be release-worthy. Encouraging students to do this proved in some cases difficult.
  • Persuading students to publicise their results, in 2009 we got around half of our students to present their work to the wider community, and in 2010 two (though two students who completed their projects outside of GSoC also presented their work), but some either didn't plan to have the time or we weren't persuasive enough. In 2011/2012 we had one student present their work. In 2013, we had three students work on papers, one was rejected for publication, another is being reviewed for a journal, and one is in progress.

Pass/fail rate by year:

  • 2009: 8 pass, 1 fail
  • 2010: 8 pass, 1 fail
  • 2011: 9 pass, 2 fail
  • 2012: 10 pass, 1 fail
  • 2013: 10 pass, 1 fail
If you are a new organisation, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?


Is there anything else we should know or you'd like to tell us that doesn't fit anywhere else on the application?