Covered below in detail are the expectations for Summer of Code students that are accepted to participate. In addition to the Acceptance Requirements that all students are required to abide by, there are participation and behavior expectations.
The program timeframe is very short. There's not much time to get up to speed, so there is a need to be clear of what is expected. Also, many students haven't done a lot of real-world development work previously. On top of that, most mentors and students are in different locations so coordinated interaction can be difficult at times. Because of this, it's vitally important to the success of each student's project for all expectations to be specified and understood before students begin coding for the summer. This should be the first step in a long series of frequent communication between student and their mentor(s).
This document walks through various expectations for students and mentors, as well as addressing various ways to communicate effectively.
One of the primary purposes of the program is to introduce students to real-world open source development where there are social, collaboration, and other pragmatic concerns in addition to technical implementation issues. It is our goal to integrate all participants as full-fledged new developers on the project not just for the duration of summer but thereafter too. The projects are a very important part of the program, but they're certainly not the most important part. The point is to have new developers join in development.
Unless otherwise discussed, students are expected to work about 40 hours a week on their project. This is essentially a full-time job. If students can't work this much or if there are periods of time when a student will be away on vacation, then that needs to be discussed beforehand with the mentors or project administrator. The mentors shouldn't have to hunt you down to keep tabs on your activity either (see Version control below).
The student is expected to be self-motivated. The mentor may push the student to excel but if the student is not self-motivated to work, then the student probably won't get much out of participating. The mentors are there to help, but they're not supposed to be a crutch or substitute for research and hard work.
The student should schedule time to work on the project each day and keep to a regular schedule. It's not acceptable to fiddle around for days on end and then pull an all-nighter just before deadlines. It will show in code and in the evaluation.
This means that students should be working closely with the other developers. Particularly for new projects, students are expected to keep up-to-date and deal with the on-going developments of others (both good and bad) just like any other developer on the project and is conscious of making changes that might break protocol or compatibility. You're not an outsider. You're joining a team.
A developer has the responsibility to work cooperatively with the other developers. Particularly for open source projects, the manner in which everyone commits conveys a lot of information about the status, purpose, and directions of development.
This allows issues to be caught quickly and prevents the dreaded one-massive-commit-before-deadline. Developers can rarely ever commit too frequently. They can very easily commit too infrequently. Once a day is far too infrequent.
The history in version control is frequently the best timeline log of what happened, why, and who did it. The commit messages should be detailed and informative.
If something is bad about one of the changes and someone needs to roll it back, it's more difficult to do so. Make each commits succinct and functional, even if it means a little extra work.
Each commit should at least compile for the person that makes the commit. New developers that break the build are used for target practice.
Frequent communication with your mentor is a must. The student should make sure the mentor has a good idea of:
The mentor is one of the most valuable resources to students. The mentors are generally already solid contributors with a long track record of involvement with the project. The mentor likely has worked on the project for long enough to know the history of decisions, how things are architected, the other people involved, the process for doing things, and all other cultural lore that will help the student be most successful.
Before coding begins, the mentor and student should iron out answers to the following questions:
This forces you to be more organized and it gives your mentor a chance to help you out if you're having trouble.
Are you going on vacation, moving, writing papers for class? If your mentor doesn't know where you'll be or to expect a lag in your productivity, your mentor can't help you course correct or plan accordingly.
The project timeline doesn't allow for unplanned gaps in communication. Students should talk to their mentor at least once a week to update them on their status whether the mentor asks for it or not.
Students should not discuss development in private. This includes refraining from private IRC/Gitter discussions as well as private e-mails even with your mentor unless the discussion involves personal information. Other developers need to be aware of the progress, discussions, and decisions being made even if they're not a part of that process. It also affords other developers the opportunity to get involved if they have an interest. Don't be shy, speak up publicly.
Students should be available via Gitter while they are working. This allows for interactive discussions with other developers and other students as well as increased visibility.
Many of the mentors may not be available on Gitter due to differences in time zones or familiarity with Gitter as a communication medium. Students should get to know their mentor and if GitHub discussions are preferred, the students should also be interactive and visible on the developer mailing list.
Student can call upon any mentor or other developer, they don't have to limit their interactions to just their mentor. They shouldn't limit their interactions to just one mentor. Students having difficulties communicating with any mentor should contact the firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're stuck, ask for help on Gitter and/or on the mailing list. If you are still stuck, read the source code. If you're still stuck, ask for help again. Better questions frequently yield better answers.
It's a good idea for the student to maintain design documents during the course of development. These design documents should cover:
The student and mentor should work out what design document(s) should be maintained during the course of the summer.
'The design documents should be added to the wiki.'
– Thanks –
Thank you to each student for doing your best to follow through with these expectations. Students should consult with any mentor if there are any questions or concerns regarding these expectations.
Many thanks to the Python foundation for their initial write-up document on participant expectations: http://wiki.python.org/moin/SummerOfCode/Expectations