Reflections on the GSoC Mentor Summit 2011

The Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit was on the 22nd and 23rd of October at Google’s Mountain View campus. The Mentor Summit this year saw a much larger attendance than any previous Mentor Summits.  Michael Howden, Fran Boon, Dominic Konig, Pat Tressel and Shikhar Kohli all represented the Sahana Software Foundation at the Mentor Summit this year.

The Mentor Summit is an un-conference i.e. the participants decide the agenda. A lot of fruitful sessions on topics as diverse as code reviews to marketing of open source projects were conducted by the participants. It was a great opportunity for people in the open source community to network and learn from each others’ experiences.

The session on code review policies was particularly interesting. Maintaining code quality and yet encouraging commits by (new) developers is often a tricky business.  For instance, a lengthy review process often discourages new developers whereas inadequate code review dilutes the quality of the code base. Many other projects discussed the solutions and shortcomings they had when it came to code reviews. Tools like Jenkins and Mondrian were discussed at length, and a lot of interesting ideas came forth from representatives of different organizations.

The mentor summit wasn’t all work though. Google made sure that everyone struck a balance between work and play. The chocolate room at the Summit was very well stocked with chocolates from all over the world. The Google Earth booth, t-shirt and sticker exchange and the huge Android phone were thronged by the attendees as well. Delicious food was served at Charlie’s Cafe, with the famous Google ice cream biscuit being the dessert of choice.

Summits like these are a great opportunity for members of the open source community to interact and learn from each other. These meetings strengthen the bonds within and across open source software communities, helping us to remain motivated and committed to changing the world in our own way. Google has done a fantastic job by sponsoring the trips of so many people across countries to get them to work, have fun and change the world.  Thank you, Google!

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Shikhar Kohli was a Google Summer of Code Student with the Sahana Software Foundation in 2010; he has subsequently served as a mentor for the 2010 Google Code-In and for the 2011 Google Summer of Code.  He represented the Sahana Software Foundation at the 2011 Google Doc Summit and GSOC Mentor Summit last week.


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