[GSoC 22] Important FAQ - Read this first

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Stefan Kutschera

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Apr 13, 2022, 6:05:08 AM4/13/22
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Dear all,

We're happy and honored to be part of this year's GSoC again as a mentor-organization!  :)

From previous years we know that you all have many questions and we want to help you as well as possible!

However, since we're all volunteers too, time and resources are limited... therefore we decided to provide some FAQs that might help you!

Q: What are the first steps to contribute to Catrobat?
A: First of all we would recommend visiting our special developer’s website https://developer.catrobat.org, where you can find all information about the project and how to be part of it. Furthermore, you should get our free app “Pocket Code” (  https://catrob.at/pc  on Android PlayStore or https://catrob.at/PCios on iOS) and create your own programs or games with it.

To get to know our code please look up https://github.com/catrobat and follow our issue tracking system https://jira.catrob.at 

Q: Where can I find the ideas page?
A: Here you go: https://catrob.at/gsoc22. If you have other ideas which would be cool for Pocket Code, don’t hesitate to write us! However, please note that we will not accept ideas that have nothing in common with Catrobat or are just very peripherally connected to our work, e.g., personal projects that should be mentored, or projects from totally different domains.

Q: Can I contact the mentors directly?
A: Unfortunately our mentors would get overwhelmed with messages if we would do it that way, though we will try. However, most questions can also be answered by other mentors and/or are of general interest. So please use this mailing list as a communication channel. Thanks! Please also note that requests on social media just can get answered slowly and the answer will probably refer to this group - so you're fine here ;)

Q: Is there a special template for the proposal?
A: For your proposal please use the template https://catrob.at/gsoc22application provided on our organization page at https://summerofcode.withgoogle.com/programs/2022/organizations/international-catrobat-association and follow the instructions there. Please do not request access to the document - just copy and paste it into a new one that you use for your proposal. Please note that we require you to use this template since from experience we know that many points that are important to us will otherwise be missing in the individual proposals.

Q: Can I submit my proposal to you directly, e.g., via E-Mail?
A: No. Please be aware of the official GSoC timeline and rules. All proposals have to be submitted via the official timeline during the Student Application Period. Further information on: https://developers.google.com/open-source/gsoc/faq . We will not and cannot accept or view any applications that get mailed to us outside of the official website.

Q: What do I have to keep in mind for my proposal?
A: Please take a closer look at our template and answer all questions in it. We also ask you to get familiar with some practices (like test driven development or extreme programming), so please do some research on it. It's not an examination, we just want to see if you understand how we're working, and what contributing to Catrobat would look like ;)

Q: What skills do I need to contribute?
A: This depends on the project you want to work on. We prefer that students have previous and advanced experience in the respective field and can show us some projects they’ve already worked on (nevertheless, this is not a must-have, we also take other aspects into consideration for choosing students for GSoC). 

Q: Do you prefer any projects for GSoC?
A: No. Since we suggest them on our ideas page we like all of them. Choose any one of these projects on our list you feel comfortable with! We are looking for good students for all of them, and if your proposal is good, we will ask Google for a slot for you. 

Q: Do you require students to have contributed to Catrobat before?
A: Of course, it's a benefit, especially for you since you know already what the project is about. But since GSoC is about getting new students into FOSS projects, we do not require any previous contribution (but we're happy if you want to contribute to FOSS projects after GSoC!). If you understand what our project is about, what our vision is, and you have programming experience, we're totally happy with it. If you contributed before or have created great Pocket Code programs, please share that information with us within your proposal!

Q: If I'm interested in several projects/ideas - how many proposals should I submit?
A: Just one. Mention in this one application which ideas/fields you're interested in and we will consider all projects you reference there.

Q: How should I submit the proposal and coding examples?
A: Please only submit your proposal on the official GSoC website! Provide references or examples there (e.g., Copy-Paste or a link to Github, etc.). Due to the organizational overhead (and we want that all our mentors can see every proposal), we won't consider/review any documents, examples or proposals that we receive via E-mail or other channels. We just want to see if you know what you're doing and whether you do have some coding experience/knowledge - that's what this question is about.

Q: Will you give feedback to proposals?
A: Please be aware that we usually receive many proposals at the same time. So it's hard for us to review proposals before the student application deadline (also since we would have to re-review them every time they change). If you use our template and follow the instructions you're totally fine. We want to get to know you and your work, so it wouldn't make any sense to propose you any answers either ;)

Q: How will the proposals be reviewed and how will students get selected?
A: Our team of mentors, Org admins, and senior contributors will take a look at all proposals and review them. We take several aspects into consideration, e.g., skills, interest in FOSS, understanding our vision/project, passion, and a few other meaningful ones. It's more about a feeling how a certain student will do on a project and how passionate she or he will be within our org.  

Q: When/how will the selected students get notified?
A:   Students will get notified as explained in the official timeline. We will not give any information to you before the date stated on the website (so even if you ask as via mail we can't say anything, and that's according to the rules from Google). You will get notified via Mail and the GSoC website. We're sorry that we can't provide personal explanations about possible acceptance or rejection, since many aspects are taken into account for our decisions, and often it also depends on the number of slots we actually get from Google. 

Q: How to contribute to get prepared for GSoC?
A: We would prefer if the suggested ideas get implemented during the coding period by one student (since the tasks are mostly connected to each other) and not as part of the preparation. We highly recommend to fork our development branch and create your own personal branch on your GitHub repository. Implement features or fix bugs, do refactorings, add tests, etc, whatever you think Catrobat needs, and share with us your code examples in the application. Be aware that Pocket Code is released on Google Play, iTunes, and the Huawei app store, so pull requests get checked manually for quality, issues, and project policies (clean code, all features automatically tested,...). That is why it takes some time to review pull requests by our senior members. We cannot guarantee that they will be reviewed during the application period. So once again: we highly recommend to fork them into your local repo and submitting that as code examples.

Q: What skills do you require from GSoC students?
A: We do not require you to be an expert developer (that's not what FOSS is about). However, we require that you have basic skills in the programming language you'll be working in (e.g., Kotlin, Swift, PHP, JavaScript, Catrobat) - mentoring is not about teaching how to code, it's more about advising how to design a solution that fits the existing code. 

Furthermore, we would like to see that you're passionate about FOSS and especially that you can work independently (of course there is mentoring, however, we want you to work on the idea, not the mentor - he's just backing you ;) ).

Q: How to work with tickets on Jira? What's the workflow?
Once again: Please look up the question "How to contribute to get prepared for GSoC?" 
We appreciate it if you want to actively contribute from the very beginning. But since we're developing an app that is published on the big play stores, with as of now 5 million downloads and 350,000 active users, we have a responsibility to keep high-quality standards, and have strong project-related policies. So before working on real tasks we recommend to work locally on implementing some basic features (e.g., a new brick, missing tests, ...) -> that's also how the selected students will start in the coding period ;)
If you still choose to work on tickets, start with a TRAINING ticket you can clone from https://jira.catrob.at/browse/CATROID-390, and then only that one has been merged can you start working on a BEGINNER level ticket (exceptions may exist if you really know a lot already). If you don't follow these steps you are probably implementing something that is too complex for you (like being able to write automatic tests for it).
Also please only take one issue after another. Once your PR is reviewed you will probably have to make some changes before it can be merged. If you have too many open issues you will have a hard time keeping track of everything.

Q: Do I have to work on tickets as Code example?
That would be great. However, if you want to contribute to our repo you have to follow the workflow 100%.

Another good resource for information are previous postings here - so it's worth looking them up ;)

We will also update this thread if there are recurring questions.

Have fun with our project and we're looking forward to your proposals!

Best,
Stefan and Wolfgang
- Catrobat Org Admins
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