GsoC 2010 Scribus Team Application

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Contents

Questions:

  1. Organization Name: (required)
  2. Description: (required)
  3. Home page: (required)
  4. Main Organization License: (required)
  5. Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2010? What do you hope to gain by participating? (required)
  6. Did your organization participate in past GSoCs? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation. (required)
  7. If your organization participated in past GSoCs, please let us know the ratio of students passing to students allocated, e.g. 2006: 3/6 for 3 out of 6 students passed in 2006. (required). Add a Comment (optional):
  8. If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)? (required)
  9. What is the URL for your ideas page? (required)
  10. What is the main development mailing list for your organization? This question will be shown to students who would like to get more information about applying to your organization for GSoC 2010. If your organization uses more than one list, please make sure to include a description of the list so students know which to use. (required)
  11. What is the main IRC channel for your organization? (required). Add a Comment (optional):
  12. Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now. Please note that it is a very good idea to ask students to provide you with their contact information as part of your template. Their contact details will not be shared with you automatically via the GSoC 2010 site. (required).
  13. What criteria did you use to select the individuals who will act as mentors for your organization? Please be as specific as possible: (required)
  14. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students? (required)
  15. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors? (required)
  16. What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before, during and after the program? (required)
  17. What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes? (required)
  18. Is there anything else you would like to tell the Google Summer of Code program administration team? : (required). Add a Comment (optional):
  19. Backup Admin (Link ID):

Answers:

Organization Name:

  • The Scribus Team

Description:

  • The Scribus Team includes the core development group and an ever larger circle of code, translation, testing, and user support contributors located on every continent who cooperate to develop Scribus – Open Source program that brings award-winning professional page layout to Linux/UNIX, Mac OS X, OS/2, and Windows desktops with a combination of "press-ready" output and new approaches to page layout. Scribus provides professional publishing features, such as color separations, ICC color management, versatile PDF creation and pre-flight verification, as well as a Python scripting engine. In the Linux/UNIX and OS/2 worlds, Scribus is the only professional-grade Open Source Desktop Publishing Software, and on Win32 and Mac OS X, Scribus is used by an ever increasing number of professional, as well as demanding amateur users.

Home page:

Main Organization License:

  • GPLv2 or later

Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2010? What do you hope to gain by participating?

  • Desktop Publishing is a very complex process that requires a well-designed workflow with its pinnacle being the layout software. This complexity is reflected in the commercial market dominated by two software companies with no interest in platforms other than Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X that are often not responsive to customer input. Without Scribus there would be no Open Source desktop layout on alternative platforms, and the ability of people in the developing world and users of Free Software to produce professional level documents would not exist. Impressively, Scribus grew out of its humble beginnings as an application for making restaurant menus into a professional level piece of software that rivals products with huge budgets and large vendors behind them.

However, because of the high complexity of DTP workflows and the capacity limitations of the development team, the development of Scribus is targeted to the areas with the highest return for our users, whose input is invaluable. Unfortunately, this means that smaller projects end up with lower priority on the roadmap (http://bugs.scribus.net/roadmap_page.php). GSoC is our best opportunity to attract developmental resources to address these useful smaller projects, while allowing participating students to gain valuable experience of designing and coding solutions that will have a practical use for thousands of DTP professionals and amateurs all around the globe, as our growing list of user success stories shows (http://wiki.scribus.net/index.php/Success_stories). The dynamic of Scribus development is such that there is a constant feedback loop between many of our users, including professional ones, and the development team. This means that GSoC student participants will get support and advice from top-notch DTP and pre-press professionals, as well as our entire core team, not just their assigned mentors. Moreover, participating in the GSoC 2010 program would give us an exposure to a large field of potential contributors who would have an incentive to get over the entry barrier to Scribus development to complete their GSoC project and hopefully become interested in becoming a part of our team as two previous GSoC participants have already done.

Did your organization participate in past GSoCs? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation.

  • We participated in GSoC 2007, 2008, and 2009. Our GSoC 2007 participants added math formula editing support via LaTeX frames – and a basic imposition (booklet printing) plugin. Both projects were completed successfully. GSoC 2008 brought in a new generation Python scripter, versatile vector and bitmap import via UniConvertor and GraphicsMagick, and a well-polished picture browser. GSoC 2009 work added PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-4 export and improved the PDF embedding functionality.

What we perceive as our successes is the fact that two of our GSoC students joined our team and another one became a contributor. In 2007 we went through the learning curve without major problems while learning a lot about selecting students, managing mentor-student communications and expectations, and finding problems before they turn into major obstacles. This allowed us to streamline the GSoC 2008 selection and mentoring processes and achieve a 100% success rate in our second year.

In 2009, our efficient process organization allowed us to quickly identify the gaps between students' credentials presented during the selection process and their ability to communicate and produce results once the projects started. We quickly culled projects with no hope of successful completion and prevented waste of GSoC funds whereas the student who was open to communication and problem resolution received all the help needed for successful completion of their project.

Our challenges throughout those three years were consistently related to the students' communication difficulties and students lack of planning and appreciation for the complexity of the GSoC projects. In one case, time was lost due to a student's withdrawal when confronted with coding problems. In another case, two the students had problems connecting with their mentors on IRC due to the time differences and network access difficulties, but they were able to switch to email and to use it in a productive manner in conjunction with the use of subversion branches. Fortunately, we had a supporting infrastructure that helped continue the flow of code and reviews. In 2009, two of our students did not make us aware of their school commitments that effectively made them drop out of GSoC as they were not able to commit sufficient resources to their projects. A third student had to cancel GSoC due to a serious family-related issue.

If your organization participated in past GSoCs, please let us know the ratio of students passing to students allocated, e.g. 2006: 3/6 for 3 out of 6 students passed in 2006.

  • 2007: 2/2, 2008: 3/3, 2009: 1/4.

If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?

  • n/a

What is the URL for your ideas page?

What is the main development mailing list for your organization? This question will be shown to students who would like to get more information about applying to your organization for GSoC 2010. If your organization uses more than one list, please make sure to include a description of the list so students know which to use.

http://lists.scribus.info/mailman/listinfo/scribus is used for user support and community discussions. We also set up GSoC-specific lists http://lists.scribus.info/mailman/listinfo/gsoc-announce and http://lists.scribus.info/mailman/listinfo/gsoc. Prospective students are encouraged to contact us as described in http://wiki.scribus.net/index.php/GSoC_2010_Contact_Information.

What is the main IRC channel for your organization?

  • #scribus on FreeNode. We also use #scribus-dev for more specific development-related discussions.

Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now. Please note that it is a very good idea to ask students to provide you with their contact information as part of your template. Their contact details will not be shared with you automatically via the GSoC 2010 site.

==What criteria did you use to select the individuals who will act as mentors for your organization? Please be as specific as possible: ==

  • All of our mentors are members of the core Scribus development team. Beside the familiarity with Scribus code they possess other qualities that are useful for successful development of this type of software:
    * Familiarity and experience with the prepress technologies;
    * Knowledge of the existing open source technologies applied to desktop publishing;
    * Experience in mentoring junior coders, possibly from an academic environment;
    * In-depth knowledge of user requirements.
    We made sure that only those members of our development team were selected for the mentoring teamwho would be able to dedicate sufficient time and efforts to mentoring of GSoC students and had excellent communication abilities. Our efforts are directed towards selecting mentor-student pairs that will be passionate about the project and have excellent communication and willingness to work together to overcome any difficulties that might arise in the process. Moreover, we are confident that we have sufficient overlap in codebase knowledge and willingness to support each other among our mentors to be able to provide seamless support for our students.

What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?

  • Our mentors will keep in touch with students and perform at least weekly reviews of the students' work via email reports and IRC discussions. We will strongly encourage students to practice continuous involvement in the activity on our IRC channel and mailing list. We are going to be very proactive in our mentor-student communication efforts to avoid student withdrawal in case problems crop up by keeping email and IRC channels open and asking students about any problems they might have. We will use students' plans we request on our participation requirements page to monitor their progress and practice timely intervention should the need arise. We will regularly monitor the students' commits to their assigned subversion branches. Our main concern is that we must avoid having students that will only produce promises and vague assurances of their activity instead of the actual code. Frequent reviews and actively solicited involvement in our public developmental process should keep the communication between students and the rest of the team open and will allow us to monitor the progress of the students. In the most unfortunate case – when a student will actually disappear – we plan to contact the second runner-up candidate to see if he or she would like to continue the project, or we will fold the project into our main development plan and ask Google to withhold the final payment from the student who has disappeared to make sure that GSoC funds are not wasted.

==What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors? ==

  • We have gone to great length to make sure our entire team stands behind the GSoC effort and there is sufficient overlap in codebase knowledge and mentor-student interaction to avoid any interruption in student project support in case one of our mentors becomes ill or needs to step away from the project due to personal matters. In addition, open monitoring of the student's progress via our public mailing list and IRC channel and subversion commits will allow the rest of our team to keep watch on the GSoC progression. We also have more than one backup administrator and all members of the administrative team will be overseeing the monitoring and reporting activities of the GSoC projects.

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

  • Community participation is a hard requirement this year. We do not intend to select any students who do not show that they are willing and able to communicate with our team and with the Scribus Community. We conduct much of our development discussion on IRC and ask students to be present there as much as possible. Over the years we have found that the open and friendly atmosphere characteristic of our mailing list and IRC channels has helped a number of people make a transition from Scribus users to contributors and to team members. We believe that by exposing students to this friendly and encouraging environment we can foster their sense of involvement and help them see how their accomplishments help the entire community as much as being rewarding learning experiences for themselves. The absence of interpersonal conflicts given the large number of contributors to our communication channels and rapid pace of development shows that this strategy has been productive.

==What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes? ==

  • We know that we cannot force anyone to become involved into the Scribus community and Scribus development. What we can and will do is encourage students to participate in the Scribus community before, during, and after GSoC and hope that the learning experiences they go through while communicating with mentors and participating in our mailing list and IRC discussions with developers and users will create in them a sense of belonging to a fun-loving and friendly community. We will attempt to help them see the value of continuous participation in Scribus development by making sure that they are growing as developers and as human beings. We think that as long as the students learn, enjoy their participation and create a bond with the larger Scribus community there is a good chance that they will continue their involvement after the GSoC concludes.

Is there anything else you would like to tell the Google Summer of Code program administration team?

  • As an open source project, we take pride in having created a nurturing and friendly environment for our developers to work in. Without a doubt the project has benefited from its relationship with GSoC over the years, and we take very seriously our responsibility to mentor our students through their projects. We hope to continue to be able to deserve the trust that the GSoC team has given us in the past and each year the program continues. Thank you for giving us these opportunities.

Backup Admin (Link ID):

  • mrdocs