GSoC/2009-MentoringApplication

This is meant as a temporary page for the darcs application to be a Google Summer of Code mentoring organisation, due 2009-03-09


  1. Describe your organization.

    • Darcs is a free, open source distributed revision control system. It is based on an advanced ‘theory of patches’ and is written in Haskell.
    • The darcs team supports the continued development of darcs by hosting the official darcs repository, website and bugtracker; and by organising regular darcs coding sprints, performing fundraising and otherwise seeking ways to increase the participation of darcs users in development.
  2. Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2009? What do you hope to gain by participating?

    • More time to hack on darcs!
    • We love darcs. We think it is unique in the revision control world because it uses the full patch history to get operations like merging and partial undos exactly right. But we also know that it has a lot of warts: the “patch theory” is still a work in progress, it has not yet been optimised to deal with large repositories, and it’s still a little behind in GUIs and web interfaces.
    • These are things that that take a lot of time and concerted effort to work on, which is why we’re so excited by the opportunity that a GSoC project would provide. Our goal is to create as much space as possible for us to work on darcs, for example, by getting “20% time” arrangements with our employers, holding biannual darcs hacking sprints, cooperating with lecturers to develop student projects, and actively participating in programs like Google Summer of Code. In the bigger picture, we hope that the darcs project can be a regular participant in the Google Summer of Code program.
  3. Did your organization participate in past GSoCs? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation.
  4. No. But we have had a successful project under the umbrella of the Haskell.org, Jason Dagit, 2007 mentored by David Roundy.

  5. Being part of the Haskell community has been very good for darcs. We can think of Haskell.org as a sort of incubator for projects: the community has given us ideas, advice and programmers. But by now, we have grown to the point, where it would make sense for us to stand our own, and for the Haskell community to concentrate on its smaller projects.

  6. Jason has stayed with the darcs community for a year since his Summer of Code project and has gone on to do a Masters thesis with David Roundy based on his work. Unfortunately, he has recently had to cut back on his darcs activity, but we will still be in touch with him for advice on future projects.

His work provided us with a much needed false start. As most of his time was spent getting to grips with the darcs patch theory and learning about the deeper parts of the code, we did not get as much implementation work done as we would have liked. But we did a good foundational piece of code started (the use of type witnesses), and some preliminary work on darcs-2. While we did not end up using the latter code, it did help us to get a better idea on how darcs-2 should work, which allowed us to eventually release darcs 2 in January 2008.

Furthermore, we now have a somewhat better idea what kind of work is suitable and realistic for the summer. With his advice, we will be more careful to make sure that projects are better defined and easier to get started on right away.

  1. If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?
  2. No

  3. What license(s) does your project use?

    The GPL. We are also interested in spinning out or rewriting some of our our code as standalone libraries, for which we may decide that the BSD license is most appropriate.

  4. What is the URL for your ideas page? http://wiki.darcs.net/index.html/GoogleSummerOfCode

  5. What is the main development mailing list or forum for your organization?

  6. What is the main IRC channel for your organization? #darcs on irc.freenode.net

  7. Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now. We will use the same template as the Haskell community http://hackage.haskell.org/trac/summer-of-code/wiki/StudApply2008

  8. Who will be your backup organization administrator? Please include Google Account information. Ganesh Sittampalam

  9. Who will your mentors be? Please include Google Account information.
  10. Eric KOW - eric.kow
  11. Ganesh SITTAMPALAM - ganesh.sittampalam
  12. Ian LYNAGH igloo earth.li
  13. KIDO Takahiro - shelarcy

  14. What criteria did you use to select these individuals as mentors? Please be as specific as possible.
  15. Eric is the darcs project maintainer and has time specifically set aside in his week for working on darcs. Ganesh and Ian are very experienced Haskell programmers, and have made substantial contributions to darcs and darcs theory. Takahiro is an active member of the wxHaskell team and would be extremely helpful for any projects that involve build a darcs graphical user interface.

  16. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?
  17. We will work the same way as the Haskell community. We will choose students who are reliable in the first place. Also, we will expect our students to produce a weekly progress report, chasing after a week and dropping them after two weeks.
  18. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?
  19. Each project will have a backup mentor. If this is not enough, we will call on the wider darcs and Haskell community
  20. What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project’s community before, during and after the program?
  21. Before - if they aren’t already regulars, we will invite our students to hang out in #darcs where they can interact with the community and get a guided tour of the source code.
  22. During - we will encourage them to blog their progress (which will appear on http://planet.darcs.net)). Also, our Darcs Weekly News editor will keep in touch with them and produce regular summaries of their work.
  23. After - patches which are related to the student’s work would definitely go their way. We’ll also work on making them part of the darcs team, as below.
  24. What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes?
  25. The satisfaction of your getting your code in darcs, something that real people rely on is quite addictive. It’s how some of us got started anyway. We will also engage the students more actively by inviting them to our darcs hacking sprints (and helping to pay for their travel if we have the funds). We will also try to involve them in darcs team jobs. For example, we have a Review Team which we rely on to check all our incoming code. Students would be encouraged to participate in this team.

See also