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GSoC 2010 Mentor Summit and Git Together Wrap Up


So many amazing things happened at the Google Summer of Code Mentor summit 2010! I will try to jot a few of them down, before they leave for warmer climates. For those that just want to read all the session notes, you can find them here. Also, if you haven't yet read about how The Perl Foundation and Parrot Foundation fared this summer, you can read about it on the Google Open Source Blog.

It began by arriving a bit early to work with some awesome people on improving the GSoC Mentor Manual by adding a chapter for Organization Admins (there is actually documentation now!) and writing a GSoC Student Manual. This "book sprint" was facilitated by Adam Hyde of FLOSSManuals, and they were written with a completely open source software stack, as well as being released under a Creative Commons license. They are free for anyone to read online and are easily exportable to many formats. Read the Student Manual or the Mentor+Org Admin Manual online now! We even bound 60 copies of the books and handed them out to mentors attending the summit.

Parrot on RTEMS hacking with Chris Johns and Ralf from RTEMS. We used Centos 5 RPMS on Ubuntu 10.04 with rpm2cpio piped to cpio, which was a trick to get around the fact that RTEMS does not have debian packages. It worked remarkably well. I had a cross-compilation environment setup after a few minutes. I think they will be adding these intructions to their wiki. Now that I have the RTEMS toolchain on my netbook, I will be much more productive with regard to Parrot on RTEMS.

Chromatic, Chris Johns and I sat in a room and talked shop about how Parrot and RTEMS can play nicely together. There are still some feature voids on the Parrot side to fill: Parrot calls exit() in various places, which reboots RTEMS i.e. a syntax error reboots the OS. Not Fun. Parrot also needs a C probe to detect RTEMS, which already has a ticket in our bug tracker. A real-time garbage collector will be needed for long-running processes, but for short-lived applications, disabling the GC with the -G command line argument to Parrot will work.

I gave a session with Selena Deckelmann and Bart Massey introducing Troll University, which aims to educate organizations, corporations and open source communities about what motivations and principles trolls use and how to protect against them. We are working on some Trollcasts, so stay tuned!

I also gave a session called Dynamic Language Interoperability, which has been held for the last few years, to my knowledge. The consensus seemed to be that every dynamic language has the same interop problems, and Parrot VM seems to be the only project working hard to solve these complex issues in a general manner. This gives me a lot of hope that people will soon realize that Parrot is full of WIN.

It also came to my attention during the conference that Github hired the student that mentored under them this year to work on libgit2. This is one example of the amazing opportunities that students have after completing a Google Summer of Code. The sky really is the limit. And just in case you think this is an isolated incident, it isn't.

As if writing some books and going the Mentor Summit wasn't enough to totally drain me, I am currently attending the last day of the GIT Together 2010, which is the yearly Git developer and user meetup/unconferencey thing. I have learned so much that I can't even begin to describe it, but if you want to look at session notes, you can find them here.

Google Summer of Code 2010 Final Summary


Google Summer of Code is a global program that offers student developers summer stipends to write code for various open source software projects. Google Summer of Code 2010 went by quickly, and much was accomplished. The Perl Foundation and Parrot Foundation took part this year, and we were lucky to get proposals from very bright and capable students. We started the summer with 10 students and had 8 students pass their final evaluations. The passing projects include:

Ryan Jendoubi -- Ctypes for Perl
Mentor: Reini Urban

This project is exciting many Perl developers, because it would minimize the need to use XS, which will make many more pure-Perl modules possible. This improves portability, becaue XS-based modules are notorious for being fragile across operating systems and compiler versions. This adds up to a whole lot of WIN.

Nat Tuck -- Hybrid Threads for Parrot
Mentor: Andrew Whitworth

Threads allow a single program to use more than one CPU, which is becoming increasingly important these days. Even mobile phones are multicore! This work aimed at adding threading support to Parrot Virtual Machine. Much was accomplished, but this effort is still on-going. So-called "green threads" were implemented, which is a necessary step to get Hybrid threads working.

Tyler Curtis -- A PAST Optimization Framework for Parrot
Mentor: chromatic

This project is about providing a framework for optimizing PASTs (Parrot Abstract Syntax Trees). This will be used by language implementors when optimizing their HLLs (High Level Languages). This framework allows all languages on Parrot to benefit from optimizations that are written once, instead of each language implementor writing their own optimizations.

Daniel Arbelo Arrocha -- NFG and single-representation strings for Parrot
Mentor: Allison Randal

NFG stands for Normal Form Grapheme, and basically means having a standard internal representation of Unicode strings, so that very expensive conversions do not have to repeatedly take place. This makes string-heavy computations much faster and unifies a lot of code.

Carl Masak -- Add support for binary data in Rakudo
Mentor: Jonathan Worthington

Rakudo Perl 6 now supports various binary data formats that were implemented as part of this project. Many relevant tests were also added to the Perl 6 Spec Test Suite as well as improvements and clarifications to the Perl 6 Specification.

Muhd Khairul Syamil Hashim -- Instrumentation Tool for Parrot
Mentor: Christoph Otto

This instrumentation tool for Parrot allows one to dynamically peek into the execution of Parrot op-codes. This allows for writing profiling tools that can answer questions like "who calls functions X" and "how many Objects of type X were created."

John Harrison -- Improvements to NCI/LLVM Stack Frame Builder for Parrot
Mentor: Peter Lobsinger

This project is a prerequisite for a JIT (Just In Time compilation) framework, which is an important goal for the Parrot community, since Parrot decided that our old JIT subsystem was broken beyond repair and removed it. Parrot has decided to use the very popular LLVM project in our rewrite of our JIT, and this project brings us a step closer on our journey.

Pawel Murias -- Mildew and SMOP on CPAN
Mentor: Daniel Ruoso

This project involved working on Mildew and SMOP. Mildew is a Perl 6 implementation, and SMOP is the library Mildew uses for meta-object programming. You can think of Mildew as a sister to Rakudo Perl 6. Having many implemenations of Perl 6 helps to better define the Perl 6 specification. Updated versions of SMOP and Mildew are now available on CPAN.

The failing projects were:

Justin Hunter -- Rework Catalyst framework instance initialization code
Mentor: Florian Ragwitz

Mirko Westermeier -- Bulletproofing the Mojolicious test suite
Mentor: Marcus Ramberg 

Both of these projects passed their midterms, but due to circumstances outside of the program, these students were not able to complete their goals for their final evaluation. Sometimes Real Life throws you a curve ball, like starting a new job, moving to a new city, having a baby and similar things. We wish these students the best of luck, and hope that they complete their projects outside the structure of GSoC.

I am very proud and humbled by all the students and mentors that I worked with this year. I am constantly reminded that there are very intelligent developers that are very young, and The Perl Foundation and Parrot Foundation is very lucky to attract them and have them in our communities. I firmly believe that the passing GSoC 2010 projects have made a large positive impact on our codebases and many people will benefit from them for years to come.

Rock on and keep spreading the Open Source love!

Google Summer of Code 2010

I am working on the application for The Perl Foundation and Parrot
to participate in Google Summer of Code 2010. GSoC is a
program where Google funds eligible students to hack on open source
projects for a summer. It is a great opportunity for the students and
the communities that mentor them. You also may be interested in this
summary of our involvement last year . Our application will be
submitted by the end of this week.

Please join us in getting prepared for this year. There is a page for
possible mentors to volunteer as well as a page for 
project ideas . If you would like to help with the wiki, our 
main GSoC page is the best place to start. You are also invited to join 
our mailing list  and come ask questions in #soc-help on .

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