Google Summer of Code: My Experience

This blog post covers my Google Summer of Code experience and it was long awaited. I’ve been procrastinating on writing it for so long so, here it is.

Let’s structure this article into parts so that its easier to read and understand.

A Little About Me.

My name is Adeel, a third year computer science student from Pakistan. And I participated in Google Summer of Code 2019 and worked with Kiwix. I’ve been always a computer guy but I didn’t actually got into programming until I was in university.

I really started hardcore programming since the very first semester. It was difficult at first but then I started enjoying it. Now, I enjoy working in all kinds of frameworks(i.e. Mobile application development/Web application development/Backend stuff, etc). I spend most of my time open sourcing and working on some really cool side projects.

Getting Selected for Google Summer of Code.

I plan on writing a detailed post on how I got selected for Google Summer of Code. So, this section will be empty till then.

How was my experience?

Ahhhh! It was AWESOMEEEEEE! I still miss working every single day for a project I was really passionate about.

It’s impossible to explain my whole GSoC experience but I’ll try to cover as much as I can.

⚡ The project itself

My project was to develop a hotspot application that would allow users to share Wikipedia content offline over a web server. 

👉 Read more about the project.

The impact of this project is huge. Since the Kiwix applications are used in areas where internet is not so easily accessible. It is mostly used in schools in those areas so that students could access their books offline. Previously, every student had to download the Wikipedia content in the Kiwix app first to start reading it offline.

But now, if only the teacher has the books downloaded, he/she can simply host a web server over the mobile device’s hotspot(no internet required) using the Kiwix mobile app and other students can connect to the hotspot and access the books through that web server offline.

Keeping the impact of this project, I was really motivated to work on it every single day. There were even days when I worked 12–14 hours a day. 

There were a lot of technical things that I didn’t knew before GSoC but I learnt them while working on the project. For example: Java Native Interface, Hosting a webserver over Wifi Hotspot, etc.

👉 My GSoC project report.

I’ve covered my progress during each phase, feel free to give it a read:

Coming soon.

😎 Mentorship

Mentorship during GSoC played an important role in making my experience memorable. Siddharth and Abdul were my mentors during GSoC and they never made me feel like I was the only one responsible for the project.

They helped me at every step and guided me throughout the GSoC. Both of them were equally passionate for the project as much as me.

We used to have a weekly call every week to discuss the progress and how we’re gonna move forward. The best part about the calls? They were not just about progress but we used to even discuss our personal lives.

With those discussions I found out that both Siddharth and I were huge FAANG fanboys. And we both had very similar interests as we both used to watch the same YouTubers i.e. TechLead, Joma, Chris Jereza, etc.

Siddharth and I have become great friends now and we’re still in touch even after GSoC.

🤝 Collaboration

During GSoC, I loved collaborating with other members and developers of the Kiwix organizations. Every single one of them had a lot of wisdom to share. Working with them was a huge opportunity as I learnt a lot from their experiences. 

My workflows got optimized and things that would take hours for me to do started being done in minutes.

I’d especially like to thank Sean here as he was the core guy working on the Kiwix Android app and he was always there to help me out. His detailed code reviews help me write better code every single day. Thanks Sean!

🎉 Achievement

My hotspot application was integrated in the Kiwix 3.0 version and it was a huge sense of achievement when it was released in September 2019.

I got to test the beta version of it before release too. I’m loving the positive reviews of users on Google PlayStore and I couldn’t ask for more.

It feels great that I could bring a change in people’s lives!

❤️️ Love for Open Source

One of the biggest things that GSoC has given me is the realization that how important Open Source is. The change that all these open source projects bring is insane.

I plan to continue contributing to my project and enhancing it by adding some even more cool features. And my plans are not just limited to contributing to Kiwix but I’ve also been contributing to many other open source organizations i.e. Mozilla, FossAsia, OpenDataKit, etc.

And yeah, I received the Google Summer of Code SWAG too!

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Please feel free to give your feedback. I’d love to hear from you! Peace!

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