Google Summer of Code 2012 wrap-up: thank you!

‘Tis the season to give thanks for all that we have been fortunate to receive over the past year! Well, actually, as a Canadian that time was well over a month ago, and even the Americans in the crowd celebrated Thanksgiving last week. Given my tardiness, I hope it’s not too late to celebrate the accomplishments of four students over the summer. Back in March, we were all excited to hear that Evergreen had been accepted into the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) program for the second year in a row. This year, we were offered four student internships, up from two slots in 2011–an encouraging sign about the maturity of our project.

  • Josheph Lewis returned for his second year in the program. In 2011, he built a greatly enhanced Library Settings user interface that included search filters and setting histories. This year, he worked on one of the crucial tasks of upgrading our core infrastructure from the aging Dojo 1.3 to a more modern version of Dojo, and along with his code contributions he left us with valuable advice on how to proceed with finalizing the work. Joseph’s mentor was Thomas Berezansky from the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium.
  • Swenyu Duan tackled the challenge of optimizing Evergreen’s search performance by porting some of Evergreen’s core database routines from PL/Perl to C. Swenyu’s work leveraged the ICU Unicode library for normalization and built on libxml and libxslt2 to provide C-language versions of some routines used in merging and overlaying bibliographic records. Ultimately, he found that the gains to be had from porting to C were minimal–one of the hard lessons that we often run into as developers is that theory does not work out in practice–but learned a lot about measuring performance and creating extensions for PostgreSQL and shared his lessons on his blog. Swenyu’s mentor was Mike Rylander from Equinox Software.
  • Pranjal Prabhash joined us for the summer to work on building a standard OpenSRF library for PHP, so that developers will have the ability to easily integrate Evergreen with common Web frameworks like Drupal and discovery layers like VuFind. Building on some of previous efforts in this area, Pranjal was able to build a functioning OpenSRF PHP library and turned his efforts towards the end of his time towards preparing the code to be accepted by the PEAR project. Pranjal blogged about his progress and was mentored by Lebbeous Fogle-Weekley from Equinox Software.
  • Daniel Rizea stepped up to work on another common wishlist item, an Android client for Evergreen. His efforts included both a patron-oriented application and an application containing a subset of the staff client. Daniel’s work exercised and refined Evergreen’s support for Java and resulted in functional code (ed. I know of at least one university that has built an experimental app based on Daniel’s code). Daniel wrote about his efforts on his blog and was mentored by Dan Wells from the Hekman Library, Calvin College.

In summary, we were fortunate to have been able to work with four students over the course of the summer. I like to think that we helped them gain important experience in working in a large distributed software project, and hope that (when exams are over and course projects are out of the way!) that we’ll continue to see them in the IRC channel and on the mailing lists.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Google Open Source Programs Office for supporting the Evergreen project by accepting our application to GSoC this year and so generously providing stipends for four students. Google also covered the costs for both Thomas Berezansky and I to attend the GSoC Mentors’ Summit in October, where we met up with hundreds of other developers from open source projects to make connections and exchange experiences and insights during a two-day unconference at the Mountain View Google campus.

About Dan Scott

I'm the systems librarian for Laurentian University, with a background in information architecture, database software development, and project planning from spending 8 years with IBM.