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Summer of Code: Andrzej Wytyczak-Partyka

-Louis Suárez-Potts

2005-09


Google's Summer of Code program (SoC) was "designed to introduce students to the world of open source software development", and it worked. Successful participants were given a cash reward, but from the accounts provided by those participants, the cash was the least of the reward. The knowledge acquired and community participated in came in first. OpenOffice.org was and is not only a fascinating if challenging codebase to work with but the community made the effort fun, stimulating, and in the words of one respondent, "the best summer of my life."

Over the next week and half, I'll be publishing a short series of accounts by the participants. I begin today with that of Andrzej Wytyczak-Partyka, who developed an extension to OOo's framework enabling tabbed browsing of documents; his work was done in the Framework Project. I asked a set of questions via email over a period of several weeks, the first asking about the Google SoC project, the remainder follow-ups.

Tell us about yourself and how you got interested and involved in OpenOffice.org....

I'm a 3rd year computer science student at the University of Technology in Wroclaw, Poland. I'm also a 1st year student of medicine at the Wroclaw Medical University. I'm 21 years old. I got interested in OOo because it's the biggest, most feature-rich open-source office suite. I use it on a day-to-day basis for my school reports, charts and all other paperwork I do. I volunteered for the development of the Tab Browsing feature because I love this idea inside Firefox and I thought that along with a lot of other people, I would feel the same about tabs inside OOo. There's still some work to do until this reaches the mainstream version, but the goals for the Summer of Code project were accomplished and there is a package for a specific OOo version that provides the Tab Browsing functionality.

Who was your mentor?

My mentor was Andreas Schluens.

What are you thoughts on the Summer of Code?

First of all, when I found out about SoC, early June, I was in the middle of my exams and I was really busy preparing for them. Just a brief look at the pros and cons of participating was enough to decide I had to arrange some time for writing a proposal. I came up with a couple of ideas and some concepts on how to present them.

I submitted the proposals and waited patiently. The information coming from Google about the number of proposals (8000 ?) didn't seem very promising, so when I got my first rejection notice I wasn't really surprised; then the second one came. But then, I got a different email, and I felt a little rush of adrenaline in my veins. I opened it, and found out that I was accepted for working on a project for OpenOffice.org! In a couple of days, I was contacted by my mentoring organisation with information about the mentor I had been assigned to and some technicalities.

From the very first moments up to the end of my work everyone on the maillist related to my project has been very helpful and forthcoming. I owe my mentor - Andreas Schluens - special thanks. He helped me with all my problems, gave me clear explanations and examples when I got lost somewhere along the road, and was also very encouraging and appreciated, with "you're going the right way!" and "great job!" comments !

I guess one of personal issues I had to deal with was a lack of self-confidence. Although it wasn't my first project, I had never worked with something as big as OpenOffice.org nor had I sought approval of my work with someone who has a lot better understanding of and experience in programming than I do.

I think Google has given us as much support in this matter as it could, and there's nothing bad I can say about those guys. They did an awesome job with the Summer of Code, they even opened up a 100 more slots for even more students to be able to work on Open Source. They're giving away over 2 million USD ! That's just crazy.

All I can hope for now is that they'll be holding more events like this, and that, maybe, I'll be accepted again... !

Thanks to Andrzej and Google for sponsoring the (Northern Hemisphere) Summer of Code! In the next few days, leading up to OOoCon 2005, I'll publish other interviews of student developers who had a great summer with OpenOffice.org thanks to Google's Summer of Code.



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