Public Lab Research note

Be a mentor for Public Lab in Google Summer of Code 2017

by warren | February 08, 2017 21:58 08 Feb 21:58 | #13910 | #13910

Google Summer of Code (#GSoC) is a program where Google supports students to work on open source coding projects for the summer. It has been an invaluable resource and a tremendous support for the work we do, from the MapKnitter project, which has been used to put community-produced image maps into Google Maps, to Spectral Workbench, our DIY spectrometry project, to, our open collaborative platform used by thousands (this very site!).

GSoC is an ideal program for us -- we work in the open, transparently and across borders, and many GSoC students from past years, and from around the world, have found contributing and joining our community to be fulfilling. Read about their work under the #gsoc tag!

This summer, we're applying again to the program, and starting to compile project ideas for students to look over in composing their own applications. We're not in the program yet, but it's not too early to do this -- check out some of the ideas here:

How you can help

We're looking for people -- no coding experience necessary -- to be mentors to students this summer. You'll be the voice of the community in shaping new features, but you don't need to be a coder -- we have contributors ready to help out in that respect already.

Mentors need about an hour per week, minimum, to help out, and this can be spread over several days. Read a bit more about what it means to be a mentor here:

If you're interested, or have any questions, please reach out in the comments here, or to -- we'd love to hear from you. We really work as a team, which is how we're able to ask for such a light commitment -- it's great to have a number of folks ready to talk to students, even just about time management, or to be encouraging!

What we'd work on this summer

We've put up a variety of projects in our listing, but here are couple great ones that might pique your interest!

Wiki discussion

Part of: /

Description: Commenting inside a wiki document, and/or making suggestions, is an important planned feature for making wiki pages more interactive and discussion-oriented. We have several rich wiki features coming together, and more Google Docs-type features on our pages would make contributing to Public Lab easier. This would probably involve inserting expandable forms between paragraphs (perhaps like our Prompts system) and displaying expandable comment icons alongside text, with full comment display as in a Google Doc.


Prerequisites: Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, Bootstrap

Difficulty Level: medium

Potential mentors: Jeff Warren

Map of projects

Part of:

Description: A browseable map of projects (wiki pages tagged with "project" tag) for people to find and learn about projects near them. We'd probably use Leaflet maps such as shown on, and upon clicking on map marker, you'd see things like the title, lead image, # of contributors, and topics of interest. This would require both JavaScript work with Leaflet and Ruby on Rails work to generate the listings, as well as interface design work to develop the browse-able map interface.


Prerequisites: JavaScript, Ruby on Rails

Difficulty Level: medium

Potential mentors: Jeff Warren (@warren), Stevie Lewis (@stevie)



Login to comment.