Monday, April 20, 2009

And the Summer of Code is set!

Well, Google finally announced the list of accepted students for this year's Summer of Code. You can read about our accepted proposals here. Of course, we're all very excited about the projects we've chosen for this year. We have two students returning to us this year, both with projects that will be hugely important moving forward. Those students are Eric Polino and Sulabh Mahajan.

Eric has chosen to work on GObjectification, which will move libpurple from using our own object system to taking advantage of the GObject capabilities of GLib, one of our existing dependencies. As a result of this project, a massive amount of libpurple infrastructure will change, allowing us to leverage a tried and true typing system and giving plugins an incredible amount of increased flexibility by allowing them to subclass objects and providing interfaces they can implement. This will, of course, have huge rammifications for everyone using libpurple--us, plugin authors, Adium's authors, and even the Instantbird authors. We're confident the result will be worth the effort, though.

Sulabh has volunteered to take on the Privacy Rewrite. What makes this such a daunting task is that the protocols we support provide a very wide range of privacy options, some of which are unique. For example, ICQ supports an "invisible" list and a "visible" list in addition to a "block" list and probably a number of other things that I'm forgetting. Sulabh will have to look at what all our protocols support and provide a foundation in libpurple for all the protocol plugins to provide the privacy options their protocol allows for. Additionally, he'll have to smooth over the differences between protocols to make things consistent.

In addition to these projects, we've accepted two proposals for native Windows user interfaces. Each project will take a different approach to achieve the same goal--providing a user interface that fits better into a Windows desktop than Pidgin currently does. I've already seen a few complaints that we accepted two projects for this. Quite frankly, I don't understand the complaints. We chose two projects for two reasons--first, we want to have the highest possible chance to better serve our Windows users, and second, it's entirely possible that a single Windows UI project won't be able to do enough to satisfy all our users. Having two Windows UIs will allow each to focus on whichever set of users it is more appropriate for.

We've also accepted projects that will make XMPP transports based on libpurple, allow libpurple to use telepathy protocol support in addition to or instead of our own, and using webkit for our message displays. Each of these projects is going to be challenging in its own right. Of all the projects, the XMPP transports will certainly be the least user-visible, as the transports will run on an XMPP server. Conversely, the most visible will probably be the webkit message view, as this will completely replace what we currently use to display messages. By using webkit, it's possible that we'll eventually be able to support Adium Message Styles (no, I'm not promising this support will happen, but it will be possible). The Telepathy plugin will provide some interesting functionality by allowing us to use nothing but telepathy for protocol support if the user so chooses.

There are other deeper details in these projects, but I've already wasted too much time obsessing over this post and discussing the larger projects in detail. I'll leave further discussion of the technical merits and details of projects to the students and mentors. Needless to say, this post could have gone on just about forever. ;)

Overall, this Summer of Code looks like it will be one of our best. Good luck to all our students!