Mind the Gap
The community bonding period is the 6-8 weeks between GSoC student acceptance and the start of coding date. Here are some of the goals of this period:
- Prepare students to immediately start writing code at the official start of coding.
- Get students engaged socially in the project.
- Provide time for students to learn about the development practices of the organization.
- Ensure that students have a development environment set up. This includes getting set up with the project version control system and reading up on necessary documentation.
- Further refine the strategic plan for project completion.
- Get required forms filled out, such as the tax forms required by Google, any contributor license agreements, and any paperwork that your project requires.
This period was added in 2007 to help students integrate with their development community and so encourage them to become lifetime contributors. New contributors to a project outside of GSoC often lurk in a project's IRC channel and/or mailing lists for weeks or months before submitting their first patch. The community bonding period is an attempt to improve that experience.
Successful completion of your student's GSoC project depends a lot on the bonding period. Make sure that you and your student make good use of this time and make significant progress on preliminary tasks. The community bonding period is also a good chance for the students to start interacting with each other. Early connections can help the students support each other during coding.
Ideally students are ready to start writing code at the official start of coding, and are already engaged socially. During the community bonding period students are expected to learn about the development processes of their organization, ensure they have a development environment set up, get set up with the project version control system, read up on necessary documentation, and further refine the strategic plan for successful project completion.
Plan weekly activities for your student that only take an hour or two. The community bonding period occurs when students are likely to still be taking classes and have a full load of course work. It's unreasonable to expect that the student will be available full-time to work on GSoC at that point.
Pro Tip: Students are meant to be "in good standing with their community" to receive the initial payment at the start of coding. If you don't hear anything at all from your accepted student during community bonding, or the student explicitly drops out, tell Google. It may even be possible to select a replacement student.