Google Summer of Code 2020

Welcome to our ideas page. It's great you want to start early. Please join us in our slack channel! (we'll leave as an exercise to you to find it — it's on our website).

This is going to be an amazing year — lots of new things to work on, including JokerTV, a totally open TV receiver, plus several experimental/for fun projects. Projects in C, Node.js, Python, Rust and more, you name it, we have it. Plus resources for students — we'll give access to a high-speed server, all our samples (we'll even ship a portable drive with them anywhere in the world, so don't worry about slow connections) and various other perks.

You are welcome to check out the page (actual ideas at the bottom of the page, with each project having it's own separate page as well) and start early in the community bonding process as well as learning a bit about our code ethics and practices. And of course, we'd love you to stay around even if we are not invited to GSoC or if we cannot invite you as a student.

The ideas we currently have

Important: If you have something else in mind that relates to subtitles and accessibility please get in touch. We prefer that you do something that you are passionate about even if it's something we hadn't considered.

After you check out our ideas please continue reading to the bottom of the page to get information about who we are, how we collaborate, what resources we will provide to you, etc.

Some tasks descriptions are still vague. We know that. Feel free to get in touch for questions, or just check their page from time to time. We will update the descriptions often.

Core subtitle tool (CCExtractor itself)

Name Description Tech you need to know Tech you will learn Difficulty
Complete 708 support This is one of the big ones. Why? Because it's been on our wish list for some time and until now no one has decided to really go for it; after the initial work it's always been incremental improvements, but no one has raised their hand and said “I'm going to complete this”. It's possible the code base is not really friendly. Who knows. If this is the case we're OK with a total rewrite if that's what it takes to get this done. The details page has some more information if this picked your interest.
This project is guaranteed to be selected if the proposal is good.
C Video standards
Subtitle standards
CCExtractor internals
Add support for streaming Live TV A number of streaming platforms now offer support for internet based live TV, which is great: It lets you watch TV on the go, it lets you get rid of cable, satellite and areal antennas… unfortunately, this live TV is not standardized at all. Your job is to do the work to add suport for Hulu and Youtube. We will pay for the subscription costs as well as any required infrastructure. Any Video standards
Subtitle standards
Live streaming platforms
Work on JokerTV integration JokerTV is an excellent open hardware and software platform (think Arduino, but for TV). It's still early days, and we really want to be among the first supporting this amazing new platform. JokerTV can receive signals from all TV standards around the world (finally!, no more European or American models, etc). We will buy one device for the student (or students, if their ideas are different) that works on this.
Abylay Ospan, the genius behind JokerTV has agreed to mentor.
Video standards
Joker (the platform)
Write Python bindings for CCExtractor This was partially done during GSoC 2017, but the approach was totally wrong — a wrapper, instead of Cython.
Let's cut our losses and start over.
Obscure C+Python topics
CCExtractor internals
Add support for DTMB countries DTMB is the standard for Chinese TV, also implemented by countries such as Cuba. What kind of student is ideal for this task? One with lots of analytic skills and patience. If you are one of those, don't disregard this task just because you don't speak (or maybe, even care) about Chinese. The experience on dealing with this will be extremely valuable in the future.
We will use part of the organization funds to buy standard documents you might need, a capture device, and in general, anything required to make your life easier.
Video standards
Improve our OCR subsystem We use tesseract to OCR bitmap based subtitles. In theory this is straight forward, but when you take into consideration all variants (color, languages, subtitles burned-in image, even moving text such as tickers) the complexity grows fast. Still, the work done by PhD students in the past is great, and we're confident this year we can complete the work on this area if someone of the same caliber decides to join the effort. C Tesseract
Suspected hard
Add Japanese support Captions are used by people all over the world on a regular basis. Most of us are familiar with regular horizontal captions at the bottom of the screen, but did you know that in Japan a common position for captions is vertically on the right or left side of the screen? Come learn more about what Japanese audiences need out of captions as well as how captioning standard likes IMSC and WebVTT support these features. Japanese (or be good with foreign languages) Depends Suspected hard

Artificial Intelligence and clever algorithms

Name Description Tech you need to know Tech you will learn Difficulty
Poor man's Rekognition (II) Amazon Rekognition is a (paid) service that is able to identify celebrity faces in a picture. Last year we did some work towards creating a free alternative. This year we want to improve on the past work. Your choice AI
Computer vision
Poor man's Textract Amazon Textract a (paid) service that “automatically extracts text and data from scanned documents. Amazon Textract goes beyond simple optical character recognition (OCR) to also identify the contents of fields in forms and information stored in tables.”. We want to build a free alternative that provides an output of similar quality. Your choice AI
Computer vision

Support tools we and other orgs use as part of their development process

Name Description Tech you need to know Tech you will learn Difficulty
The sample platform (/ continuous integration) project The sample platform is a good way to help new contributors to check if their code doesn't introduce any regressions. It's pretty stable, but is often hard to interpret for new contributors, and still pretty slow if the queue builds up. We want to take the concepts of this existing platform and re-write it from scratch making use of the horizontally scalable cloud options that are nowadays available.
This project is guaranteed to be selected if the proposal is good.
Cloud services API's
GitHub Actions
GitHub API's
Continuous Integration (CI)
Automated deployments
GitHub integration

New things we're currently interested on

Name Description Tech you need to know Tech you will learn Difficulty
A reference channel for Roku Roku is currently the most common media streamer. It's cheap and neutral (it's not in any “fight”). Unfortunately, there aren't any good open source channels, so if you want to start your own you have to start from scratch. We want to fix that by creating the “reference” source code for a generic channel. We will send a free Roku to our student for development. None Brightscript
An "algorithm video creator" in Python During Google Code-in we got some proof of concepts that are actually quite cool. We want to build a complete tool that helps study and understand algorithms Python Python internals
FFmpeg + Rust This project is two fold: One, is create proper Rust bindings into FFmpeg's libraries. The 2nd, and harder, is create a “graph to code” generator C or C++ FFmpeg's internals
Possibly hard
Extend rclone's web UI (mentored by Nick Craig-Wood, rclone's developer) rclone is a fantastic tool to synchronize cloud storage. It's rsync for the cloud. Last year we started a web UI, and it was a successful GSoC project. We want to continue working on it. Cloud (lots)
Web (different tech)
SwagLyrics Last Summer of Code, we came up with a platform to align lyrics to their temporal location in the audio ( This year, we want to improve it, and integrate it to SwagLyrics proper. Python (mainly) Depends on your idea Medium to Unknown
Vote counter and reporter More and more countries depend on electronic vote counting and/or reporting in their elections, and apparently no one can get this right. Either no one knows how to do it or they know exactly what they are doing. Both things are worrying, to say the least. We want to spend this summer working on an open-source solution everybody and use and audit, in any country. Systems design Flutter (frontend),
your choice (backend)
Mouseless for Linux Mouseless is a nice tool to practice keyboard shortcuts for a few popular apps. Unfortunately it's only available for Mac. We'd like to create an open-source Linux version that can be easily extended. Your choice ?? Unknown
rutorrent mobile interface rutorrent is the most popular web interface for rtorrent, which is possibly the most used BitTorrent client in linux. The job is to write a Flutter based web interface that uses rutorrent's backend service to provide a native interface. Flutter BitTorrent Medium
The next peer-to-peer protocol BitTorrent is of course the world's most used peer to peer protocol. It's great, but it was designed before the cloud was ubiquitous and it doesn't make use of the places where you have the most storage or the most bandwidth. Can we design something for the next decade? Depends Peer-to-peer,
Linux tuning for network throughput Come up with a system that tunes the linux kernel to maximize network throughput for a number of workloads, such as web server or BitTorrent Linux Kernel internals,

About us

We are a small org, which means that your contribution will have a large impact. It's not going to mean a 0.5% improvement on a big project — it's going to be more than 10% on a medium size one. If you like challenges and want a chance to shine this is your place.

We have -we think- statistically amazing continuity in the team: Most GSoC students from all the past years are still involved, even if they are no longer eligible as students. They still contribute code, and they mentor both in GSoC and the sister program GCI. As mentors, they also come to the Summer of Code summit which traditionally takes place in October.

We have *mentors all over the world* (North America, Europe, Asia and Australia), so time zones are never a problem. Our main channel of communication is a Slack channel to which everyone is welcome. We expect all accepted students to be available on Slack very often, even if you don't need to talk to your mentor. This will help you ask questions when necessary, and you might be able to help others out as well while working on your project.

Exception: If your country (such as Russia) has banned Slack please get in touch in we'll work out a solution with you. We absolutely want you to participate.

A mailing list is also available for those that prefer email over slack. It's a new mailing list (the old one hasn't been used in a long time) but it's read by everyone involved in GSoC.

All our top committers will be mentoring. Many of them are former GSoC students or winners of GCI.


All accepted students get a programming book immediately after being accepted, with the hope that they read them before the coding starts. We want to see if this increases the quality of the work. So far we have selected these three books (pick one), but we're open to suggestions: Clean Code, Elements of Programming Interviews in Python, Cracking the code interview.

We will also provide to all accepted students: - 6 months of access (from the acceptance date) to all courses in - 12 months of access (from the acceptance date) to backtobackswe, which is a fantastic resource to learn algorithms, prepare for coding interviews, and in general learn fundamentals.

The student working on CEA-708 will also receive a copy of the latest CEA-708 specification document.

About what we use

This is what we use today. It doesn't mean this is what we want to continue using. Probably not — we're really open to change. We're just describing the status quo so you know what you are getting into :-)

The core tool that names the organization (CCExtractor) is a command-line program written in C (not C++).

The current Windows GUI is written in C#, and we have another GUI for Linux that's written with Qt, and a small GUI that's integrated into the main program (C). In we're being honest, nothing is great. Good news for you is that you can start over if you want.

The testing tool we use to run regression tests is mainly written in Python, but it also used Javascript, CSS and some shell scripting. The Test suite is written in C#. One of the projects this year is about replacing it.

The prototype real time subtitle website is written in NodeJS.

We also have a number of support tools that do a number of different things, from downloading subtitles from streaming services to translating them with Google Translate or DeepL. Most of them are written in Python, but since they are small tools that do their job you don't need to worry much about them.

For totally new things you can use whatever tool you feel is best for the job.

About sample media and other resources

We work with huge files. Not all of them are huge, but many are. We know that many students don't have access to high speed internet. To those students we will ship (as soon as they are selected) a portable hard drive with all our samples. So if your internet connection is not good, don't worry — as long as you can plug a USB drive to your development computer you can participate with us.

We also have a shared Linux development server with lots of storage and a Gigabit uplink. Students get an account on it and they are welcome to use it. There's nothing there except our own work, so it's a trusted environment (for a server that is connected to internet of course).

The sample platform also hosts a bunch of samples, both which are small or decently sized.

Some projects have specific requirements: For example to add support for JokerTV you will need a physical JokerTV device. We will send one to the student that takes this project well before GSoC starts. The LiveTV project requires a subscription to YouTube with LiveTV (whatever it's called this week) and Hulu. We will pay for those. If your project requires some cloud resources (Google Compute Engine, for example), we will pay for that, too.

In general, you are not expected to pay for anything (other than your own development computer and internet, of course) related to any project.

If you need anything not mentioned (such as a book) let us know. Within reason, we'll help you.

About the projects and getting accepted

Qualification: Our selection system is based on several factors. Of course no student ranks in all criteria, so don't worry when you read the list below.

Work on our core tool: Even if you are going to be working on something totally different. This might seen counter intuitive, but the thing is if you prove you can dig into our (messy) code base, find yourself your way around it, and fix a few bugs, you are just the kind of person we can trust to “figure things out”. GSoC is among other things, a learning experience. No matter what project you decide to work on, there's going to be roadblocks, things you don't know how to do, etc. So we really like it when students embrace those situations.

Qualification tasks specific to the project: The detail page for some projects contains specific qualification tasks that apply to them.

Contributions to existing open source projects: This can be anything. From a good GitHub profile to pull-requests sent to any other existing project, participation in hackathons, Google Code-In, past GSoCs and so on.

A good proposal: This is the one criteria that is non-negotiable. Your proposal has to be good, period.

Project popularity: Some ideas just have more competition, so if participating in GSoC is a top priority for you (over working on a specific project), consider applying to one of the “niche” ideas. After all, that's a great way to get your foot in the door :-)

Best core tool tasks

We're added a difficulty level to all our open issues on GitHub. Best thing you can do is head there and see if you are able to fix some of the easy ones and work your way up. We don't expect you to be able to do the hard ones but we'd be impressed if you did :-)

For some of the easy ones you don't even need to know C. Just being able to compile CCExtractor and dig around a bit will be enough.

The sample platform's issues are tagged with “gsoc-proposal-task”, so you can easily see what you can work on.

Take home qualification tasks

If instead of working on existing code you'd prefer to show us your skills working on something new, you can pick one of these projects.

Community etiquette

It goes without saying that everyone in the community has to be polite and respectful, and consider everyone else a member of a team and not a competitor.

All developers are part of the team, by the way. Our Slack channel has mentors, code-in participants, other students, or developers and users that are none of the above but they all play some kind of role in CCExtractor's community.

Part of being respectful is giving consideration to everyone else's time. Most of us have day jobs, and as such are limited in the time we can use to guide you. We'd like to spend it on quality discussions, and not on things that are for example written on this website, things that you can easily retrieve by reading documentation on used libraries or on the software's help screen. Asking this kind of questions in the Slack channel shows little respect for our time. This doesn't mean you can't ask questions, but remember that being a clueless user and a lazy developer are two very different things. If you ask those questions you will probably get an answer as if you were a clueless user (polite no matter what), but if you apply to GSoC you will be considered a lazy developer. Google is your friend ;)

Tell things as you see them. Politely -you're not Linus-, but don't sugar-coat it. We know some parts of our code is poorly written, poorly documented, etc. It stands out, so you will know when you dig in. No one is going to be offended by having that code rewritten or refactored. Peer review applies to everybody's work and is done by everybody.

Cross project proposals

Because we use a number of libraries and in fact “are a library” ourselves (meaning other programs can link CCExtractor as a library, or invoke the binary) we interact with other communities and their software. From time to time there's a chance to do something interesting that affects CCExtractor and something else (FFmpeg comes to mind, but also Kodi, VLC, libGPAC, Red Hen, to mention just a few of our friends that typically participate in Summer of Code). So how does this work? As long as the work benefits CCExtractor and it's part of your summer project, we're OK with you spending some time on the other project. For example if you are improving our MP4 support, for which we use libGPAC, and need to fix or improve something on libGPAC you are welcome to do so. If you do, make sure you submit your changes to their maintainers and follow through with their merge process.

Your proposal

You can propose to do any of the following ideas, or you can bring your own. In any case, make sure you run them by us before you actually submit your proposal.

At the very least your proposal needs to

- Explain what you do want to do, why it is important to you (don't make up a story here — the reason can be that you need it, that you just think it's cool, that you have an itch to work on it, etc), and why it could be important or useful to us.
- Explain how you intend to accomplish the goal, in enough detail that makes it clear that you have done your homework. For example, “I will modify the CCExtractor binary so that it's able to convert audio to text with perfect accuracy” is the same thing as sending your proposal to the trash. You need to have a plan.
- Detail the timeline explaining what the expected progress is for each week or every two weeks (pay special attention to the milestones within the GSoC timeline itself, of course) and how we should validate the results.
- Detail what kind of support you will need from us. For example, if you are going to need test streams, hardware, access to a server, etc, let us know, so we can prepare everything for you as soon as possible.
- Detail your expected working hours in UTC. We're used to weird working schedules, so don't worry about working in the middle of the night, or weekends instead of other days, etc. Knowing your hours may help us to match you better with a mentor.
- Mention your planned absences. We don't need you to detail what you will be doing when you are not working of course, but if you are going away for any reason we need to know so we don't think you've abandoned.
- Link to your GitHub (or any other repository) profile, if you have one, so we can take a look at your previous work.
- GSoC is a coding program: This means that ideas that are about testing (unless it involves coding something to test our programs ;) ), website design, etc, are out.
- However, we want to have good documentation: Make sure you have time to write a good technical article explaining your work.
- Be realistic and honest with the timeline. Consider each week you should work around 30 hours. If your timeline reserves a lot of time for minor things we'll think that you are not going to be working full-time in GSoC. On the other hand if you promise to do things in a lot less than that it seems realistic to us it will seem that you don't really know how much work things take.
- If you are going to be using 3rd party libraries (that's OK), make sure to validate that their license is compatible with GPLv2 (which is ours). List the libraries in your proposal. Check that they are cross-platform. If you will need to extend those libraries in any way please explain. In this case, your proposal should include time to get that extension submitted to the maintainers (we love to contribute to other projects).

Something else: Mentors often have their fingers in several pies. If you send the same proposal to several orgs everyone will know. So do yourself a favor and don't do that. You can apply to several organizations and that's totally fine, but each organization will want to see that you have put the time to write a great proposal that is focused on them.

Useful resources

  • public/gsoc/ideas_page_for_summer_of_code_2020.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/03/01 18:06
  • by cfsmp3