GSoC project ideas
This page describes ideas you can use as a starting point for your project proposal. If you have not done so yet, you should start by reading our guide on how to apply to a Zulip outreach program. As noted in the guide:
Your first priority during the contribution period should be figuring out how to become an effective Zulip contributor. Start developing your project proposal only once you have experience with iterating on your PRs to get them ready for integration. That way, you’ll have a much better idea of what you want to work on and how much you can accomplish.
GSoC offers two project size options: 175 hours and 350 hours. We have designed all our projects to have incremental milestones that can be completed throughout the program. Consequently, Zulip projects described below are generally compatible with either project size. Of course, the amount of progress you will be expected to make depends on whether you are doing a 175-hour or 350-hour project.
It’s also important to understand that how much progress one can accomplish over the course of the summer is as much a function of the project as of the contributor. Contributors who learn to consistently package their work into reviewable pull requests tend to accomplish the most during GSoC.
For 2023, we are particularly interested in GSoC contributors who have strong skills at full-stack feature development, Typescript, visual design, HTML/CSS, or performance optimization. So if you’re an applicant with those skills and are looking for an organization to join, we’d love to talk to you!
The Zulip project has a huge surface area, so even when we’re focused on something, a large amount of essential work goes into other parts of the project. Every area of Zulip could benefit from the work of a contributor with strong programming skills, so don’t feel discouraged if the areas mentioned above are not your main strength.
Project ideas by area
This section contains the seeds of project ideas; you will need to do research on the Zulip codebase, read issues on GitHub, read documentation, and talk with developers to put together a complete project proposal. It’s also fine to come up with your own project ideas. As you’ll see below, you can put together a great project around one of the area labels on GitHub; each has a cluster of problems in one part of the Zulip project that we’d love to improve.
Full stack and web frontend focused projects
Experts: Purushottam Tiwari, Sahil Batra
Experts: Zixuan James Li, Priyank Patel, Anders Kaseorg
Experts: Aman Agrawal, Shlok Patel
Experts: Abhijeet Bodas, Ryan Rehman
Cluster of priority features. Implement a cluster of new full stack features for Zulip. The high priority label documents hundreds of issues that we’ve identified as important to the project. A great project can be 3-5 significant features around a theme (often, but not necessarily, an area label; the goal will be to implement and get fully merged a cluster of features with a meaningful impact on the project. Zulip has a lot of half-finished PRs, so some features might be completed by reading, understanding, rebasing, and reviving an existing pull request. 175 or 350 hours; difficulty will vary. Skills required: Depends on the features; Tim Abbott will help you select an appropriate cluster once we’ve gotten to know you and your strengths through your getting involved in the project.
Experts: it depends
Zulip’s REST API documentation, which is an important resource for any organization integrating with Zulip, as well as the developers of our API clients. Zulip has a nice framework for writing API documentation built by past GSoC students based on the OpenAPI standard with built-in automated tests of the data both the Python and curl examples. However, the documentation isn’t yet what we’re hoping for: there are a few dozen endpoints that are missing, several of which are quite important, the visual design isn’t perfect (especially for, e.g.,
GET /events), many templates could be deleted with a bit of framework effort, etc. See the API docs area label for some specific projects in the area; and
git grep pending_endpointsto find the list of endpoints that need documentation and their priorities. Our goal for the summer is for 1-2 students to resolve all open issues related to the REST API documentation. 175 or 350 hours; difficulty easy or medium. Skills required: Python programming. Expertise with reading documentation and English writing are valuable, and product thinking about the experience of using third-party APIs is very helpful.
Expert: Lauryn Menard
Improve the UI and visual design of the Zulip web app. We are working on a major redesign for the core surfaces of the Zulip web app – see the redesign label for specced out work, with more to come. We’re particularly excited about students who are interested in making our CSS clean and readable as part of working on the UI. 175 or 350 hours; medium to difficult. Skills required: Design, HTML and CSS skills; most important is the ability to carefully verify that one’s changes are correct and will not break other parts of the app; design changes are very rewarding since they are highly user-facing, but that also means there is a higher bar for correctness and reviewability for one’s work. A great application would include PRs making small, clean improvements to the Zulip UI (whether logged-in or logged-out pages).
Experts: Aman Agrawal, Alya Abbott
Experts: Tim Abbott, Yash RE
Fill in gaps, fix bugs, and improve the framework for Zulip’s library of native integrations. We have about 120 native integrations, but there are a number of others we would like to add. Also, several extensions to the framework that would dramatically improve the user experience of using integrations, e.g., being able to do callbacks to third-party services like Stripe to display more user-friendly notifications. The the integrations label on GitHub lists some of the priorities here (many of which are great preparatory projects). 175 or 350 hours; medium difficulty with various possible difficult extensions. Skills required: Strong Python experience, will to install and do careful manual testing of third-party products. Fluent English, usability sense and/or technical writing skills are all pluses.
Expert: Zixuan Li
Make Zulip integrations easier for nontechnical users to set up. This includes adding a backend permissions system for managing bot permissions (and implementing the enforcement logic), adding an OAuth system for presenting those controls to users, as well as making the
Expert: Zixuan James Li
Work on Zulip’s development and testing infrastructure. Zulip is a project that takes great pride in building great tools for development, but there’s always more to do to make the experience delightful. Significantly, about 10% of Zulip’s open issues are ideas for how to improve the project’s contributor experience, and are in these four labels for tooling improvements.
This is a somewhat unusual project, in that it would likely consist of dozens of small improvements to the overall codebase, but this sort of work has a huge impact on the experience of other Zulip developers and thus the community as a whole (project leader Tim Abbott spends more time on the development experience than any other single area). 175 or 350 hours; difficult. Skills required: Python, some DevOps, and a passion for checking your work carefully. A strong applicant for this will have completed several projects in these areas.
Expert: Tim Abbott
Code: Zulip Terminal
Experts: Neil Pilgrim, Aman Agrawal
Work on Zulip Terminal, the official terminal client for Zulip. zulip-terminal is out in beta, but there’s still a lot to do for it to approach parity with the web app. We would be happy to accept multiple strong students to work on this project. 175 or 350 hours; medium difficulty. Skills required: Python 3 development skills, good communication and project management skills, good at reading code and testing.
Expert: Anders Kaseorg
Prototype a next generation Zulip desktop app implemented using the Tauri Rust-based framework. Tauri is a promising new project that we believe is likely a better technical direction for client applications than Electron for desktop apps, for security and resource consumption reasons. The goal of this project would be to build a working prototype to evaluate to what extent Tauri is a viable platform for us to migrate the Zulip desktop app to. 350 hours only; difficult. Skills required: Ability to learn quickly. Experience with Rust and secure software design may be helpful.
Code: React Native mobile app; Flutter prototype app
Experts: Greg Price, Chris Bobbe
We’re exploring rewriting Zulip’s mobile apps, which are currently implemented using React Native, using Flutter. See this development community thread for details.
If you are a Flutter expert and excited about getting involved, feel free to introduce yourself in the #mobile stream in the development community. However because the project and the development process around it are not yet established, we expect not to accept any GSoC contributors for the Zulip mobile apps for GSoC 2023.