Sunday, March 30, 2008

Summer of Code: A New Twist

I wrote a few weeks ago about the summer of coding fun that surely lies ahead. I outlined my desire to "continue the quest of supporting non-CSS fonts in Inkscape" and discussed the limitations that some aspects of the Pango font management system have, and how they were preventing Inkscape from using all available fonts. I recently submitted an application that outlined my potential summer, starting with the legalization of flowed text (deemed a priority by some senior community members) and then continuing with research into solutions to the fancy font problem. So if all goes well and I am accepted, then I could have another summer full of text fun.

But wait... there's more!

The twist is that I now have another interesting project to apply for this summer. My friend Christian, who after participating as a student in three summers of code has decided he should mentor this time around, recently worked on using the Wii remote for head tracking for molecular visualization, and then on alternate means of doing the tracking, such as using face recognition. He wants several aspects of his project, dubbed MolViz, to be refined and then used by the wider Python community. You can find more information about that on the Python Software Foundation's GSoC ideas page.

The interest I have in this project revolves around one of my favorite topics of late - augmented reality! I would like to implement a new mode of head tracking, using augmented reality markers attached to a user's forehead. This method is cheaper than using a Wii remote in that one need only print out a simple pattern and attach it to their head, yet more accurate in real time than face recognition would be. Python programmers could greatly benefit from such a head tracking option for applications that need to work quickly but have a high degree of accuracy and consistency, such as games.

So I went ahead and applied for this project, too.

The truth is that I would love to work on both projects, but the possibility of not working on Inkscape admittedly feels strange, almost guilt-ridden. So I have vowed to myself that, after GSoC is done, I will try to keep up with open source development by working on Inkscape at least once a week. I have had such goals in the past but was never able to reach them, thanks to heavy course loads and so on. However, for the next 4-16 months (however long it takes), I will be working on my thesis, so I should finally have maximum levels of flexibility for a while. With this in mind, I choose to specifically not hope for one project or the other, but wait and see what happens.


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