Google Summer of Code 2014 Ideas

Welcome, potential Google Summer of Code students! This project is currently called "The NPO Accounting Project", for lack of a better name.

The project is coordinated by Software Freedom Conservancy, Inc. which is a 501(c)(3) charitable not-for-profit organization in the USA. We run all our operations solely and completely on Free Software.

One area that we've had great difficulty is regarding non-profit accounting software. We've launch this project to improve the state of accounting Open Source and Free Software for non-profits. Since this NPO Accounting project is just getting started, there are only the five potential projects below for a GSoC 2014 student. Students who wish to apply to our org should pick one specific project below, and focus their application on that project.

We'll likely select just one (and at most two) students, but we've provided multiple project choices. Students who wish to apply to our org should pick one of the five projects below, and focus their application on that project.

We need all of these items below done anyway, and we want to find the best possible student/project match. Please pick the single project below that fits your skills and background best when submitting your application.

Possible GSoC 2014 Projects

  1. Add all the necessary tag types found in the tutorial on the Ledger-CLI setup for fiscal sponsor 501(c)3 organizations into the REST API for basic double-entry accounting, and then write some reports using that new API.

    This will require the student to get familiar (or already be familiar) with how Ledger-CLI works, how REST APIs work, and learn some basics of double entry accounting.

    A successful student should be able to complete that work about three-quarters the way through the summer, and then be able to focus on actually writing a few specialized NPO-style report using the API. A great acid test will be to use the API to implement the IRS required charity public support test.

    This particular project description is vague because we'd like to see a creative application from someone who has done some research into how non-profit accounting workflow works and wants to help implement it.

  2. Convert Ledger-CLI to use fixed-point arithmetic.

    Currently Ledger-CLI uses floating point arithmetic, which is definitely a mistake for an accounting system. This causes off-by-one bugs on some types of transactions. This should be fixed.

    A successful student on this task will:

    • Write various test cases for Ledger-CLI that will clearly show the floating point issue.
    • Rework the codebase to use fixed-point arithmetic so those bugs are closed.
    • Shepherd the patch upstream.
    • Close any bug tickets in the bug tracker that relate to this issue.
    • Time permitting: verify that other Ledger implementations don't face the same problem.

    Note that because this would be a major "bombing run" sort of change, there may be some resistance to upstreaming this patch, so this task may be harder than it looks on the surface from a community advocacy angle.

    Application tips for this task: an application from a student who does the following will be considered a very good application:

    • Write a patch (before submitting your application) for ledger-cli that uses the existing test framework to add a useful new test.
    • Submit a pull request to ledger-cli to add that test to upstream.
    • If your patch is accepted by ledger-cli's maintainers before your application is considered, that will be looked upon most favorably.
  3. Build a better test suite for Ledger-CLI.

    Since this project relies so heavily on Ledger-CLI, we'd really like there to be a full test coverage for Ledger-CLI. To do that, a student will need to be already somewhat familiar C++ and willing to learn about how to set up test suites for C++ programs, and likes writing tests. The student could easily spend the whole summer just writing tests and not finish.

    Ledger-CLI does have a basic test suite, but it might turn out that using a more "full featured" test harness is useful. The student will investigate and discuss this possibility with the mentor. It would also be nice if lcov or other test-coverage tool could generate reports automatically.

    While this project is of primary interest to this project, it will require careful coordination with Ledger-CLI as an upstream, and we'll help mentor the student in that.

  4. Build a better Python interface to Ledger-CLI for use by our API.

    Right now, Ledger-CLI has a rather incomplete Python interface, based on Boost.Python. However, the right approach is probably to use SWIG or some other similar mechanism to build a proper Python API. Perhaps Ledger-CLI could stick with Boost.Python, but what's there clearly needs an overhaul. The upside of using SWIG will be that we can get APIs for other languages too.

    While this project is of primary interest to this project, it will require careful coordination with Ledger-CLI as an upstream, and we'll help mentor the student in that.

  5. Add a JSON/RESTful API to Hledger's hledger-web app, mirroring the C++/python API (improvement for which is described in (1) above, as part of another task). This would provide an alternate implementation useful for testing, validation and future-proofing.

    The ideal here would be that the NPO Accounting Project could use either Ledger-CLI or hledger as a back-end. This work may require coordination with other students who might be working on (1).