Google summer of Code is a global program focused on introducing students to open source software development.
During the 3 months summer break from university, students work on a programming projects with an open source organization, like DBpedia.
We are part of this exciting program for more than 5 years now. Many exciting projects developed as results of intense coding during hot summers. Presenting you Wouter Maroy, who has been a GSoC student at GSoc 2016 and who is currently a mentor in this years program, we like to give you a glimpse behind the scenes and show you how important the program is to DBpedia.
Success Story: Wouter Maroy
Who are you?
I’m Wouter Maroy, a 23 years old Master’s student in Computer Science Engineering at Ghent University (Belgium). I’m affiliated with IDLab – imec. Linked Data and Big Data technologies are my two favorite fields of interest. Besides my passion for Computer Science, I like to travel, explore and look for adventures. I’m a student who enjoys his student life in Ghent.
What is your main interest in DBpedia and what was your motivation to apply for a DBpedia project at GSoC 2016.
I took courses during my Bachelors with lectures about Linked Data and the Semantic Web which of course included DBpedia; it’s an interesting research field. Before my GSoC 2016 application I did some work on Semantic Web technologies and on a technology (RML) that was required for a GSoC 2016 project that was listed by DBpedia. I wanted to get involved in Open Source and DBpedia, so I applied.
What did you do?
DBpedia has used a custom mapping language up until now to generate structured data from raw data from Wikipedia infoboxes. A next step was to improve this process to a more modular and generic approach that leads to higher quality linked data generation . This new approach relied on the integration of RML, the RDF Mapping Language and was the goal of the GSoC 2016 project I applied for. Understanding all the necessary details about the GSoC project required some effort and research before I started with coding. I also had to learn a new programming language (Scala). I had good assistance from my mentors so this turned out very well in the end. DBpedia’s Extraction Framework, which is used for extracting structured data from Wikipedia, has a quite large codebase. It was the first project of this size I was involved in. I learned a lot from reading its codebase and from contributing by writing code during these months.
Dimitris Kontokostas and Anastasia Dimou were my two mentors. They guided me well throughout the project. I interacted daily with them through Slack and each week we had a conference call to discuss the project. After many months of research, coding and discussing we managed to deliver a working prototype at the end of the project. The work we did was presented in Leipzig on the DBpedia day during SEMANTICS 16’. Additionally, this work will also be presented at ISWC 2017.
You can check out his project here.
How do you currently contribute to improve DBpedia?
I’m mentoring a GSoC17 project together with Dimitris Kontokostas and Anastasia Dimou as a follow up on the work that was done by our GSoC 2016 project last year. Ismael Rodriguez is the new student who is participating in the project and he already delivered great work! Besides being a mentor for GSoC 2017, I make sure that the integration of RML into DBpedia is going into the right direction in general (managing, coding,…). For this reason, I worked at the KILT/DBpedia office in Leipzig during summer for 6 weeks. Joining and getting to know the team was a great experience.
What did you gain from the project?
Throughout the project I practiced coding, working in a team, … I learned more about DBpedia, RML, Linked Data and other related technologies. I’m glad I had the opportunity to learn this much from the project. I would recommend it to all students who are curious about DBpedia, who are eager to learn and who want to earn a stipend during summer through coding. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll have a good time!
Final words to future GSoC applicants for DBpedia projects.
Give it a shot! Really, it’s a lot of fun! Coding for DBpedia through GSoC is a great, unique experience and one who is enthusiastic about coding and the DBpedia project should definitely go for it.
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