“The real challenge of GSoC is not the coding, it’s learning to work with a community,” wrote Matt Mackall to the Mercurial mailing list a couple days ago with regard to the upcoming Google Summer of Code projects: http://selenic.com/pipermail/mercurial/2010-April/030996.html

I believe this applies equally well to us: the real challenge of UCOSP is not the coding, it’s learning to work with a community. This is especially true for the Mercurial team because we are working with such a large, established, global community of developers. Working within our UCOSP team was alright for our initial warm-up projects where we built new Mercurial extensions or added isolated features, but it became very important when we started working on the bfiles extension. We collaborated extensively with Greg Ward, the creator of bfiles. Towards the end, he helped us extensively with combining and polishing our patches, and as a result, they integrated smoothly into his tree. The more we engaged the developer community, the more productive we became.

The post that I link to has some other great pointers for anyone new to an opensource project – not necessarily those doing it for credit or money. It’s worth a read.