Five years of open Summer coding


Oh, how time flies! This year, we’re celebrating the fifth anniversary of open Summer of code. What started out as a fun project among friends in 2011, has become a well-oiled event that employs just about twenty students each year. A lot has changed since the first #oSoc, and this jubilee is the perfect time to take a glance at the previous editions and where we stand now.

Once upon a time

Rumour has it that five boys and one girl did not feel like doing another mind-numbing summer holiday job. Thus, they created a more challenging one themselves. Without knowing what this would lead to, they started iRail Summer of code. The names of those semi-gods were Pieter Colpaert, Tim Besard, Jan Vansteenlandt, Dimitri Roose, Ruben Slabbinck and Greet Derudder.

Whether this urban legend is real or not -and maybe a bit exaggerated-, truth is open Summer of code did start out as iRail Summer of code. Simply because the first two editions were organised by iRail. In 2013, Open Knowledge Belgium started to manage the bits and bobs, and iRail Summer of code became…open Summer of code, indeed.

The first #oSoc was rather small, especially in comparison with later editions. It started out with six students, working on four innovative projects concerning mobility and Open Data. It was more of a fun get-together among friends than a real programme. Despite that last, the first open Summer of code edition did have a fruitful outcome, having sprouted apps and services for the City of Ghent, iRail, The Datatank and Bits of Love.  #iSoc11 was truly the start of something grand.

Curious what the first #oSoc was like? Here you go.


To get from a get-together to a yearly event, you can imagine some changes had to be made in the course of the years. For example, the focus shifted from mobility to Open Innovation projects, the name changed, a few rebrandings happened. But the biggest change must have been the size of #oSoc. Where the first edition employed six students, the previous edition engaged nineteen. The more, the merrier. Or, so goes the saying at least.

Also, open Summer of code heads towards a more professional context. Nowadays, the participating students are guided by a couple of experienced coaches. Better supported students, better outcomes. Every year, the overall expectations get kicked up a notch. That’s why communication and business students encouraged actively to take part for the first time. This way, #oSoc provides a real all-round product. Open Summer of code went from sole programming to co-creating.

Fil rouge

Even though open Summer of code went through a few fundamental adjustments overtime, some things never change. The strict three week deadline, for example. Or the hackathon at the start, where you have to create everything in just one day – and where you inevitably fail. And of course, meeting great people, make some new friends for life, having the time of your life, yada yada yada. That might sound like gooey love mush, but it’s true gooey love mush.

Oh, and Danish pastries or ‘coffee couques’ as they are so affectively called, seem to be the propulsive force behind open Summer of code. Never mess with the coffee couques.

coffee coques

Skip to toolbar