Submitty is excited and proud to be selected for participation in Google Summer of Code (GSoC) in Summer 2020. Please read the “How to work with us” section at the bottom of our GSoC page. GSoC Project Reports written by the fantastic students we supported and mentored through GSOC in 2018 and 2019.

The project ideas listed below target a variety of different topics and require different levels of prior experience. Work has already begun on many of these projects, but we are looking for new team members to join these projects. Submit questions or comments on specific issues through our Submitty GitHub Issue Tracker or Contact Us.

  1. Peer Grading

    Currently we facilitate detailed rubric manual grading of student assignments by the instructor or TA. We have extended this design to include peer assessment, which can aid timeliness, quantity, and quality of feedback for students in large courses, especially those with limited instructional resources. Furthermore, research has shown that peer grading and feedback also provides important benefits to the peer graders!

    When peer grading is enabled students will be assigned to review and critique a small number of their classmates’ work. The design and core implementation of peer grading is in progress, but incomplete.

    Open Issues related to Peer Grading

    Advanced features related to peer grading:

    • Evaluating the quality of peer grading (“grading the grader”) by comparing peer grades.

    • Security (ensuring students only see the submission material of peers they have been assigned to grade).

    • Privacy/Anonymity (providing an option to redact student names from material seen by peers).

    Experience Required: Some programming experience, willingness to learn web and database development.

    GSOC Proposal Tag: peer grading

  2. Web Accessibility

    We strive to ensure that all Submitty users can efficiently access information and interact with their peers and instructors through the website. In this project we will continue to refactor the html and css syntax to follow W3C web standards and redesign and improve the appearance and useability of our website.

    Please read this page on Web Accessibility Guidelines.

    Open Issues related to Web Accessibility/VPAT

    Advanced features related to web accessibility:

    • Creation of automated integration tests to ensure sustained accessibility.

    • Refactor css style sheets into modules to facilitate future development.

    Experience Required: Prior experience with web development (e.g., html, css, templating, javascript, and php), and design aesthetic experience is beneficial.

    GSOC Proposal Tag: web accessibility

  3. Mobile-Friendly Website and Progressive Web App (PWA)

    Submitty’s primary platform target are web browsers on standard laptop and desktop computers, where students will do their software development and instructors/TAs will view or download and grade complex assignments.

    However, as Submitty has expanded to include elements from learning management platforms such as a discussion forum, instructor announcements and notifications, student photos and information, small grading tasks such as taking attendance, and presentation of semester grades, our users have requested additional mobile-friendly access and features.

    We have made good progress on revising the css for many of the Submitty pages/features to successfully target a variety of display resolutions. Some of the complex pages still need to be “mobile-ified”: e.g., Discussion Forum, TA grading.

    We would also like to explore the implementation and maintenance of a progressive web app, which would leverage this website re-targeting and allow push notifications.

    Experience Required: Critical eye for visual design, some programming experience with html, css, javascript, reactive designs (e.g., bootstrap), and willingness to learn additional web, database, and mobile computing development technologies. Personal access to variety of different operating systems, and phone/tablet hardware will be beneficial.

    GSOC Proposal Tag: mobile-friendly website

  4. Containers for Automated Grading

    Automated testing of student submitted software carries system and security risks from malicious code but also simply buggy or inefficient code. Upper level coursework on advanced topics in computer science including networking, operating systems, and kernel development are especially complex challenges.

    Submitty supports a variety of tools to securely test including both sandboxing and containerization (Docker). These tools must manage and limit system resources (time, CPU, processes, memory, files, system calls, sockets, etc.)


    We provide container images appropriate for the most common programming languages (Python, C/C++, Java) used in introductory programming courses.

    The next step is to facilitate the creation and server installation of instructor-customized container images (with specific languages, packages, databases, etc.). Care must be taken to ensure small container size and efficient performance.

    Advanced project idea: We would like to use Submitty to automatically test and grade homework assignments that require modifications to the operating system kernel. Before doing so on a production machine, we must need to do testing to ensure the right controls are in place.

    Open Issues related to Container Autograding

    Experience Required: Upper level coursework experience in operating systems and/or networking programming. Experience with virtual machines and Docker containerization is beneficial.

    GSOC Proposal Tag: docker/containers and autograding

  5. Streamline instructor configuration of automated grading

    Currently, instructors must write a configuration as a config.json (and any necessary additional files) and upload or store these files on the local file system. We would like to provide an alternate web GUI interface for creating basic on moderately complex autograding configurations. The goal would be to streamline the assignment configuration process for non-technical instructors, relevant for use in non-computer-science/non-programming courses.

    Assignment Configuration Instructions

    We have preliminary support for automated creation of expected output files (from and instructor solution – currently limited to Python) and randomized test case input. This project will include documentation, examples, and extending output generation to instructor solutions in compiled languages.

    Experience Required: Some programming experience, willingness to learn web and database development. Having served as a teaching assistant or instructor with experience in programming assignment design will be beneficial.

    GSOC Proposal Tag: autograding

  6. Web Sockets for Live Page Updates

    Several modules of the Submitty website would benefit from automatic updates with new data from the server. For example, we have begun implementation to dynamically load new threads and posts in the discussion forum (without requiring the user to manually refresh the page). Other pages that will benefit from live updates include:

    • Office Hours Queue

    • Checkpoint Grading

    • TA Grading

    Experience Required: Prior experience with web development and asynchronous programming (php, javascript, and APIs).

    GSOC Proposal Tag: web sockets

  7. Website Security and Penetration Testing

    Submitty is responsible for securing confidential information. It is important that we regularly assess the security of this data. Once a potential vulnerability is found, the system must be promptly patched and documented to prevent future problems.

    Experience Required: Computer security coursework and/or practical experience searching for system vulnerabilities.

    GSOC Proposal Tag: security/testing

  8. Instructional Materials and Documentation

    We would like to reduce the learning curve for new instructors and provide more starter material for instructors teaching introductory programming courses in middle and high schools, including AP Computer Science.

    Experience Required: Some programming experience, willingness to learn web and database development. Having served as a teaching assistant or instructor with experience in programming assignment design will be beneficial.

    GSOC Proposal Tags: documentation

  9. Static Program Analysis

    We currently using simple lexical (token-based) static analysis in our intro programming courses to verify students are using (or not using) specific language features. In order to expand these checks we are working on producing and analyzing an abstract syntax tree of the submitted code.


    Open Issues related to Static Program Analysis

    Experience Required: Upper level coursework in programming languages, compilers, and/or program analysis.

    GSOC Proposal Tag: autograding

  10. Continuous Integration Testing

    Each commit and pull request to github launches continuous integration testing of a portion of the Submitty code base. We would like to expand the code coverage of our unit and integration tests.

    Experience Required: Advanced programming experience, experience with the relevant programming languages, tuning system performance, etc.

    GSOC Proposal Tag: security/testing

See also: