The whole idea of open source software is to make better software, and the best way to learn how to do this is in the wild. It’s important to have a system for figuring out what open source project you want to contribute to. There are a lot of great possible steps that you can take, including finding a contributing bug on an easy to fix or well written project.
This guide is for people who want to learn more about Open Source projects. It starts from the very beginning, what open source software is and why it matters. It then guides you through identifying a problem, picking an appropriate project and communicating with the developers effectively. Finally, it covers how to learn from reading the code, debugging and refactoring and how to get your changes merged in if you’re lucky enough!
Get to know GitHub
GitHub is the most popular platform for open source collaboration, so you’ll probably use it when exploring the world of OSS. First, you need to create a GitHub account and read the guide that helps you get started. On GitHub, you can contribute to projects by submitting issues and contributing code. Submitting issues means sending messages about errors in applications and suggesting ways to fix them. Contributing code involves sending pull requests with your corrections and improvements.
Improve software you rely on
Lots of open source contributors start by being users of software they contribute to. When you find a bug in an open source software you use, you may want to look at the source to see if you can patch it yourself. If that’s the case, then contributing the patch back is the best way to ensure that your friends (and yourself when you update to the next release) will be able to benefit from it.
Learn the basics
When working with GitHub, you should know how to use Git – one of the most popular version control tools (also known as revision control tools). Because developers constantly make changes to their code, they need a system that can manage those changes in a central repository. In this way, everyone involved in the development process can download a given piece of software, make changes, and submit updates.
Join the community
You can easily join an open source project by subscribing to the mailing list for that project. You can find mailing lists on official websites or on GitHub pages. After being accepted to the list, you can communicate with team members and get support if necessary. Thanks to the vibrant communities present in nearly every OSS project, you are likely to get quick replies to your questions.
All skills are welcomed
Even non-programmers can contribute to open source projects! Documentation is needed for all projects, and sometimes this is poorly written and maintained. Thus, you can help by writing, updating or even translating documentation. Also, your design skills might come in handy: every application needs an interface, after all. Finally, you can contribute by managing a community by replying to questions and guiding newcomers.
It’s empowering to be able to make changes, even small ones
You don’t have to become a lifelong contributor to enjoy participating in open source. Have you ever seen a typo on a website, and wished someone would fix it? On an open source project, you can do just that. Open source helps people feel agency over their lives and how they experience the world, and that in itself is gratifying.
How anyone can contribute to open source software in their job
Necessity is the mother of invention, especially in open source. Many folks build open source solutions to their own problems. But what happens when developers miss the mark by building products without gathering feedback from their target users?
Product and design teams often fill this gap in enterprises. What should developers do if such roles don’t exist on their open source teams?
In this article, Catherine Robson explains how open source teams can collect feedback from their target users. It’s written for folks who want to share their work experiences with developers, thus contributing their feedback to open source projects.
The steps Catherine outlines will help you share your insights with open source teams and play a key role helping teams build better products.
Meet people who are interested in similar things
Open source projects with warm, welcoming communities keep people coming back for years. Many people form lifelong friendships through their participation in open source, whether it’s running into each other at conferences or late night online chats about burritos.
Contribute to open source healthcare projects for COVID-19
Did you know that an Italian hospital saved COVID-19 patients’ lives by 3D printing valves for reanimation devices? It’s one of many ways open source contributors built solutions for the pandemic in 2020.
In this article, Joshua Pearce shares several ways to volunteer with open source projects addressing COVID-19. While Project Open Air is the largest, Joshua explains how you can also work on a wiki for an open source ventilator, write open source COVID-19 medical supply requirements, test an open source oxygen concentrator prototype, and more.
Contribute to existing open source projects
You can find many projects you are free to participate in on GitHub – a developer-oriented platform with a simple but essential set of functionality. GitHub attracts developers with public APIs, a sleek and frequently updated UI, gists (Git repositories) that allow you to share pieces of code or even whole applications, and much more. You can contribute to free software in many ways. Developers can fork projects, make changes to code, and send pull requests. And quality assurance is always appreciated. Sometimes developers are too busy or too lazy to check the quality of their code. So go ahead and report a bug or try to fix it – your help is appreciated.
You can reach the hottest GitHub projects by following the “Trending” link. And in order to make your search more relevant, use advanced search: select the language you would like to code in and choose “best match” criteria. Best match ranks projects according to relevance, taking into account the number of forks (which represents how actively the project is updated) and stars (“likes”, in the language of Facebook). Most projects have known issues (however, some don’t) with labels like “bug”, “discussion”, “security”, or “refactor”, or other labels according to the level of difficulty: “easy”, “medium”, “hard.”
Do you want to learn Open Source Project? You’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find the best resources on learning how to contribute to an open source project.