Budding developers often rely on online tutorials and references to build their foundation of coding. As it is with any form of learning, this simply imparts knowledge to the learner. It is hardly a source of hands-on experience and practical application skills.
This is why all beginner developers should commit to projects that help them to apply their skills and learn more in the process. These projects can be a solo effort for them to test their skills, or as a team, with fellow devs from around the world.
Open source projects are an excellent way for coders and developers to test their mettle and learn more advanced methods. In an open-source project, there will be many contributors of varying skill levels and expertise.
Each contributor adds to the project according to their capabilities, and a combined effort leads to the fulfillment of the goal. Therefore, it is the best way for any individual to learn, gain practical experience, and understand what it’s like to work with a team of peers.
There are a number of reasons to contribute to OSS (open-source software). Let’s see what motivates developers to contribute.
First, there are a lot of enthusiasts who simply believe that code should be open. They’re idealists who want to make the world a better place, and it drives them to contribute code. The desire to share can be a powerful motivator.
Second, OSS gives you a great start. Beginners might start by fixing minor things, such as a bug in a library, sending a pull request, or even writing a piece of documentation. However, beginner developers can also learn to write so-called “clean code” – code that is readable and maintainable – while contributing to open source projects. When developers realize that their code is exposed to the world, it makes them focus on making that code easy to understand and support. Programmers stick to generally accepted rules within a team, which include norms for indents, descriptions of methods and classes, variable names, and following the don’t-repeat-yourself rule. In a nutshell, when contributing to free projects you’re obliged to conform to the norms of a project.
Third, you get the chance to be part of an active open source community where you can meet like-minded people and supporters. Moreover, if you’re a freelancer and actively contribute to open source projects, you increase your chances of being noticed by potential employers. Below are some of the open source projects developers and beginners can work on.
30 Seconds of Code
In short, this is a repository of easily digestible data that can simultaneously be used to learn and contribute to beginners. This may not be a project that beginners can contribute to, but it is still a great start for people looking to grasp concepts.
2. First Contributions
This project is, quite obviously, for GitHub users who are looking to make their first contribution to GitHub. It walks you through the procedural steps that you would have to take to make a contribution to open source projects. After you are done, it will also redirect you to a list of projects you can tackle through their own webpage. It has over 13,200 stars and almost 33,000 forks on GitHub.
3. TensorFlow Models
TensorFlow projects are for those new developers who are interested in Machine Learning and Deep Learning. Beginners should ideally learn from some TensorFlow Tutorials and observe the official models before contributing to any project.
Currently, the GitHub TensorFlow Model Garden contains projects of Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision. These official models are a collection that uses TensorFlow’s high-level APIs and is to be properly curated, tested, and updated to keep up with the latest build. These models are also intended to be properly optimized so that they run the same or faster with each new build.
There are many projects on GitHub and other similar sources that are aimed at beginners. Some of these are meant to educate by providing you with study materials, while others are more like walkthroughs or practice exercises. Whatever the case may be, these are beginner-friendly projects and often the place to start. However, this is not at all the case in all projects marked as a “good first issue”.
Some of the high-level apps, websites, platforms, and projects also offer work that is fit for beginners. This is mainly because the high-level works are done by people who have the necessary qualifications to do so, but the project is still open-sourced and contains many tasks to be done on all levels of difficulty. Here are some intricate projects that also offer a spot for the newcomers to tackle real issues while learning the ropes.
Zulip is one of the fastest-growing open-source projects on the internet and is an open-source group chat application. It combines instant real-time messaging with the utility of threaded conversations and runs on open-source platforms. The app’s team offers many tasks that a beginner level programmer can perform to learn as well as add to their portfolio.
On Zulip, you can be one of the many contributors to the platform by contributing code as well as performing non-code contributions such as reporting issues, translation, or giving feedback to improve the app. You can also host and run a Zulip server, which runs on many platforms, including Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic, Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial, and Debian 9 Stretch.
Neovim is tagged “good first issue” on GitHub, which indicates that it is suitable for people looking for their first open-source projects on GitHub. Vim is a powerful text editor over two decades old and has a rich, fostering community surrounding it. It has accumulated over 300,000 lines of C89 code that very few people can even comprehend, and even fewer dare to touch.
Neovim puts forward a solution to the headache of fostering Vim by re-factoring its source code. This aims to make maintenance easier by accelerating bug fixes and addition of new features, add modern UI without affecting the source code, splitting the work among multiple devs, and add a new plugin architecture that will improve its extensibility power.
This project is not a mission to rewrite Vim but to change it to suit modern times. The changes will have as little impact as possible on the source code. With almost 40,000 stars on GitHub, this is a very popular project in the community.
pen source projects bring many benefits to those who participate in them, and such experience is great for your CV. By joining a community of like-minded people and polishing up your skills, you can give yourself a step up as an aspiring developer. We’ve listed common reasons why people contribute to OSS projects, and described various ways to get started. If you would like to read more about contributing to OSS projects, check out our previous articles about how open source projects penetrate the IT market and about the security of free software.