Roadmap Series: Open Source Contribution

by Harsh Pailkar

I believe many of us have heard of “Open Sourcing,” or maybe not; nevertheless, what is preventing you from becoming acquainted with and contributing to open source projects? I completely realise that it might be intimidating for inexperienced programmers, but what better opportunity to learn something new than today? And don’t worry, we’ve got you covered when it comes to getting started. Continue reading the blog to learn more about Open Source and how to begin with contributing.

What is Open Source Software?

Open Source Softwares are those whose source codes (unseen by users code that programmers can edit to make changes to the application or website) are made available so that others can modify and improve them. It is typically distributed under licences such as BSD, MIT, and others. You can refer to What is open source?, to know more about it.

Perks of Contributing to Open Source Softwares

Reading code generated by skilled programmers is definitely a far better way to learn about new coding methods than reading a 500-page book. Another significant benefit of open sourcing is community building. You get to meet individuals from all around the world and engage with them. This is a fantastic method to acquire new skills and understand how things function in the real world. Aside from them, you may create a remarkable resume that sticks out from the crowd and also build a strong online presence!

Types of Contributions One Can Make to Open Source

There are numerous ways in which you can contribute to open source projects ranging from code-based to non-code-based. As a code based contribution one can discover and fix bugs in the project. Once you’ve mastered it, you may begin to add minor and major features to the project.

Those who are not from a coding background can assist a project by making comments on existing code and APIs, as well as adding context and writing documentation for the project. Pick up a task that interests you and start contributing accordingly. You can watch this YouTube video by freeCodeCamp.org to know more about how to contribute.

How do Open Source Projects Work

Every open source project has its own method of doing things. Some of them enable anybody to contribute, while others require you to work your way up in order to do so. Contribution guidelines explain how to contribute to a project, how to contact someone about a contribution, how to convey issues and patches, how to submit your work and the project goals, among other things. Some projects may include a code of conduct that outlines the community’s norms and expectations for behaviour. Make sure you follow these rules during your involvement; they will help you become a professional contributor and a good community member.

Even after reading all of these documents, it is a good idea to discuss any questions or issues you have with the project’s active community members. This aids you in gaining a deeper understanding of topics as well as community development. It is necessary to have a strong grasp of the technical elements of the project in order for your contributions to fit the project’s level and standards. To learn about the technical ideas, consult the project READMEs, tutorials, and other documentations that are accessible.

Finding Projects Within Your Niche

Finding projects that you’re comfortable working with is a good way to make valuable contributions. This Github repository by MunGell will help you find good beginner projects to contribute to based on your technical knowledge. You can also search for projects that you like and verify whether they are open source by checking its license and whether they are active.

Another way to improve your GitHub searches is by searching for contribution tags like good-first-issue, good-first-bug, beginner-friendly, easy, low-hanging-fruit, first-timers-only, etc. Filter search results to only show issues that are open and in the languages you want to deal with. There are a slew of additional tools, platforms, and programmes where you may look for open source projects, which I’ll mention down below to assist you in your quest.

Avoid forums that are unfriendly to newcomers and generally difficult if you want to have a pleasant contributing experience. It’s better to stay away if you receive dismissive and aggressive comments or insults while attempting to ask reasonable questions. A trend of unprofessional behaviour within a community is another indication to be on the lookout for. This has been a problem with certain open source software projects in the past. So, before you contribute, do your study.

Here is another article by Hackerearth, which will help you find some good beginner projects to contribute to. Also refer to this GitHub repository by freeCodeCamp for additional information.

Some other good projects that you can contribute to are:

  1. Awesome for open source beginners
  2. Bugzilla
  3. Code triage
  4. Contributor.ninja
  5. First contributions
  6. First-timers only
  7. Hacktoberfest
  8. Gauger.io
  9. Issuehub
  10. Open source handbook
  11. Open source programs
  12. Opensource.guide
  13. Pull request roulette
  14. Your first PR
  15. 30 Seconds of Code
  16. TensorFlow Models

Summary

In many respects, open-source software has transformed computer science. It is currently a profession that is fueled by a thriving community of developers who work on their passion projects while still earning a job. Many people go from novice to expert levels of knowledge and competence because of open source initiatives. These are essential for each prospective programmer’s development.

GitHub alone is a gold mine for aspiring programmers looking to get their foot in the door. It is the ideal place for novices to collaborate with their peers and learn as they contribute. There are projects designed specifically for novices, as well as vast libraries of high-level ideas that welcome newcomers. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn and improve as a developer.

Check out Subh’s article titled “The Deal with Hacktoberfest 2021” to know more about the event. Follow our medium page for more such interesting blog pieces on trending topics. Make sure to leave a comment if you enjoyed it.

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A computer fraternity at Vellore Institute of Technology, Bhopal aiming at providing a hands-on learning experience to students.

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A computer fraternity at Vellore Institute of Technology, Bhopal aiming at providing a hands-on learning experience to students.