Combining open source with lean methodology

As a developer, there are so many open source projects that help you out on daily basis that it feels normal to give back to the community.

After dropping some pieces of code in public repositories on Github, I understood that delivering a helpful open source project is far more work than just writing and sharing some code snippets. Open source projects I love have great documentation, great guides to help you get started and maintain the code they share so that it keeps being an awesome project.

To me, the problem boils down to a simple question:

What is the biggest impact I can make with the small amount of free time I have?

Lean methodology to the rescue

The goal of the Lean methodology is to keep focus on useful work, which is what I’m looking for. My goal is then to start the Build-Measure-Learn loop and make is as short in time as possible to avoid to lose time on any of the steps.

The choice of the metric is always really important, as it guides you toward your goal. Here I want to focus on helping people, so I chose to measure the number of people my project would help.

Build

Here is the smallest thing I could “build” that could enable me to measure the impact of my project, a twitter poll:

Measure

Three persons took the time to answer. First of all, thanks to you who answered the poll :) However to me 2 persons interested in a piece of code they might not even use isn’t worth the time.

Learn

I won’t share the code, because it won’t help, instead, I’ll continue focusing on building the startup I’ve co-founded: Findify (an on-site search engine for e-commerce stores).

Conclusion

I could look at this story as a failure, but I actually see it as time saved. Instead of create “one more” open source project, I saved the time to do build other things!

I’d love to hear your opinion on how much effort you think should be put in an open source project!


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