October / November 2013 was when I stumbled upon Foundation by ZURB. Foundation is the world’s most advanced front-end responsive framework with a focus on being fast for users, fast to code and fast to learn.
I wasn’t looking for a front-end responsive framework when I found Foundation but a responsive image slider. Orbit, Foundation’s image slider, appeared in my search results. It satisfied my needs and I proceeded to use it within the project I was working on. However, I had some issues with implementation but an email conversation with one of the ZURB team members, Rafi, solved the issue and started a journey down a path that I am very happy to have found.
The conversation with Rafi directed me to Foundation Forum, a dedicated place to ask questions about Foundation and find solutions. Looking at various threads on the Forum, I found I could solve some problems. For the problems I could not immediately solve I strived to find the answer, reading through web documentation and conducting experiments on CodePen. My contributions on the Forum aided many coders in finding solutions to problems they have had.
Joining the Foundation community also led me to contribute code to make the world’s most advanced front-end responsive framework truly the best. Apart from the bug fixes some notable contributions I’ve made include allowing the Equalizer component to equalize elements on multiple lines (a demo can be found here: codepen.io/winghouchan/full/zprBc/), adding new functionality to the Off-canvas allowing the menu to overlap content instead of pushing content (a demo can be found here: codepen.io/winghouchan/pen/Aqbpz) and creating accessibility friendly classes (pull request can be found here: github.com/zurb/foundation/pull/4992).
The contributions I have made were especially important for me as it was a channel for personal development.
Working on solutions for problems posted on the Forum and implementing new features to Foundation aided me in becoming more proficient in the languages I worked with. People say “practise makes perfect” and that is certainly true — the more I wrote code, the better I got, becoming more fluent and writing better quality code. My mind was challenged with situations that I had never encountered thus I had an opportunity to solidify existing knowledge and learn new methods that would help formulate solutions.
Participating on the Forum allowed me to meet many other web designers and developers. To talk to people with many more years of experience was fantastic as I gained exclusive insight on how work is done professionally and learn things that could never have been found in a book.
Contributing to Foundation introduced me to professional grade tools that I don’t think I would have found until starting work in a professional environment. Tools such as Git, Grunt and Sass helped make my workflow more efficient; plus having knowledge and experience using them would be invaluable to professional work.
And finally the open source nature of the project has left a solid impression on me. As a student, resources are hard to come by due to limits on money. Many professional tools have a significant price tag (I’m looking at you, Adobe Creative Cloud), so any tools that have a low cost or are free are really appreciated. Foundation is a tool that is free to use; contributing to it to make it better for every user is one of the highest messages of appreciation. Furthermore open source principles embedded into the Foundation project influence my own work ethos. Work I do aims to put the goal of making the world a better place first and placing personal profit second.
Foundation is a fast moving project and I’m extremely happy to have been a part of it. It was a great time of self-learning, building a professional connections and a real eye-opener into the world of professional web design and development from a viewpoint of a student.
Unfortunately, good things come to an end, and my time contributing to Foundation is drawing to a close. I’ll miss the Forum and the community which has been an excellent teacher and it was a shame I couldn’t accept the invitation to review the Foundation for Apps release candidate. Personal projects and school are taking up the time I have to actively contribute to Foundation.
But before I go, I wanted to say thank you for the opportunity and paths that have been paved as a result!
Maybe in the future I’ll come back ;)