Why You Should Contribute to Open Source Projects

Tiphaine Boyer
Ovio
Published in
4 min readSep 15, 2020

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With an increasing amount of industry leaders turning to open source solutions, comes more opportunities for developers to invest in their own expertise. Contributing to open source projects, gives you the chance to play a role in the modernization of a variety of IT approaches, such as cloud computing, automation, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. By joining this ecosystem of innovation and collaboration, you can make a positive impact on a project that’s right for you. Let’s walk through some of the motivations behind open source collaborating and the value in making a contribution.

Thousands of developers have come together in the fight against covid, using, and developing open-source solutions: Covid collection
  1. Develop new skills and sharpen existing ones

Actively participating in an open source project, whether you’re writing code, drafting documentation, or creating graphics, provides a learning opportunity. Whether you’re a student or a senior developer, you’ll gain valuable experience engaging with an ongoing project. You will receive feedback from experienced developers, as well as have the chance to establish yourself in a community with other collaborators. In addition to sharpening your tech skills, the people skills you can learn from participating in an open source project can serve you for work as well.

2. Boost your visibility

Because these projects live in open repositories on social coding sites, like Github, you have the chance to build a track record of your work, which anyone can view. Today, tech recruiters are using Github to find new talent. Some teams even use open source contributions to test candidates for software developer jobs. In other words, by making your code public and working on open source code, you’re building an online portfolio easily accessible to potential employers. It’s essential to create a portfolio that represents your work on your own terms. It will supplement your resume and show how you have developed your skills over time.

3. Get involved with a community

OSS project participation provides the opportunity to meet a broader variety of people than you are likely to at work or at home. Many projects have contributors from all over the world. When you join an open source community, you immediately become acquainted with solution-oriented people, who also share a common interest in the project. You can learn from each other while working towards a common goal — to do something for others that makes an impact. By simply joining a community, contributing to a PR or commenting on an issue, you will network and engage with new acquaintances!

4. Make an impact

The open source community brings people from around the world together to find solutions to today’s most complex challenges. Currently, the open source community plays a vital role in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. With thousands of projects and millions of contributors, open source software is being used to support case tracking efforts with models, datasets, visualizations, and digital applications. You can play a part in supporting the healthcare system and our government’s understanding of Covid-19.

Many ways to contribute

Open source contributions are not only about code! There are plenty of ways contributors can get involved with a project. Of course, rather a lot of code is involved, but there is more than code to a successful OSS. Here is a list of some contributions:

  • Submitting issues means sending messages about errors in applications and suggesting ways to fix them with a bug report.
  • Contributing code involves sending pull requests with your corrections and improvements.
  • Documentation edits help maintainers provide more information about the technology itself.
  • Q&A …the nature of an open source project is to encourage feedback, questions and suggestions for improvement.
  • UX/UI design is often needed for a variety of projects to improve their functional and visual design
  • Code review and code testing is essential to make sure the software works properly.
  • Marketing initiatives help promote a project to attract more contributors, grow its visibility and increase its credibility within the community.
  • Release management involves managing, planning and controlling the stages of a software build for consumption.
  • Security reviews involve testing the source code for vulnerabilities and analyzing it for weaknesses.

Bug triage is necessary to address flaws in the function of the software.

If you’re looking to develop new skills, collaborate with like-minded individuals, distinguish yourself in the open source community, or make an impact on a project that matters to you, consider participating in an open source project. By establishing connections between passionate volunteers and innovative tech projects, Ovio is here to make open source more accessible to you. Get started and see our curated list of projects.

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