Open Source refers to programs with source codes made freely available to users (usually developers) for use and/or modification as they want. Open source projects are usually developed through collaborations from members of the public.
Sharing is caring
One reason that developers contribute to open source projects is that they want to make the world a better place. These people believe that the fruits of their intellectual labour should be made available for free. The world is still full of good people who are willing to share.
Learning on the job
Another motivation that drives software developers to contribute to open source projects is the need to learn on the job. Contributing to open source projects is a great way to learn and improve, especially for beginners. You can start by writing documentation, fixing bugs and writing clean code. Your contribution will drive you to write cleaner code when you realise that you are writing code to be shared with the whole world of developers.
Open source projects also serve as an avenue to meet other like-minded developers and potential clients or even long-term employers. Your contribution serves as a portfolio.
You can not ignore open source projects
These tell you that as a software developer, you have absolutely no reason to ignore open source projects. They are the launch pad through which your career as a developer can be shot to success.
Now, what should you consider before you start contributing to open source software?
Programming Language - There are several programming languages and every open source project is based on one or a few of these languages.
Project type - The type of project is also a factor when deciding on open source software to contribute to. You should pick what you are interested in and familiar with for starters.
Work Volume - When picking open-source projects, be sure to start with projects you can handle. As a beginner, contributing to projects involving thousands and thousands of lines of code is a recipe for disaster. Start small and grow into the game.
When considering contributing to open source projects, GitHub is still the largest platform for open source collaboration. It is where many get started as a beginner to the world of open source projects. Start by learning the basics of the platform. The platform allows you to submit issues and contribute to the code. Git is the tool on GitHub used for version control, to make sure that the various changes made to code by the different contributors align.
Some ways to take advantage of open source projects include-
Contributing to an existing open source project- which is what this article has been about all along. However, there are alternatives if you cannot find an open source project that fits your specs.
- One way is to create a new project from whatever idea you may already have. It has to be one that solves a problem.
- Another alternative is to create an open source version of an already existing software. This will encourage innovation as more people from diverse backgrounds can work on such a project.
After highlighting all of these, what legitimate reason do you have for ignoring contribution to open source projects? Also, did you know that not only coders can contribute to open source projects? There are other areas that require attention, such as documentation or software interface.
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