Open Source is a licensing that allows users to modify, improve, control, and generally contribute to the development of a software or tech product. Open Source stems from the concept of a programmer or a team innovating new technologies. Still, the technology is open to allow some other programmer or team to study to improve, enlarge, or generally contribute to the effectiveness and maintenance of the technology. Instead of being controlled and maintained by a group, it opens its community to interested contributors and obliges everyone to shared control.
These kinds of projects have added immense value to the development community and the world and have been behind many innovations and maintaining innovations. The flexibility and transparency that open source makes possible add an extra star to your hat, thus having hidden opportunities open to exploration. In this article, I intend to help you understand and make you consider being a contributor to open source. The ongoing HacktoberFest 2022 can be a starting point for you, and you will surely enjoy the opportunities embedded in contributing to open source.
Effects of Open Source
From the mode of operation of Open Source, there have been several ways through which the development community and the entire public have benefited and still benefit directly or indirectly from Open Source. Some of these ways are discussed below.
Free Access Most Open Source innovations are accessible for free to the entire public. Although these innovations are relevant solutions to diverse issues, they do not come with a price tag for usage but are well-maintained, improved, and competitive. From the likes of Mozilla Firefox web browser to WordPress to LibreOffice suite, and many more projects that deliver results to use daily but are usually without a premium attached to them.
Compatibility It is scarcely a challenge to face compatibility issues while working with Open Source, although the tech world improves continuously. The development community is usually abreast with evolving technologies and puts in massive efforts to ensure the technology or software is evolving with the times. Even in cases where the update requires more than the community members can handle, they are always open to new ideas and collaborations, which guarantees continuous functionality of their technology.
Transparency & Control Open Source usually involves a very transparent workflow. This attribute allows programmers to study how the technology works and can cause them to contribute to the project. Users can also get control of the technology, which ripples into more confidence in the deliverability of the technology. An example of such Open Source projects is Open Replay.
How to Get Started with Open Source
Open Source being quite welcoming, has many ways you can contribute. You may choose to try a technology with a new concept and demonstrate that use case, re-write their documentation to cover some key things that you think are left out, or improve the technology/software in any way; all those are contributions to Open Source. To get started, first you need to locate a project with an Open Source license and read and understand its contribution guidelines and code of conduct. Then, ensure you are conversant with their programming language and decide the contribution you wish to make. For code-based contributions, you submit a pull request; for non-code contributions, submit them to the collaborator.
After submitting the pull request, the updates you make will be in your branch and the maintainer can easily see it and merge it if it works for them. You can learn how to submit a pull request here.
Open Source Session ReplayOpenReplay is an open-source, session replay suite that lets you see what users do on your web app, helping you troubleshoot issues faster. OpenReplay is self-hosted for full control over your data. Start enjoying your debugging experience - start using OpenReplay for free.
Opportunities in Open Source
Developers are encouraged to participate in Open Source as it helps them in several ways. It might not be a huge project for a start, but your contribution is what matters. It’s also important to note that many Open Source contributions do not come with attached payments, but it shouldn’t deter you as there are ways you will be rewarding yourself directly or indirectly.
Strengthen coding knowledge and skills Programming has to do with solving problems; the more problems you can decipher and solve, the stronger you get as a programmer. In this sense, contributing to Open Source allows you to interact daily with different problems. The more you can solve in contribution to Open Source, the better at programming you will become.
Easily acquire the experience you need to stand out before employers It is a well-known fact that as programmers differ, their problem-solving methods differ. In contributing to Open Source, you as a programmer get to connect with different programmers who will expose you to different methods of solving problems, and all of this experience solidifies your stand as a programmer/developer, which will be very important when you are being considered for a role by an employer in future.
Get open to more considerable employment opportunities As soon as you contribute your knowledge and expertise to an Open Source project and you continue contributing, as much as you keep learning and improving yourself, it comes across as you being competent and experienced in the tech field; that can open you up to a wide range of employment opportunities from international organizations you might have never envisaged being considered in.
Be a part of enhancing software’s usability and commercial viability. As a developer/programmer, one of your goals is to create lasting solutions to day-to-day challenges facing your society and the world. We are supposed to innovate ways to solve these challenges with Tech. Now, with the presence of Open Source, as much as nothing stops you from creating solutions, you can seize the opportunity to add further innovation and usability to the software with your input. In which and in which ways can the software be improved, and how can that improve the usability and commercial viability of the software? If you have a solution to that concern, deploying it to improve the software is an excellent opportunity for you. You immediately contribute to innovations that make things easier for the tech community or the world at large.
Build Popularity Among Peers and the Developer Community As you contribute, it will interest you to know that a lot of fellow developers, both junior and advanced, come across your input and visibility and can help you network better. You know there’s no telling where a network can land you, as it can be the opportunity you need for your status to be transformed. Building popularity in the developer community cannot be gotten any other way except by your contributions, but the network is something you want to harness as a developer.
Find Open Source Projects to Take Part in
At this point, I believe you want to participate in Open Source already; therefore, I have looked for five platforms where you can kick-start contributing to Open Source. Here, no matter your programming language, you would be able to find a project to contribute to. They are:
Metrics to Spot Good Open Source Opportunity/Projects as a Beginner
Finally, as a beginner, you need to start contributing to open source but there are some things to consider and look out for to make effective contributions within effective developer communities.
Are they Active? In every open-source project, the activeness of the repository gives you an overview of its responsiveness to your pull requests and messages. You need to check for the last time there was a merge, the number of issues, how regularly they are being closed, etc. If it doesn’t look really good, you could face a possible delay in having your messages answered, your pull request considered, or a merge completed. This isn’t what you want to face as a contributor.
Do they have a license? Open Source projects usually have a license stating that they are open source and other relevant details they want contributors to understand before they can contribute to the project. This license, code of conduct, or agreement shows how the project owners value contributors.
Where is it Listed? One exciting way to spot and contribute to Open Source projects is to participate in open-source festivals like the ongoing HacktoberFest 2022. These festivals are usually put together to encourage open-source contribution; thus, projects listed there are active and meet the necessary standards; as such, developer festivals can be an excellent place to start your journey in contributing to open source.
The State of the Issue You must understand that contributions are only live when they are completed and cross-checked by the maintainers. A lot of times, the issue you spotted and want to contribute to has been spotted by another contributor, so you should consider the state of the issue. Is it something you can work on and complete in the shortest possible time? Because if someone submits before you, your contribution might not be considered.
No matter what, it is essential to contribute to open source. You should, as much as you can, contribute in any way you can and can be relevant to the project and the community. As I have shown, there are many opportunities to benefit from as a contributor to open source, so you want to always look out for ways to contribute both code-based and non-code contributions. You can find non-code ways to contribute here. By contributing to open source, we are making the developer community and the world at large better and better.
A TIP FROM THE EDITOR: Don’t miss other articles on Hacktoberfest, such as How To Make Your First Pull Request At Hacktoberfest and What NOT To Do At Hacktoberfest 2022!