Scared about contributing to open source? Don’t!
At the end of mod 4 at Turing School of Software and Design we were asked to contribute to open source as part of our rubric (grading methodology). The experience, which was my first, was quite pleasant and I’m going to share it with you.
For many programmers, me included, the thought of contributing to open source projects seemed difficult and time-consuming, which I found out is not the case. In fact, the hardest part was getting started. So I’m going to pass on some of the things I did to find my way to a meaningful contribution at a level that was most comfortable to me.
The easiest way to get started is to browse through Github, check for issues, report a bug. It can be intimidating but remember you don’t have to commit to something big on your first try. Look for labels like ‘Beginners welcome’, ‘html’, ‘css’, ‘styles’, ‘help wanted’. Once you have some familiarity with the code base, you can really start challenging yourself.
In my case, I found an application called “Rails Girls”; their mission is to get more women into tech, which I find very compelling.
First, I started browsing issues on their Github repo. I was going after something simple that would allow me to get myself familiar with the code base. After a while I found the right one and proceeded to cloning down the repo. After a short conversation with the administrator of the project, I was able to get a clear understanding of what was needed and the issue was officially assigned to me.
Thankfully, the application “Rails Girls — Summer of code”, had a very good readme file on how to setup the project in your local environment and on how to approach PR’s, submitting issues or bugs. So it was very easy for someone like me, a first-time contributor, to get started.
Jumping into a new application can be a little scary, especially because you don’t want to break anything. With that in mine, I was very careful of what I touched. The issue I worked on was pretty simple, they needed some help organizing the images file structure, so I went in and got to work on arranging the files. A little time and effort was all it took and the issue was solved — I had made my very first PR to open source — nice and simple!
Now I can’t wait to go back and keep helping. 😀