How to Make Your First Contribution to an Open Source Project. This guide will introduce you to the open source world and help you make your first contribution
From micro libraries to full-featured frameworks, web to desktop applications, mobile apps to entire operating systems, the open source community provides us with exceptional solutions — and it’s all thanks to people from all over the world who contribute with code, documentation, translations, etc. 24/7.
Because of the vast amount and diversity of projects out there, making your first contribution to the community can be an overwhelming task. For this reason, I decided to build this guide to help you find your way and take your first steps to becoming an open source contributor.
Before we get started, I want to emphasize that contrary to popular belief, open source contributions are not necessarily restricted to developers. You can contribute in many ways other than with code (e.g. helping with designs, documentation, translations, testing, specifications, even by providing financial aid). Don’t run shy if you don’t know how to code. All contributions are welcome and help make for a better and more open world.
This is great! Now we are familiarized with the importance of your contributions, but why would you contribute?
This is a great question to get us started. In some cases, people contribute to open source just for fun, practice, or because they simply want to share with the world what they are doing. However, contributing to open source projects can be very beneficial. Let’s explore a few reasons why this is true.
Getting a job can be very hard when you still have no practical experience, but how do you gain practical experience without first landing a job? Enter the open source world. The open source community won’t reject you if you have no experience. Perhaps at first, you would have to level your contributions to match your expertise, but gradually, you can get involved in more complex tasks as you earn knowledge and experience.
You can later showcase as part of your resume or portfolio all your open source contributions to potential employers or customers to validate your credentials and prove that you know what you are talking about.
Leaving the excellent joke aside, many developers work on side projects for various reasons. Companies often ask something like “What do you work on in your free time?” during interviews, expecting some answer related to working on open source projects. Companies like candidates who love what they do because only when you love something will you do it to the best of your ability.
Working on open source projects will show employers that you have a passion for your job, don’t settle down, and have an aptitude for learning and staying on top of the new technologies and tools.
Open source today is a word that often include a lot of things, such as open knowledge (Wikimedia projects), open hardware (Arduino, Raspberry Pi), open formats (ODT/ODS/ODP) and so on.
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