Why You Should Commit to Learning with Open Source

Yashu Mittal

Chances are you’ve probably encountered the term “Open Source” before. Open Source Software, or OSS, is a kind of software that whose code is made available for everyone to read. Depending on the license, you can most likely reuse it in any of your applications.

Contributing to open source is a lot like volunteering You’re freely giving your time, thoughts, and skills. But like most things, getting started is usually the hardest hurdle. There are a lot of projects and choices. It can be overwhelming.

Have no fear. Stick with it. You’ll find your community.

If you’re just beginning to explore, here are a few quick ways to avoid the dreaded impostor syndrome and get committing:

1. Read the contributor guidelines

This is the single most important thing you can do. Most projects have a text based file right off the root directory called CONTRIBUTING. If not, check the readme file and see if there are instructions there. They’ll tell you what’s expected on both what style you should be writing your new code in and how to get your changes submitted. As long as you follow their contribution guidelines, any little bit you can contribute will be much appreciated.

2. Correct or enhance documentation

GitHub provides a very simple way to do this using an online text editor, and allows you to submit the request from the same page. After your first commit is accepted, you’ll be very proud about the change you made. Everyone will have the correct documentation, all thanks to you. It’ll feel good.

3. Add tests

Practicing writing tests will help you get ready to start diving in deeper and fixing issues. Most projects will ask that you provide a test showing that your fix or enhancement works and didn’t break other code.

4. Be open-minded

So what do you say? Wanna give it a try? If you’re looking to gain confidence that you can do this work when you set out on your coding journey and are ready to give OSS a whirl, check out Up For Grabs. This awesome site lists projects that embrace new contributors. It uses labels on GitHub issues, and is a great way to get started on your new favorite habit.

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