How to Contribute to Open Source Projects with Your Coding Skills

Understand Why and How you can contribute to Open Source Projects with your coding skills.

Open Source projects are the source codes released in the public so that aspiring coders can study it, see it how it works and can also make some contributions to the errors and faults in those projects. In this article, I will take you through how to contribute to Open Source projects with your coding skills and why you should contribute to the Open Source projects.

From small modules to full frameworks, from web apps to desktop apps, from mobile apps to entire operating systems, the community behind so many open source projects provides us with exceptional solutions and it’s all thanks to people all over the world contributing. with code, documentation, translations, etc.

Also, Read – What is Code Review and How to Do a Code Review?

Due to the large quantity and variety of projects, making your first contribution to the community can be an overwhelming task. So to help you in this situation, I decided to introduce you to why and how to contribute to Open Source projects with your coding skills.

Why You Should Contribute to Open Source Projects?

So why you should contribute to Open Source projects. 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 you should contribute to Open Source projects.

You Get Experience:

Getting a job can be very difficult when you still don’t have hands-on experience, but how do you get hands-on experience without first getting a job? Enter the Open source world. The community behind Open source projects will not reject you if you have no experience.

At first, you may need to level your contributions to match your expertise, but gradually you can get involved in more complex tasks as you gain knowledge and experience.

You Understand How Technology Works:

Using an app or library is one thing, but knowing exactly how it works gives you a whole new perspective. For example, knowing how to create a web component will allow you to create web applications.

However, understanding how the Component Library works will allow you to increase the efficiency of your application and get the most out of its functionality.

You Connect with Professionals:

Because even developers are human beings, we love to be a part of something. It fills our hearts to be recognized, to share and talk about the things we love, and to be part of a community, that’s all.

Also, when we talk about open source, we can’t talk about a single community, but thousands of them focusing on different projects or technologies, grouped by language or location, with enough options to allow us to find where we feel comfortable and welcome.

How To Contribute To Open Source Projects

I hope you now have clearly understood why should contribute to Open Source Projects and let’s move further with how you can contribute to the Open Source Projects. 

Now there are many companies and communities offer Open Source projects you can choose to contribute any of those but the process below to contribute to the Open Source Projects will stay the same.

Think How You Want To Contribute:

You probably already have an idea of how you want to contribute, but knowing in advance what kind of contribution you will be making is essential for the next step. Are you planning to contribute with code? Test? Documentation? Translations?

I want to stop here for an important remark: no contribution is too small. All help. It is thanks to many small contributions that projects become big. You might have more than one idea, and that’s great. Keep them in mind for the next steps.

Choose a Project:

The first ideas that come to mind for most people are projects that they use daily. However, this is not necessarily the best option to get you started. Depending on the maturity and complexity of a project, it can be difficult for someone to start making contributions. Ideally, you would find a project suited to your level of experience and area of knowledge.

But how do you find a project then? Lucky for us, there are a few websites that follow projects that are known to be suitable for beginners. They do this in different ways, but they mainly focus on specific open tasks that are tagged by the maintenance team as such.

Some of the popular websites where you can grab your first contributions are:

You can also select multiple projects at this step. It can also be an iterative process over time.

Find An Issue:

In the previous step, you selected the projects you would like to collaborate on. Now is the time for you to tackle a specific problem or task. Many Open Source projects live on GitHub, so we’ll walk through the process by following the steps for that platform. 

However, if by chance your project is hosted on another platform, the steps will be very similar to contribute to Open Source Projects with your coding skills.

Depending on your skill level, you may want to start with an easy task, and there are project managers who will make it easier for you to get started. Even though GitHub doesn’t have a particular feature for highlighting the complexity of a task, there are standard methods for users to tag them.

The most common on GitHub is to use specific labels applied to issues. Labels such as “good first issue” or “beginners only” will indicate tasks that are fairly easy to undertake at the start until you become more familiar with the project and its specifics.

Another often used standard label is “help needed”. This particular label is applied by managers for different complexities when seeking outside help.

Either way, whether or not a task contains the labels, you should always comment on the issue and talk to the project leaders about your interest in helping, making sure they are ok with it and no one else is other is not currently working on this task.

Check For Requirements:

When you decide on which Open Source Projects you want to contribute then check for the requirements of the Open Source project. However, all projects and maintainers are different, and while the rules of the Open Source community are roughly the same, there are exceptions or specials that the project may require. 

These particularities may vary from the models to be used, special code linting rules, communication requirements, style guides, etc.

Fork The Project and Start Working:

You already know what problem you are trying to solve and how to do it thanks to the content of the problem or task and the contribution guidelines. Now it’s time to get to work.

The usual process for contributing to open source is to “fork” the project (shown in the image below). This will create a copy of the project in your account where you can work on the code, test it, and when ready, you can move your changes to the main project through a checkout request form.

how to fork on github

Conclusion

When someone asks me how to contribute to open source projects, it really fascinates me. Maybe that’s why I’ve written so much about it. In this article, I’ve covered the reasons why you should contribute to Open Source projects, the potential of open source, and its impact on the world.

So these were the steps about how to contribute to Open Source projects with your coding skills. I hope you liked this article on how to contribute to the Open Source projects with your coding skills. Feel free to ask your valuable questions in the comments section below.

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Aman Kharwal

I am a programmer from India, and I am here to guide you with Data Science, Machine Learning, Python, and C++ for free. I hope you will learn a lot in your journey towards Coding, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence with me.

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