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September 27th, 2016

Contributing to an Open Source Project

There are many ways to contribute to an open source project. There are also many reasons for doing so. But before jumping in, you might want to know how things generally work within these projects.

The Video Screening Room

If you’re interested gaining some tips and insights into how to contribute to open source, this video of a presentation given on September 19 at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco by Gunnar Wagenknecht, a software engineer at Salesforce, and Wayne Beaton, director at the Eclipse Foundation, might be useful to you.

Some of the things I learned from this video include: frequent and clear communication is vital to participating in open source communities. There are also distinct roles, which include owners, maintainers, collaborators, contributors and community members. And the owner of a project is not necessarily the creator of the project. Lastly, the more you contribute to open source, the broader role you might find for yourself — until one day you might find yourself as a project lead.

For the past 10 years, Phil has been working at a public library in the Washington D.C.-area, helping youth and adults use the 28 public Linux stations the library offers seven days a week. He also writes for MAKE magazine, Opensource.com and TechSoup Libraries. Suggest videos by contacting Phil on Twitter or at pshapiro@his.com.

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