Open-Source Programming and How to Contribute to Projects

Open-Source Programming and How to Contribute to Projects

Open-source programming and software refer to a type of code accessible to the public, meaning that programmers can find, modify, and distribute the source code as necessary. This software is essential for many industries and programmers seeking a decentralized model to solve critical problems within an organization.

Beyond its accessibility, there are numerous benefits to using open-source software. This article will cover essential information as you navigate the open-source world and examples of how learning a range of programming skills can benefit your career.

The Benefits of Open-Source Software

Using open-source software is advantageous in many ways. If you’re looking for an entryway into the open-source community, consider some of the benefits of open-source software that may help you grow in your career.

  • Open-source software offers flexibility not possible with proprietary software.
  • This software is highly cost-effective. Beyond being free to modify, an open-source program can incur fewer maintenance costs or license fees down the line than other software.
  • Open-source software does not require a contractual agreement, meaning programmers don’t have to stay loyal to a vendor that provides ineffective software solutions.
  • Open-source software has a dedicated community of programmers that can provide feedback and guidance as you hone your coding skills.
  • An open-source platform is typically more accessible and faster to launch than programs that require a vendor contract, making it ideal for many enterprises and coders looking to get their programs up and running fast.

Why are Open-Source Projects Important for Aspiring Software Engineers?

Open-source projects for beginners exploring software engineering are vital for various reasons. Perhaps the most notable advantage of open-source software for aspiring software engineers is the community this software provides, allowing individuals to communicate and collaborate with experienced software engineers and learn valuable information they wouldn’t find from proprietary software.

Ultimately, open-source projects are the best way for aspiring engineers to start learning the basics of programming. The vibrant community element of open-source solutions, however, is the tip of the iceberg regarding the importance of open-source. Aspiring software engineers require open-source projects to contribute to and grow in their craft in some of the following crucial ways:

  • Open-source software gives beginners ample time to familiarize themselves with the coding process and allows for advanced customization, allowing software engineers to explore their skills.
  • Open-source projects promote creativity and innovation, essential to a thriving software engineering career.
  • Aspiring software engineers can have constant access to expert advice on bugs and coding issues to address problems promptly and gain new knowledge for future projects. The hands-on nature of open-source projects means that beginners may have far more opportunities to grow and advance in their careers.

Examples of open source projects could include simple bug fixes to existing codebases all the way to creating your own full-fledged open-source project. There are several open source platforms that have been designed to enable aspiring software developers to get their feet wet writing code for open source projects.

What to Know Before You Contribute

Though there are numerous advantages to open-source software projects and initiatives, beginners require a well-rounded understanding before contributing to an open-source program.

While you’ll find many open-source software examples from experienced software engineers, these examples might not provide the knowledge you need as you navigate this new landscape.

Before contributing to an open-source product, keep the following in mind:

  • Working on an open-source project doesn’t mean you have to contribute code before you’re ready—various components go into a successful project that you can contribute to.
  • Open-source isn’t limited to software contributions. As open source code bases expand and continue to receive development support from the community, new features and changes are made which need to be tracked, recorded and explained in the documentation. By contributing to the documentation in the form of tutorials, user guides, and FAQs, you can support the open-source community and learn more about how these projects are built.  
  • Any open-source project has five central roles: the author, owner, maintainers, contributors, and the community. The author creates the project and writes the original code and releases it under an open source license. The owner of an open source project has control over the project. The maintainers and contributors keep the open-source project up-to-date and deal with bug-fixing. Finally, the community contributes to the project in a wide variety of ways including writing code, adding documentation, and promoting the project to others.
  • Open-source projects don’t operate in the same way every time. While some projects allow you to contribute however you’d like, others may require you to work up the hierarchy until you can offer significant contributions.
  • There are differences between coding and programming and different requirements for each practice.

Are There Open-Source Projects for Beginners?

Some open-source projects are more suitable for beginners than others, making it important to choose wisely and know your capabilities. These projects are typically small, simple, and well-documented, making them perfect for beginners testing the waters. As you dive into the world of open-source software, consider some of the beginner-friendly projects as a starting point listed below.

  1. First Contributions: The name says it all. This project allows beginners to make their first contribution to an open-source project on a smaller scale.
  2. TensorFlow Models: These projects are suitable for beginners looking into Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning and provide essential practice for aspiring software engineers.
  3. Mozilla Projects: While many Mozilla open-source projects are intended for more advanced engineers, the platform has a vast range of projects for beginners to learn and join a community of aspiring software engineers.
  4. Up For Grabs: If you’re looking for a source filled with recommendations for open-source projects geared towards beginners, Up For Grabs is an essential resource.

Open-Source Programming Languages

One of the primary factors to be aware of as you delve into software engineering is popular open-source programming languages. Without a knowledge of widely-used programming languages, starting as a software developer will be a significant challenge.

Among the most widely-used programming languages to practice for beginners include the following:

  • Python 
  • C++
  • JavaScript
  • Go/Golang
  • Java

Python is the core focus of Hackbright’s software engineering courses, and for a good reason: the language is beginner-friendly and widely used, making it an essential resource for aspiring software engineers. Python is highly versatile and used by numerous companies, including Google and Yelp.


The Benefits of a Coding Bootcamp

Learning the ins and outs of open-source programming languages and having access to a course where you can develop your software skills is vital for engineering beginners. Coding bootcamps like Hackbright Academy’s courses are vital for software engineers that want to learn about coding in Python and equip themselves with the necessary tools and resources to grow in their careers.

Hackbright’s coding bootcamp provides critical knowledge for core programming, data structures and APIs, and various web technologies to ensure you have what you need to develop advanced and practical skills. Our software engineering course goes beyond essential learning to provide the following critical benefits:

  • The ability to make valuable connections with a community of software engineers that includes staff, graduates, and industry allies
  • Access to high-quality advice as you learn the skills to contribute confidently to open-source programming
  • Guidance for changing careers seamlessly and successfully

Pursue a Career You Love With Hackbright Academy

Learning about open-source programming and pursuing the career of your dreams is possible with the intensive bootcamp learning environment at Hackbright Academy. Our courses welcome people from all walks of life and backgrounds passionate about software engineering and ready to find a high-quality entryway into this career.

The range of programming skills you can learn from Hackbright Academy is vital to start doing what you love for a living. Pursuing a career in tech goes beyond the paycheck: it’s gratifying, satisfying, and meaningful to anyone passionate about the ever-expanding technological world. Check out our extensive courses today to start contributing to open-source projects.

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