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Five things I learned from my first Open Source contribution

williycole profile image William Cole Boren ・3 min read

And why you should contribute

1) Read Documents Slowly

This one is important in all aspects of development, especially when learning new skills or technologies. Take the time to comprehend what it is you are trying to do, and plan accordingly. Depending on how a doc is worded you can even easily overlook a step within a step separated by a comma. Also, don’t be afraid to read the whole doc or relevant section of the doc at least once or twice, maybe even three times before you get going. This step can save you time and frustration down the road.

2) Don’t stress and Slow Down

This sometimes can be easier said than done but really if you slow down and follow the previous advice you’ll be in a better position when you encounter roadblocks in your path. If you're like me and completely new to open source, still learning to code, and diving in headfirst, you CAN NOT stress. You will get there, learning to code takes time. When you are new even the simplest processes that eventually become routine such as just committing your files to a new branch can be frustrating at first, especially if you don’t have your SSH keys set up and are working away from your normal machine, or don’t even know what that is.

3) Don't edit to much

Make sure you only edit the code you mean to. You can sometimes accidentally select more than you meant to or if your editor is like mine you likely have some neat workflow set up like eslint or prettier. These kinds of tools are fun and fine to use in your workflow, but you are most likely used to hitting ctrl+s and just letting the editor do the work for you. Just make sure they don’t over edit your code because not
everyone uses these tools or has their indentations set the same as you do.

4) Don't be afraid to ask for help

This one speaks for itself. Many developers love to help you figure things out especially if you are working on open sourcethat is noob-friendly. It is there to help you learn and grow as a developer, and the developers who maintain the code want to teach you anything they can. I know asking for help can sometimes be intimidating. Just do it, it won't be scary the next time you ask, and you will learn from it.

5) Contribute to open source

Seriously go for it. Take any opportunity you can take that has a small issue you can solve and go for it. If you get stuck ask for help, remember the devs in charge of the project likely would love to help you! It’s going to make you nervous a bit, but ignore your fear and just go for it! Take the advice I have given you here and you will be well on your way to contributing to your first bit of open-source yourself. If you don't know where to get started with open source check out code connector.
https://codeconnector.io/

Code Connector is a fantastic place to learn from other devs. The slack channel and meetups have been crucial in my learning process. Code Connector also lead me in my first steps with open source!

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William Cole Boren

@williycole

Former auger slinger and map maker. Geologist trying to find my way into WebDev.

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