Getting involved with a FOSS project

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mountaingoat
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Getting involved with a FOSS project

Postby mountaingoat » Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:01 pm UTC

I'm currently a freshman Computer Science and Engineering student who is looking to help out some open source project. I know Java sufficiently well (~1.5 years of experience), but that's really it. I can understand some C/C++ because it's so similar to Java. I'd also be willing to learn some more C/C++, because I'll have to know it eventually. I'd also like to learn Python soon.

I hear time and time again that projects really need documentation. I'm just wondering how I could actually do that. I wish there was some sort of site to help people like me out, because I feel like there's a lot of potential from people like me. Any insight?

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Xanthir
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Re: Getting involved with a FOSS project

Postby Xanthir » Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:12 pm UTC

sean22190 wrote:I'm currently a freshman Computer Science and Engineering student who is looking to help out some open source project. I know Java sufficiently well (~1.5 years of experience), but that's really it. I can understand some C/C++ because it's so similar to Java. I'd also be willing to learn some more C/C++, because I'll have to know it eventually. I'd also like to learn Python soon.

I hear time and time again that projects really need documentation. I'm just wondering how I could actually do that. I wish there was some sort of site to help people like me out, because I feel like there's a lot of potential from people like me. Any insight?

You can go toss your hat in with Firefox. I wish I had time to contribute to them.
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ash.gti
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Re: Getting involved with a FOSS project

Postby ash.gti » Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:35 pm UTC

I'd pick up and use a language you'll be happy with then find a useful project that uses the language you like.

I regularly contribute to Open Source projects in the ruby community, specifically DataMapper and Merb are two that I have committed too.

Really, the way I got into doing it was using those projects (at the time they were both pre-1.0 releases) and identifying bugs and usability issues. Then I started submitting bug tickets, which eventually lead to me just patching the issue then submitting a patch, when I can solve the problem, with the bug ticket.

I know in the ruby community its really easy to get involved and contribute. They have a number of tools setup for this (See Github and Lighthouse App, both were started to help ease development woes of ruby projects, although they aren't strictly ruby).

DataMapper and Merb also both have public wiki's setup on their websites to contribute to their tutorials/documentation/etc. And I have contributed at least a few lines here or there (mostly giving more details on the wiki and correcting grammar issues) for both of them.

You can look at http://www.ohloh.net to find some Open Source projects you might be interested in contributing too.
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OOPMan
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Re: Getting involved with a FOSS project

Postby OOPMan » Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:46 am UTC

So far I've only contributed bug reports to NetBeans, but at some point I might contribute patches (Ha, yeah right, who am I kidding ;-) )...

As ash_gti said, bug reporting is a good place to start. It gets your familiar with the project you want to contribute to. From there, digging into the project to try and patch bugs yourself is the logical next step...

With regards to documentation, I guess there are various areas. One could contribute to a project wiki. There's also the option to document the code itself. Many projects lack proper API references and the simplest way to generate these is via document assist tools like Javadoc, Doxygen, PHPDocumentor, etc, etc. Furthermore, documenting the code cain be of benefit to future coders, as many IDEs and text editors make use of documented code in order to provide code assists...
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Emu*
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Re: Getting involved with a FOSS project

Postby Emu* » Sun Jan 11, 2009 7:05 pm UTC

I'd go for the documentation angle too...

You will need all the time you can get later on for coursework, and if you start contributing patches or coding new features, you may get in deep enough to harm the project when you back out again!

Some good Javadoc will help other people who get involved with the project, and will be good practice for your own projects.
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Area Man
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Re: Getting involved with a FOSS project

Postby Area Man » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:49 am UTC

Have you tried the Help Wanted section on SourceForge?
Any project short on people should gladly accommodate you.
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sakeniwefu
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Re: Getting involved with a FOSS project

Postby sakeniwefu » Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:39 pm UTC

If you contribute to a smaller project there will be more things to fix, and more recognition to be had.
If you contribute to something large, it will be difficult to get your code in and even when it is in it will be more likely to get replaced at some point. On the other hand, "My code is in the Linux kernel" makes for a better resume than "I am the main contributor to Microsoft's DONKEY.BAS remake GNDonkey v0.09".

mountaingoat
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Re: Getting involved with a FOSS project

Postby mountaingoat » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:38 pm UTC

Area Man wrote:Have you tried the Help Wanted section on SourceForge?
Any project short on people should gladly accommodate you.

Oh thanks, just what I was looking for.

Thanks everyone! (more opinions always welcomed)


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