Open Source Software: X Ways Students Can Contribute to the Community
All programmers know what open source software is. In case you are only starting to dive into this field, here is an explanation. Open source is software that gives users permission to study, modify, and distribute the software source code. In other words, you can actually see into the initial code of the product and contribute to it if you want as a part of the community.
Basically, this is a community-driven model where students and other people can collaborate on projects and share their work with the broader community. Open source software has made technology accessible to everyone across the world! Also, it has played a critical role in advancing technology in the last decade. They say that only together we can achieve greatness!
Apart from this, this is also an excellent opportunity for students to gain experience in software development even before they get their diplomas. Learners can make meaningful contributions to the community without ever leaving their room! Hire the best term paper service for your homework assignments. This way, you will get more time to code instead of writing papers!
So, are you interested in learning more about this side of programming? Here are 6 ways students can contribute to open source software projects and to the online community in general.
Bug reporting and fixing
This might be one of the most obvious things that you can do when you have access to the core of the software. Everybody hates finding bugs on their websites and applications. So why don’t you do something about that and report them? Reporting bugs helps developers identify and fix issues in their projects, which means that you will have a better user experience.
Even when you are just starting your journey in quality assurance, looking for possible bugs is a great way to learn how to read and understand code, and to gain experience in programming.
Here is what you can do in this case:
- create an issue on the GitHub repository;
- report the issue to the project’s mailing list;
- submit a pull request with the fix.
Good and understandable documentation is very important for any project. Without it, any application or a website would be a complete mess. Students can contribute to the online community by creating and updating documentation for the project. With the help of these documents, users and developers can save a lot of time when setting up the app for the first time.
Here is what is included in the documentation:
- user guides;
- installation guides;
- developer documentation.
Localization is the process of translating any text to meet the language and cultural requirements of a particular region or country. This is not a simple translation because you need to also consider the specifics of the region and adapt the text. By translating the software or any other parts of the text, you can make it accessible to other users!
Sure, lots of projects already have a team of designers who work tirelessly on delivering the best results. On the other hand, sometimes an outside opinion about UX can significantly improve the project! For example, all the best essay writing services ask their clients to provide feedback. You can do the same with open source software! This will be a huge contribution to UX overall!
Those learners who have some experience in graphic design, user experience design, or web design can help the online community and suggest their options for project improvement. In case you have a particular project on your mind that could use some improvements, here are the steps for implementing your suggestions:
- get familiar with the product;
- get involved in the community, like mailing lists, forums, or chats;
- clearly state the areas for improvement;
- submit your proposal;
- take a look at the feedback and adjust your proposal if needed;
- submit your design to the repository.
When you feel like you have enough knowledge and experience in programming, you can try to add pieces of code to the product by yourself. Of course, not all applications allow you to make changes right away, and you need to go through the same procedure as with submitting the proposal for your design changes. Still, this can be a great experience for learners!
From the point of view of code contributions, you can make suggestions about new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements. Some companies also allow outside users to work on improving the project’s test suite or creating new tests altogether to enhance the quality of the final product as a result.
This is the best and the most crucial part of any open source software project. They usually thrive on community engagement, and you can become a part of one too! You don’t even have to be the most proficient in quality assurance, design, or programming to become a part of this group. For example, learners can help build and grow the community around the project in such ways:
- answering questions on the forums and mailing lists;
- participating in discussions on social media;
- helping in organizing various events, like code sprints or hackathons.
By taking part in these activities, you can have an opportunity to network with other developers and gain invaluable experience that you won’t get anywhere else! And the best part of this experience is the fact that you don’t even have to leave your dorm room. Learners can feel like they belong and become a part of something bigger with the help of their laptops.
To Sum Up
So there you have it, 6 ways students can contribute to open source software projects and to the online community in general! You don’t need to be extremely proficient in programming or quality assurance. In fact, with support from other people, you can find your own interests and take it from there! You can start with online forums and projects and see what you like the most.