Contributing to Open Source

Contributing to Open Source feels like it’s something you’re not good enough to do. And even though I’m very new to the concept, I firmly believe that you can do it.

What does contributing mean? Almost anything:

  • Fixing a typo in some comments of someone else’s code
  • Translation of help pages into another language
  • Adding some very basic functionality to a codebase
  • Updating some documentation that’s out of date or unclear
  • Making something new that people may use and sharing it with the world
  • Finding and fixing a bug in someone else’s work

Note: I listed the bug-related item last, because while that might be the top of your list for contributions in terms of feeling “important,” that might be the hardest item to accomplish– which is basically setting yourself up for failure.

My small steps into this arena followed this path:

  1. I have started getting into TypeScript and React development quite a bit lately
  2. Webpack is a common tool to use, but the configuration is typically painful
  3. I have a set of configurations I like to start with, maybe others would like it too

So I started a repository on GitHub and just started coding some generic and helpful scripts to get a project started.

And what made it an Open Source project? I went to GitHub’s Licensing a Repository Help Article and started following the instructions, opting for an MIT license because it seemed easy to implement and fairly open for usage.

There might be a lot of options already out there, or much more complex tools than what I’ve created, but there may still be someone out there that could use it. It may be that I’m the only person who ever uses it, or it might be that some people start to integrate it into their future projects.

Either way, I’m hopeful that someone will use it, and I’m also hopeful that if you find something difficult inside, that you might be able to create a pull request against it to help improve the instructions or functionality.

Update: While showing this article to my friend Mielikki, she pointed out some horrible spelling in my writing and provided some feedback to help with improvement. This is also a way to contribute, it can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be!