Contributing to open-source projects

I really do recommend contributing to open-source projects as a way to hone your professional skills. Whether you harbour ambitions to change careers, learn something new or find like-minded individuals, there is a project out there for you.

The global nature of open source will hone your skills in working in distributed, asynchronous development teams that often span multiple spoken languages and cultures.

The diversity of views and opinions will mean you will get very good at advocating why you decided to do something in a certain way, be it writing up an issue, making a technical change, or rejecting a PR.

The sheer breadth of the user base of popular open-source projects (eg. Apache, MySQL, log4net etc) will give you exposure to the specific challenges of making changes to widely used, stable, business-critical applications and libraries.

Today, I will be honing my skills on spectre.console, continuing to implement a fairly significant design change to the help provider subsystem. I chose to work on this challenge as it spans my analysis, development, testing and documentation skills, keeping my professional knowledge up to date and relevant.

I will continue working closely with the overall maintainer; asking for help, explaining what Iโ€™m doing, accepting feedback and frequently deferring to their best judgement. None of this is 100% smooth sailing and I relish the chance to practice navigating differences of opinion with someone I trust.

20 years into my professional software career, I once again get to become a beginner, humbled and open to learning. Itโ€™s not always easy, but thatโ€™s why I love open source.

Frank Ray Consulting. Software requirements for agile development teams, particularly distributed, remote and offshore development teams working in financial services.

Get in touch if you need our help