Together We Can Do So Much: How Developers Benefit from the Open Source Model

Each day millions of developers contribute their time, abilities, and billions of lines of code to enhance countless open-source projects. On Github alone over 31 million developers contribute to the growth of over 96 million repositories.

Amazingly, one third of all those repositories were created in the last year alone. Why are more developers than ever before contributing to open-source projects?

The open-source model has flourished in recent years and this helps. Initially, the most ambitious projects were those spearheaded by the Linux Foundation but more recently a range of gigantic tech companies have started to leverage this collective power to grow their projects.

It makes sense: the tech companies are able to have the smartest people from around the world help the growth of their project, and this means that the end user benefits.

But how do developers benefit?

If you’re on the fence about contributing to an open-source project we hope this post helps you to take the plunge..

Let’s dig deeper into how the open-source approach to development presents opportunities and benefits for developers.


Being a Part of Something Bigger

Who helped you to take your first steps in the world of development? YouTube tutorials, free coding schools, friendly advice… There were probably thousands of developers who shaped your early experiences. Many of them received no financial reward, but helped out of a genuine desire to share their knowledge.

Collaboration & meaningful contribution is built into the foundation of development and experiencing that firsthand can be an exhilarating and memorable moment.

Matthew Garrett is a Core OS developer and he wrote an intriguing post back in 2014 after winning the Free Software Foundation Award for the Advancement of Free Software. An advocate of open-source ideology, he wrote:

“To me, free software means I’ve lived a significantly better life than would otherwise have been the case. But more than that, it means doing what I can to make sure that other people have the same opportunities. I am here because of the work of others. The most rewarding part of my continued involvement is the knowledge that I am part of a countless number of people working to make sure that others can tell the same story in future.

This nicely captures the open-source ethos.


Developing New Abilities

Most developers are united by a desire & innate characteristic to develop and invent, so the opportunity to contribute to open-source projects & learn from the best is incredibly valuable. Those developers can hone their skills, get real-time feedback from the community, and help to improve projects.

Contributing to open-source projects is a key development technique, and one that many in the development world advocate. Take this Medium post from Luciano Strika: How contributing to open source made me a better developer. Luciano advises:

“Go find a project you actually like or care about and add some lines to it! It doesn’t matter if your changes are small, as long as you’re helping and learning through them. My first contribution was correcting a typo in a README.”

Some developers enhance their skills and build upon their contributions to eventually make larger contribution to the open-source community. Let’s look at an example from the millions that are made each day.

Firebase JavaScript SDK is used to implement client-side libraries which are used by applications which use Firebase services. Josep Sayol is a open-source contributor who developed FireSQL to enhance the SDK. This library allows developers to query Cloud Firestore using SQL syntax. Using the smallest number of queries possible, the tool gets the data that developers request.

It’s a perfect example of how specialist knowledge can be applied to make augmentations to an existing project. Speaking about what motivated him, Josep says:

“A lot of developers come from a MySQL background, and moving to a such a different database model like Firestore or other NoSQL systems can feel a bit daunting at first. I figured I could help make that transition easier for them by offering a way to access the data that feels more familiar.”


Finding the Right Job

A healthy GitHub profile is a strong indicator of a dedicated and active developer. Many companies on the hunt for the hottest development talent will peruse the profiles of candidates to get an idea of their activity, the types of projects they enjoy, and the languages they can use.

Essentially, contributing to open-source projects allows developers to showcase their abilities in a public place, boosting their value on the job market. Not only can developers help their fellow colleagues through their contributions, they can create & showcase a project that would otherwise be impossible without collaboration.

Together, developers are more than the sum of their parts and they produce some staggering technologies. Just some exciting open-source projects include TensorFlow, Kubernetes, and Polymer. Each of these projects would never exist without the millions of contributions which compose them.

These technologies are applied to have tangible impacts on the lives of end users. In many ways, the open-source philosophy is improving the world around us for lots of people.

We hope that this insight into the benefits of open-source development have inspired you to make your first pull request and build your Code Pilot portfolio.

Learn more about how you can create your own Code Pilot portfolio.