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#1 Midgar77  Icon User is offline

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Open Source Programming for Newbies

Posted 18 May 2014 - 04:35 PM

I was hoping to receive some guidance in the field of open source programming.

I have been programming for two years (mostly in Java) and I really want to start working on an open source project.

I know some of the tips of getting started on a project such as:

-Work on a project that could benefit you/that you already use often or you are familiar with.
-Be prepared to get really frustrated and get your hands really dirty.

These are typical tips that people give but I'm looking for a little bit more guidance than just that.
Some questions I have include:

-Is there a website/place where I can find projects that are specifically for Java programmers (source code is in Java).
-Is there a place where I can find projects that are not as difficult to work on and understand for open source newbies like me?
-Is there a place that guides open source newbies like me? (besides openhatch)
-Is there a place where I could find people that would be interested in mentoring me in open source programming??

Thanks everyone!!

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Replies To: Open Source Programming for Newbies

#2 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Open Source Programming for Newbies

Posted 18 May 2014 - 05:52 PM

I get a sense that you are viewing this all the wrong way. All "open source" means is you have code, you dump it to a publicly available space, and don't ask for monetary returns when used. This differs from a closed project in only that distribution part.. the entire 'making a project' is the same in both cases.

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Is there a website/place where I can find projects that are specifically for Java programmers (source code is in Java).

Probably not.. peruse places like github and see what code they have when you search for 'java'. Better yet - bing the terms 'java and open source' and see what returns. Quite a few open source projects have front end websites to collect information about updates, distribution, etc. See what strikes your fancy.

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Is there a place where I can find projects that are not as difficult to work on and understand for open source newbies like me?

Again - you probably should be dropping the 'open source' adjective here and just ask for 'projects'. As it is no one really knows who you are, your depth of knowledge, interests, etc.. only you do. Take my recommendations about doing some group googling and strike out on what path you think is best.

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Is there a place that guides open source newbies like me? (besides openhatch)

Guide as in how? You find something that interests you, eyeball the bugs or comment section, pull the code down, and poke at it.. if you find a fix then submit a pull request and have some longer term member eyeball if the fix is up to par with the project and they'll decide what to do.

Working with an open project is very much independent study. This isn't like school homework where you have niche problems, you do the work, hold a hand, submit it for grading, and get a gold star for the day. Typically if the folks in deep on the project wanted to walk you through - step by step - on how to solve a problem they would just run the fix themselves. Rugged individualism and all that.


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Is there a place where I could find people that would be interested in mentoring me in open source programming??

Again, another instance of misconception on what this is about. You are asking for folks to mentor you on a project - period. You might find an established community surrounding something big, but, again, this isn't school. Little hand holding if any.

http://www.dreaminco...source-project/
http://www.dreaminco...source-project/
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#3 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Open Source Programming for Newbies

Posted 18 May 2014 - 05:53 PM

I don't know about finding open-source projects by language, but a few minutes on sourceforge got me to this page which might be useful. I don't think that there's a lot of projects that are specifically "easy to work on". People don't make open-source projects in order to provide a training pit for new developers. They're making programs. If you find something that looks interesting, you can look at the issues list and see what sorts of issues are open and whether people seem to be working on it. You can grab the source and see whether it makes sense to you. Maybe you'll see an improvement that you can make.

But I suspect that you're going at this the wrong way around. Instead of finding projects that might be easy for you to work on, you should be looking for projects that you use and thinking about how to make them better. After all, if you're a user of the software, you know what you use it for and how you'd like it to work. If you're not, you just don't, so it's very hard to see how you'd know how to make it work better.

If you use open-source software, no matter what language, go prowl around in the developer areas, read the bug lists, check out the documentation, check out the code. See what you can understand about it. If there's something that doesn't seem right, figure out how you can best address it. That might be by writing a well-crafted bug ticket that clearly states the imperfection, how the imperfection can be reliably reproduced, and what behavior would be preferred. It might be by finding places where the documentation is not very complete and filling in details. Or maybe you find something in a bug ticket and you find a fix for it. If you do, be sure to observe all of the local guidelines about testing and documentation and style and so forth, perhaps email to someone who seems a frequent contributor and introduce yourself, and figure out how to get your fix tested and deployed.
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#4 Midgar77  Icon User is offline

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Re: Open Source Programming for Newbies

Posted 18 May 2014 - 06:12 PM

When I used the term "open source" I didnt mean specific projects, the meant the idea if working on these projects.

So when I was asking about websites and mentors, I wasnt asking for help on specific projects. I was asking about help in just getting comfortable and understanding working on ANY project.

You reply definitely helped though. Thank you so much
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#5 Midgar77  Icon User is offline

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Re: Open Source Programming for Newbies

Posted 18 May 2014 - 08:15 PM

Thank you to both of you for your replies!! I think I have a better understanding of open source programming and I am going to try to find some good projects to work on.

Thank you!
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#6 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Open Source Programming for Newbies

Posted 18 May 2014 - 08:21 PM

Glad I could help.
You might find it interesting to read Eric Raymond's long essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar". Very useful insights on Open Source development there, as I recall.

This post has been edited by jon.kiparsky: 18 May 2014 - 08:22 PM

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