In May I presented to students and staff from the University of Auckland as part of the Electrical and Computer Engineering seminar series. What was I talking about? Getting involved in open source software - why would you want to? how to get started? and what to expect once you're there.
As usual, the slides would be a lot more helpful with some words to go along with it :) Basically I talked about my experiences with a number of open source projects, and particularly my work with the Dojo Toolkit.
Google's Summer of Code and Highly Open Participation programmes have been a fantastic source of new contributors to open source, and at Dojo we've been lucky to be involved for the last three years with Summer of Code. GHOP last year showed what a huge range of relatively easy things can be done to make an open source project better and just how many ways there are to get involved.
A few of us have been gently pushing for ECE to get software students to work on open source for their final-year undergraduate projects where it makes sense. This year there are two students adding new features to the Player/Stage robotics project, and it was interesting to talk to them after the seminar and find out how they'd been getting along and what issues they'd run into.
Key things out of all this:
- projects want new contributors
- the best way to get started is to do something
- there are a pile of ways to get involved, of which coding is only one
- what you get out is proportional to what you put in
- anyone can do it, especially you :)