At the moment, an exotic buzz gravitates around the term Open Source. Social coding has strikingly come across as the latest fashion, for it opens up a parallel world of technology, keeps the creative juices flowing and furnishes a sense of belongingness to a community. Turning over to statistics, as much as budding techies would like to hop onto the bandwagon of open development, fear of how, when and where to jump on betides to be one of the gargantuan barricade in their participation. To ease out the modus operandi of taking long strides in this alluring world, let us briskly glance at the different tracks we could take our baby-steps in to get engaged for a fun, learning experience.

Code. Classic hit. Tried and tested formula. Fish around for a community that stirs up your spirit of curiosity. Find a project built on the framework of your interest, using tools and technologies you aspire to polish. Get comfortable with its composition, rummage through the source code. Implement features in the pipeline and swat bugs !

But, open source is more than just code ๐Ÿ˜‰

Report & Test. Newly committed to using an open source project or been here for a long time. This one is for all the denizens. Difficulty while setting up an open source project, or using a feature ? Compatibility issues ? Report it ! Hang around in there. See a new patch for a feature or a bug fix pushed in ? Test it ! Feedback is always highly appreciated in this sphere of peer reviewed development.

Document. This way can never go wrong for documentation forms the pivotal part in bringing new developers and users on-board. Proof-read, check for technical errors โ€” more than pointing mistakes, correct them. Lend a helping hand in setting up new formats for logging progress, and latest features of the project. Jot installation and usage instructions, build tutorials and learn along the way.

Design. Have a creative streak ? Help refine the look & feel of your loved open source project. Build your portfolio for the world to see. Display your skills by curating new icons, interesting themes, layouts, colour schemes and contribute in a better user interface. Go, don your designer hat !

Localise. Adept in a different language ? Build a larger community and engage people by translating your favourite open source project in your own language. With variety of open products yet to reach people no proficiency in the default language, localise them and get involved with the customisation.

Donate. Say thank you to all who have been putting in their best to make this world a better place. Admire an open source project ? Support it financially to ensure its continuation and as an expression of gratitude. Donate in cash or kind. Purchase tickets to trainings, subscriptions. These not only fund the projects but also dispense a huge amount of personalised content. Assist by paying off external costs, help in hosting, share developer spaces. Motivate others to contribute to open source, and get motivated in return.

With all these points in mind, I hope that you are able to kick-start your open source journey quick and confidently ! Good Luck ๐Ÿ™‚

PS: I am also keynoting on this theme at Open Source 101 this year, so if possible do make it at the conference, hear me speak in detailย  and ask questions in person.ย