“How I made my first Open Source Contribution, And how you can do the same” – Answered!
From Finding An Issue, To My First PR [ merged 😉 ]
How I went from procrastinating the first step of starting to work on Open Source for 3 years of my college life (I learned a lot of other things – so no regrets 😉 ) to finally getting my first PR (patch) merged.
Trust me, you really do feel the adrenaline! =)
15th June, 2019 – I urge my friend, Shubham, to start contributing on open source, because he has got what it takes. (We all do =D ). I say, go on to Mozilla’s organization account on Github, find a repository – any repository – find a good first issue and just say – “Hey, I would like to work on this, can I take this up?”
(Later did I understand – that’s all it really takes – A simple question – And let me break it to you – Those guys in open source, no matter how busy they are – they really help you by setting you up in the right direction – probably the most beautiful thing about Open Source)
Well, he did that, sitting beside me, and not long after, he got a reply – Yes please Shubham, we would love it if you could do this one for us, do you need any help getting started?
“Just how wonderful is that”, I thought.
And this exact same conversation, I had with Pankaj, my other friend, and well, a very very similar story followed.
But not for me, I had more procrastination left in me, I wasn’t done yet! Well, fast forward one month, Shubham and Pankaj both get their first PR’s merged, and then another as well. And I could feel the excitement in their voices when they talked about their PR’s being merged.
“Must feel quite nice”, I thought. “Do I not want to feel the same?”, the second thought popped.
Yep, that’s when it started. I started with Mozilla, as well. I have heard amazing stuff about them from my friends who contribute there, and I had the examples of Pankaj and Shubham now as well.
So. there it finally began. I started hunting down Mozilla repositories for a good first issue. I had recently learned React, so I thought that would be a good place to start.
That’s when I stumbled across Taskcluster, A Framework that supports Mozilla’s continuous integration and release processes.
I found a good first issue, issue number 957 ( I always remember this number now — Is that love or what?)
And I said,
YAY! I just got assigned my first issue.
Well, that’s where the technical part began.
I had to go through the documentation of how to get Taskcluster up and running locally, and since I am on Windows, that process was very smooth! 😉
Did I just say the process was very smooth?
Well, yeah, that’s a lie, you got me!
So let me break it to you, half the difficulty in getting an Open Source Contribution, especially when it’s a good first issue, and you really are just getting started, is getting the project to start locally.
It is no easy feat — or doesn’t feel easy.
You have to go through the documentation, thoroughly, get all the packages up and running and well – mostly – that’s about it. Obviously, easier said than done… But hey! We have a cheat code!
We are working on Open Source with lots of really experienced people!
You know what the bible says –
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”
Well, that’s exactly what I did. I asked, and the really wonderful and incredibly patient people at Mozilla, helped me, every time.
Tip – Always wait for their response. They are busy and sometimes they can take several days to get back to you, but they surely will get back to you.
They appreciate good questions. They really do. If you are wondering how to ask good questions, this is definitely a good read.
Well, then came the part of writing the code, staying up with my friend Shubham till 2 AM till we could solve the issue together, and then with his help, finally making my first PR!
YAY! I made my first PR!
It got merged the next morning!
And yes, I really did feel the adrenaline! This was my reaction when I received the email from github that said my patch was merged –
Yep, that’s accurately my reaction!
Never the less, it was a start of a long and beautiful journey.
Fast forward 45 days, I can only say – This only keeps getting better.
Now you know how to make your first contribution – Find your first bug – What are you waiting for?
I obviously need to thank my first mentor on Open Source ever – Hassan Ali – Thank you for all that you helped me (and still are helping me) learn! It’s always a pleasure to learn from you!
Written with love,