Giving.Code is a new project that has the aim of getting programmers, designers and system administrators to collaborate on new software for the good of humanity. They list a bunch of projects that people can work on that will benefit everyone in our society, such as a Lion Tracking project in Kenya which promotes environmental kindness. Inventory management for relief supplies is another project and while it’s amazing that we can all band together and get the logistics going for a relief effort, there’s software and infrastructure behind that effort that supports it.
If you want to get active in free/open source software, you might want to take a look at OpenHatch. While they don’t have the same objective as Giving.Code, they’re another place to start in terms of collaboration. They list projects and issues that they need help with. They have a nice list of events to attend as well.
Opera is the company that makes the Opera web browser which has been competing against Internet Explorer and Firefox since forever. Their mobile browser is very popular. Not only that, but they also release some of their code as free/open source software! Their page on github lists 50+ code repositories, with development happening daily.
I’m not finished writing it yet, but the “For Developers” page will be featuring ways to contribute to free/open source software and one of those ways is to start a code repository on GitHub, BitBucket or Gitorious.
Instructions on how to start a code repository:
BlackBerry has recently come out with their Z10 phone and BB10 operating system. While the operating system is proprietary (based on QNX), BlackBerry doesn’t hesitate to contribute some code under free/open source licenses. They have a github site that lists over 70 public repositories.
500px is a popular photo sharing site that enables photographers sell prints of their work. They use Ruby on Rails, a free/open source web framework to build their platform. While they aren’t wholly committed to contributing to free/open source software (their Github profile page only shows code that makes working with 500px’s API easier), they do use free/open source software and they also develop a solid relationship with developers. On November 17, 2012, 500px hosted Pixel Hack 2012, a hackathon where the focus was on creating things that used open rich media APIs. It was a success and generated a positive image with developers.
They recently released more source code, for a plugin that integrates with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It already has 18 developers following the project.
500px understands that free/open source software plays a huge role in why a software engineer will apply for a job. Hosting hackathons and internal hackdays (similar to Google’s 20% where employees work on whatever interests them) and preferring to use free/open source software gives potential new hires the opportunity to see what the work environment is like. This gives 500px an edge over their competitors when hiring outstanding software engineers.
It is sometimes easy to forget that documentation plays a large part in learning how to program. For beginners and for advanced programmers looking to learn new things, it is highly important to have correct documentation, easy to follow tutorials, and guides on how to do a particular task.
On StackOverflow there is a list of freely available programming books. Looking at the list, around 90% of the books cover free/open source software or can be taught using free/open source software (such as data structures, algorithms, etc.). This is amazing! All the proprietary software packages have far fewer materials available. Visual Basic books for example are outnumbered by Python books.
There is a website called FLOSS Manuals that publishes manuals for free/open source software. One of their most popular books is Introduction to the Command-Line. They have a section on writing and remixing (re-using material from existing manuals).
The writing tools are similar to WordPress and Drupal and other blogging software. You create book sections, add sub-sections/posts to each section and then you’re set to publish.
The remixing tool lets you re-arrange sections of existing manuals to create a new manual. I created a short reference guide for myself that included sections of Introduction to the Command Line, giving me information on how to use common tools that I use every day at work.
There’s more than software that needs to be written and more than conferences and hackathons to sponsor. There’s also documentation that needs to be written to ensure that the software is properly, and widely, used.
For both organizations and developers, a well-written manual will increase your reputation a lot. If it’s a popularly referenced manual or article, your blog or site will gain more traffic, and other organizations and developers will see how skilled you are.
The Linux Foundation has a video up of a presentation given by Chris Aniszczyk, Open Source Manager at Twitter: http://video.linux.com/videos/open-source-at-twitter
Last year, [Twitter] established an Open Source Office (@TwitterOSS) dedicated to supporting open communities important to us and to maintain a healthy, reciprocal relationship. We’ll talk about some of the challenges in establishing an open source culture and also go over some of the open source technology behind a Tweet.
The experience of Twitter can be used as a guideline for your own organization’s experience with establishing a free/open source culture.
The key thing to remember when watching this video is that some of the same principles apply to organizations of any size. You don’t have to be a startup or have a startup culture like Twitter in order to establish this principles.
Github, popular host for git repositorys of free/open source software (FOSS) projects, offers plans for educational purposes. They already host repositories for free for FOSS projects. They also fully embrace the open source development model and frequently contribute code. This is an example of a non-code contribution.
LinkedIn, the social network for professional, hosted a hackathon in Toronto on 1-2 February 2013. There were some t-shirts given out, it was catered and it looks like there were some great looking hacks created some involving hardware, others involving the LinkedIn API and location awareness/GPS. Click here to see a twitter posts related to the hackathon.
Four members have joined The Linux Foundation:
- Axis Communications
- O.S. Systems