Monday, October 15, 2007

Open Source Project - Walk The Walk

While at the No Fluff Just Stuff Conference, Justin Gehtland had an excellent talk on JRuby and Open Source. He went though some of the really cool features of JRuby and for someone like me know has been doing Java for 10+ years and would like to leverage some of the libraries I know in Java from Ruby, JRuby is very exciting.

What I also found excellent about Justin's talk was that he went though how one contributes to an open source project. From checking out the code from SVN, to using a bug tracking tool, to submitting a patch. He used the JRuby project as an example, but really the process is the same with others. He also at the end encouraged people to put aside say, 4 hours a week to work on an Open source project. At his company, Friday afternoons from 12-4 are considered "open source time" where everyone in the company spends their time working on open source.

What a great idea! I use open source software everyday, from Open Office, to Firefox, to Ruby on Rails to countless number of libraries in my projects. Why not create this rule in my company? Why not create something similar in your company? I've already found a project that I'm going to download and look at working on. I challenge you to do the same. Find a project that you find interesting and contact the owner and see how you can help. It doesn't have to be code. Documentation, testing and even at times, donations of money can go a long way to improving a project. Sourceforge and Codehaus are two places that host some great open source projects. Have fun!

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