Contributing to a developerWorks Open project
How do I contribute?
So, you’ve found an interesting project and want to contribute, but you’ve got a lot of questions: How do I get started? Is there a process I need to follow to give back? Is there a license that I need to sign before I make my contributions? If I use this code, is there a forum where I can get support? Is there a wiki that will help me set up my environment to make those changes?
You have the questions, and we have the answers. Let’s dive in and guide you though the process for making a contribution to a project. You’ll be an open source expert in no time.
How do I get started?
Well, you’ve already started — you’ve explored developerWorks Open and have found a project that you want to delve into further.
The first thing you should do is learn how to get started with GitHub. Learn how to create a Github account if you don’t already have one. Next, you’ll need to set up Git on your machine. Fortunately, GitHub has a really useful “bootcamp” that has a whole section on setting up Git for your machine. Once you’ve completed the set-up, you can begin to do more advanced tasks like cloning a project to your local machine so that you can start to dig in to the code, make changes, and contribute to the community.
Can I easily give back to the project?
The answer to that question is “yes … with some prep work.” After you’ve spent time digging into the code, extending functionality, and making improvements, it’s natural to want to contribute your work back to the project. To do that, you need to make a pull request, a way of telling others about suggested improvements or fixes for their code.
Note: Before you submit your pull request, please check for a Contributing.md file in the project’s repository on Github. Some projects may require that you sign a Contributor’s License Agreement (CLA) before submitting your changes.
For other projects that don’t require a signed CLA, we ask that you include a line similar to the following as part of your pull request comments: “DCO 1.1 Signed-off-by: Random J Developer“. “DCO” stands for “Developer Certificate of Origin,” and refers to the same text used in the Linux Kernel community. By adding this simple comment, you tell the community that you wrote the code you are contributing, or you have the right to pass on the code that you are contributing.
Where can I find help if I need it?
Each project on developerWorks Open includes a set of helpful links on the project page, including links to the project’s Stack Overflow and developerWorks Answers Q&As. Additional links point to collaboration communities, forums, wikis — everywhere that developers are sharing information about their favorite open source projects. So don’t be shy — use these communities to tap into the collective knowledge of project experts, open source contributors, and programming enthusiasts.