Open Source Project: How to be a good partner with an open source software project.

A big challenge to the success of an Open Source Software project is creating and maintaining a strong community. It is vital to have strong and dedicated partnerships and have symbiotic relationships to ensure mutual success. So what exactly are good partners and how do you can we become one?

Good partners solve problems instead of asking for solutions. An important aspect to participating in an open source project is recognizing that it is a partnership and not a customer/vendor relationship. This means that you take initiative in overcoming any challenges you come up against by utilizing all of the resources that the open source community provides before engaging the developers directly. At Orange Leap this means becoming familiar with our Knowledge Base, forums, and partnerships first, and hopefully finding solutions on your own. Often, community members have come up against the same challenges that you are facing and will help to resolve the issue. In the short term this is an adjustment for many newcomers, but in the long run it is empowering to be able to successfully navigate your way through problem solving. This brings us to the next point. Contributing to the community.

Sharing and making contributions to the community. In the event that you have successfully solved a problem, it is important that you contribute your information to the rest of the community. This is vital for the long term success of the community and in turn, the overall success of the Open Source initiative. Firefox is a great example of a successful community that has provided an incredible level of success in software design and implementation because of the community participation. Helping others to be successful is the key to open source success. Here is an example of how Orange Leap contributed to Spring.

Engage other members of the community, and community resources to help and encourage others to solve problems. A good way to gauge whether you are a strong community member is to look at how much you have contributed to the community. Do you log into the forums and look for problems to solve or do you only log in with problems that you need solved? This type of proactive participation is vital for the long term growth and success of a project. Here is an example of how Orange Leap contributed to Jasper.

Sharing information with the community by providing solutions, customizations, and contributions to help others overcome their challenges and obstacles. This is a key ingredient. At Orange Leap, we share our source code and software for our mutual success. We try and provide resources so that non profits are no longer held hostage to software licensing fees and minimal customizations. We are interested in being a good partner and in turn we ask the same from our partners. If you come up with a great customization it is vital that you provide your solution to the community so that all can benefit. In this free and open model, it is important to contribute to the overall success of everyone.

A good partner recognizes and honors the partnership and strives to make contributions to the community to ensure mutual success. It is a core value of Open Source Projects to give back to the community, which is also a core value to the non profit world we all choose to be a part of.

Explore posts in the same categories: Musings on Software and Life, Open Source, Programming

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