The world of open-source is stronger than ever. As the world gets more connected, more people are interested in being a part of building amazing new technologies. However, there are many more advantages to open-source software than just that.
Specifically, there is probably no better way to learn and grow as a developer than to contribute to open-source projects. But, it’s hard to choose from so many different options!
That’s why we’ve listed the 15 best open source projects to contribute to in 2023. Let’s dive in!
Python open-source projects
As a general-purpose programming language, Python encourages developers to use functional, reflective, and object-oriented programming. It is at top of the in-demand programming languages list in 2021. Engaging in these Python open-source projects can help you develop essential development skills.
TensorFlow is a free open-source software used for machine learning and AI. By contributing to this open-source project, you can contribute to the technology that solves complex problems. Its application spans medicine, education, research, retail, and more.
The greatest thing about TensorFlow is that there are many samples and tutorials that help you master it.
As one of the major Python web frameworks, Django is used on sites like Instagram and Mozilla. This open-open source project can help you learn rapid development and the Do-Not-Repeat-Yourself principle. It follows the model-template-views architecture.
Contributing to Django allows you to immerse yourself in clean, pragmatic design built by experienced developers.
Flask is a web framework - meaning that it provides you with tools to build web apps. In comparison with Django, a full-stack web framework, Flask is lightweight and offers virtual debugging. This makes it a great open-source project for beginners.
OpenCV is an open-source project that functions as a computer vision and machine learning software library. It offers more than 2500 algorithms for tasks related to computer vision, like classification, tracking, and recognition. Companies like Google, Intel, and IBM use it in their projects.
Red Hat’s Ansible is an open-source project, and it’s an alternative to solutions like Chef, Jenkins, and Puppet. By automating provisioning, app deployment, and other IT processes, Ansible makes network automation simpler. Its greatest benefit is that it reduces the possibility of human error in all those processes, thus making them more secure.
C++ open-source projects
C++ is used to create some of the fastest high-performance software. It is the predominant programming language in gaming. Since it’s a powerful and continuously-evolving language, you can learn a lot of valuable programming tricks by engaging in C++ open-source projects.
Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit
Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, also known as CNTK, is an open-source deep-learning framework. You can create machine learning prediction models with it. Most importantly, CNTK is used to build deep neural networks, which are essential to some of the most advanced AI tech of today.
IncludeOS is a minimal unikernel operating system that enables you to run apps in the cloud without an OS. It can be used in enterprise solutions, microservices, and IoT alike. This innovative open-source project is the one to keep your eye on!
You might have already heard about Kodi. This open-source project gained its popularity due to its great interface, skinning engine, and multiple awards it has gotten. It works as an entertainment center and home theatre, and it’s available for multiple OS.
Another OS on our list! SerenityOS is an interesting open-source project to explore if you’re a Unix fan. It has old-school graphics so it’s very nostalgic, but it also features contemporary power-user accessibility.
Monero is a famous decentralized cryptocurrency that is also an open-source project. It differs from other cryptos with its safety features - for example, traders’ addresses, balances, and transaction details cannot be deciphered.
It is surely a project to keep your eyes on in the upcoming years!
Java open-source projects
From web pages to tv screens, we are surrounded by apps written in Java. This versatile programming language is still one of the most sought-after in the market.
Contributing to these Java open-source projects can help you develop essential programming skills to master this language.
Jenkins is an automation server with over 1000 plugins to automate almost anything. This open-source project also helps developers to build and deploy their apps easily.
The Spring Framework is an app development framework. Millions use it to create, test, and deploy their code. It is beloved for being powerful, yet lightweight, and flexible.
Elasticsearch is a great open-source project to contribute to if you’re interested in data science. It can analyze, search, and store big volumes of data in real-time. Elasticsearch helps its users to put data to work in many different ways.
This free open-source project is popular for enabling building and testing software. As it supports large-scale software building, Bazel is used by Google, Huwaei, Dropbox, and other enterprise players.
Apache Tomcat is one of the most used web servers for Java. It’s used by many that need to deploy JSPs, WebSockets, and servlets. Its intent is to be a product of the collaboration of the best developers in the world - so try to contribute to this popular open-source project and soak in the wisdom!
🔓 Find out more projects to contribute to on our list of best open-source software.
Why should you contribute to open-source projects?
You can contribute to all of the above-mentioned open-source projects - but why should you, exactly? Here are the most important reasons why it’s a good idea.
Improving the project
The greatest beauty of an open-source community is that its members are primarily driven by their genuine interest in the projects at hand. Therefore, a lot of people contribute to open-source projects because out of altruistic reasons - they want to improve it!
Making the open-source software run faster, smarter, or making it more secure will add to its quality. Since open-source software is transparent and free to use by anybody, your contribution can help people all over the world!
Building your confidence
Let’s imagine a scenario where you want to improve your coding skills in Java, C++, or Python. However, you don’t know how you actually stand nor where you need to improve - in other words, you have no mentor to guide you.
By contributing to open-source projects, you get immediate feedback on your work! You can also receive very specific instructions on how to improve parts of your code. This helps you to improve your work and build your confidence as a developer.
Gaining valuable knowledge
By emerging yourself into a certain open-source project, you’re getting valuable knowledge about the software at hand. In other words, you’re not just learning by doing - you’re learning by interacting with other developers’ code.
Moreover, you are getting insight into how an app works from the beginning to the end. Acquiring such knowledge isn’t comparable to anything theoretical you may learn.
Leveraging your career prospects
By contributing to open-source projects, you are signaling your talent to potential employers. For them, it’s easy to check your actual work and evaluate if you’d be a good fit for their open roles. In the words of Frank Scheffler, "active open source contributions emphasize your expertise and knowledge, more than certificates alone will ever do”.
Moreover, by contributing to multiple projects, you’re building your network of contacts, which can never hurt your career!
🔓 Here are some inspirational quotes on open-source from industry influencers. Hopefully, it will fuel you with motivation to explore and contribute to an open-source project!
How to contribute to an open-source project?
There are numerous open-source projects for beginners - but how do you get started?
Here’s a quick summary of Open Source Guide on How to Contribute to Open Source:
1. Where to find open-source projects to contribute to?
You might wonder where to even start when deciding to take a chance and contribute to an open-source project. You might want to explore these websites:
There, you will likely find cool open-source projects and detailed instructions on how to contribute to them.
2. How to spot a good project to contribute to?
There are a couple of ways to determine if the project you want to contribute to is worth your time.
First of all, see if it has a license in the root of the repository to eliminate the chances of the project not being open source.
After that, check how active the project is. Are the latest commit and pull requests recent? Is there multiple contributors? Are the opened issues and pull requests responded to quickly? Are issues getting closed?
If you determine that the project is active, it’s probably a good one to contribute to!
3. How to actually contribute to an open source project?
First of all, look for contributing docs in the repository to determine what sort of contribution is accepted and what the process looks like. You won’t find this file in every project though.
Secondly, you don’t have to necessarily contribute code! You can help with design, help to improve the project’s documentation, organize duplicate issues, and more.
Of course, most of the open-source contributors contribute code. Here’s how you can do it:
- Open an issue if you need to report an error, propose a new feature, or discuss a high-level topic. Communicate directly and give context to your proposal.
- Open a pull request if you want to submit easy fixes (smaller error), or start working on a contribution that was already discussed in an open issue.
Leverage the open-source technology behind Rocket.Chat
As you know, open-source technologies have multiple advantages. They are available at a portion of the price of proprietary software. They are also flexible and more secure due to frequent code revisions by the open-source community.
These are all principles we adhere to in Rocket.Chat! Our many contributors have helped us become one of the most secure instant messaging solutions on the market.
Why not try it for yourself? Try our community version and contribute to our ever-evolving open-source project - we’d be happy to have you on board!