Learning Through Doing: Finding Your Way To Contributing In Open Source Projects

A presentation at Adastral Women in Tech group by Ruth Cheesley

If you are in the tech sector, at some point you will probably have come across the words ‘open source’. Usually the first words that people come up with when they hear that relate to the price or the product, but often overlooked are the people who make up open source projects and communities, and the opportunities that open source can provide at any stage of your career.

In this talk, Ruth will share how she got started as a contributor in open source (through a non-traditional background in sport science and physiotherapy!) which led her to set up a digital agency purely focused on open source technologies, and now to leading a worldwide open source project which powers the marketing automation of some of the world’s largest brands.

We’ll dive into the many ways that you can get involved with open source projects, how to find your way to making your first contribution, and maybe even make our first contribution live during the session!


The following resources were mentioned during the presentation or are useful additional information.

  • Opensource.com

    A great source of all things open source!

  • Wikihouse

    Wikihouse.cc. An open source architecture project that is created by a global community of architects, designers, engineers, scientists, organisers and entrepreneurs. Aims to put the knowledge and tools to build beautiful, zero-carbon buildings into the hands of every citizen, community and business.

  • Arduino

    arduino.cc. An open source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software, intended for anyone creating interactive electronics-based projects. Arduino’s mission is to enable anyone to enhance their lives through accessible electronics and digital technologies. There was once a barrier between the electronics, design, and programming world and the rest of the world. Arduino has broken down that barrier.

  • Joomla!

    Joomla.org. An open source Content Management System (CMS) which allows you to build powerful, dynamic websites and applications primarily for publishing web content. Aims to be the most flexible, extendable platform which enables web creators to build powerful websites and applications with a free and open source community-powered platform.

  • Mautic

    mautic.org. An open source Marketing Automation tool which empowers marketers to learn about their customers and personalise their communications across multiple different channels to develop a trusted relationship with the individual. Aims to enable marketers to free their marketing through fully open source, customisable marketing automation tool which delights both the user and the customer alike.

  • First Timers Only

    Packed with useful information to help first-time contributors find projects and issues to work on.

  • First Contributions tutorial

    A tutorial where you make a contribution to this project - perfect for learning how the GitHub contributions workflow works.

  • Open Source Guide

    Great resources to help you find your way in making your first contributions.

  • Good first issues

    Good First Issue curates easy pickings from popular open-source projects, and helps you make your first contribution to open-source.

  • Up for grabs

    Up for grabs is a site that aggregates (rolls up and makes easy to explore) projects that actively want help. They label those projects with things like “up-for-grabs”, “jump-in” or “help wanted.”

  • Open Source Friday

    Open source is made by people just like you. This Friday, invest a few hours contributing to the software you use and love.