Diving into Open-Source with Hacktoberfest-2020

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Diving into Open-Source with Hacktoberfest-2020

Published on May 12, 2019 by Sandipan Das

Whether you’re a professional developer or a student (like me) just starting out with open-source contributions, you may have very well heard of Hacktoberfest. It’s one of the most iconic celebrations hosted by DigitalOcean every year to support and encourage more individuals to engage with the open-source community and add their small meaningful contributions to thousands of open-source projects (repositories) available on GitHub.

Q. What is Hacktoberfest all about?

Hacktoberfest is a celebration open to everyone in the global community. Pull requests can be made in participating GitHub-hosted repositories/projects, classified with the Hacktoberfest topic.

You can sign up anytime between October 1 and October 31 and complete the challenge. And yes, you get free swags in recognition of your valuable pull requests (at least 4).

I came to know about Hacktoberfest in 2019 (to be precise, November 2019) through some of my peers. Yeah, that’s right……. 1 month after Hacktoberfest concluded last year. Can’t help it, my friends are wicked. But then I had about 12 months ahead of me, 12 months to work on my skills and familiarize myself with open-source development. Mind you, I haven’t had the faintest idea about version control or open-source till that point. A year rolled by and by the time Pretember (September is popularly considered as the warmup phase before Hacktoberfest, and thus named) came along, I was sufficiently confident with version control and raising Pull Requests in external repositories via GitHub. It was kind of daunting to suggest changes to open-source repositories via Pull Requests, not knowing whether you’d face disapproving reviews or not, but I still persisted. That was the only way I could break free from my comfort zone of approving reviews and the notion of merged PRs every single time.

Anyways, I had raised about 2 Pull Requests by October 15th when I came to know about Crio.Do’s #IBelieveInDoing Edition of Hacktoberfest through LinkedIn.

I was pretty curious about it, so naturally, I registered without a thought. Yeah, I tend to do that a lot.

The event was scheduled from October 14th to October 31st.

Over the next 14 days, we had the opportunity to contribute to Hacktoberfest meaningfully in either of the two ways-

As a Creator: A creator had the liberty to create micro-learning-modules (Crio MicroBytes) on any topic of his/her choice. Each microbyte was definitely unique in the sense that it would guide others through relevant documentation instead of providing the entire solution in a step-wise fashion. Oh, Microbytes are small learning modules for the developer community to get a focused idea about certain concepts.

As a Learner: A learner had the opportunity to work on fixing certain issues raised by a Creator based on his/her microbyte. A learner could also raise pull requests to improve upon existing documentation of any microbyte of his/her choice.

Over the next 14 days, I’d embark on a journey that would change my outlook towards open-source development forever, and for the better. I chose to become a Creator and actively engaged myself in creating interactive micro-bytes for avid learners out there. Every micro-byte took a whole lot of effort to build up from scratch.

The sole reason I became a Creator was that I could easily place myself in the shoes of so many budding student developers out there and understand the kind of problems they might face when learning something new, something of value. Based on this perspective, I started handcrafting my micro-bytes from the grassroots.

Time and again, I felt demotivated on receiving PR reviews that requested more changes to my existing content or asking to changing my approach to building a micro-byte.

You have to realize that this pain will mold you into a better developer in the long haul. And in the end, all those painstaking late nights of coding or additional commits to existing repositories fade away to one thing. YES, it’s the unmeasurable joy of getting a Pull Request merged into an external repository, something that can only be experienced first-hand when we get into the grind of open-source contributions.

After each micro-byte gets merged, the Crio-Advocates also add the Contributor tag to the file of the corresponding repository in which the micro-byte was created.

14 days passed by so quickly, and I was definitely proud of myself near the end.

I had created 3 full-fledged micro-bytes for so many student learners out there and had truly served justice to the sole motive behind Hacktoberfest, i.e. positive open-source contributions that help the dev community in some way.

And yes, it changed my outlook towards open source forever, and definitely for the better.

And with all those pull requests and a whole lot more, I DID IT!!! I completed Hacktoberfest 2020 with the best feeling I’ve felt in a long time.

Looking back at it now, I feel so happy for having been able to overcome my reluctance and fear of Open Source, one pull request at a time. I am so proud of myself for having been able to complete this challenge in spite of starting out as a complete newbie. And none of it would have been possible without the vast open-source community out there always there to help us out through documentation and hints time and again.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Hacktoberfest, DigitalOcean, and Crio.Do for this amazing opportunity to contribute to Open Source and become a part of their valued community.

I would definitely encourage amateurs like me out there waiting for the perfect moment to start with Open-Source contributions to get into the grind of things without waiting any longer.

Trust me, there’s no perfect moment. You just need to jump into open-source without thinking, and eventually, you’ll figure things out along the way. SO, what are you waiting for? Go make that first commit, raise that Pull Request or fix your first issue. It’s never too late to begin.

@Sandipan Das