A Simple But Effective Way to Contribute to Open Source Projects

I use open source code every day. Be it Rails or the myriad of Ruby gems out there, open source is part of my life and work.

To show gratitude to those who volunteered thousand of developing hours to these projects, I often search ways in which I can contribute to them too. Until recently I simply didn’t know how my contribution could be meaningful. But I may have found a simple but effective way to contribute to open source projects.

It all started when I used the MetaInspector gem in one of my projects. After using it, I thought about the amount of time it saved me in developing a url scraping feature I had to do. So I decided to check the gem repo to see if I could add anything to it. I had a look at the issues, looked at the documentation, forked the repo and ran the tests. It was when I noticed that that was some deprecation warnings showing in RSpec. The most recent RSpec is 3.0 so I saw a chance there to update Rspec and to include the new RSpec syntax in the gem tests.

Once I updated the tests, I submitted a pull request and added my comments.
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Jaime Iniesta, the maintainer of the gem, replied to me within minutes.
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I was exhilarated! A simple but relevant contribution was well on its way. I made the modification he suggested and again within minutes I received a feedback.
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My own small but meaningful contribution to an open source project. It made me feel great that day! This experience also made me realize that contribution can be something such as updating tests in gem, adding some CSS to redesign a gem website or write documentation. I hope this post inspires you to contribute something simple but effective in its own way.

It Is Not Who you Influence, It Is How You Influence

Robert White worked at the same company in New York City with me. This was my first job after college and I did sales support. During my three years stint at this corporation, Robert worked there part-time. We immediately took a liking to each other after we met. We shared the trait of not taking the American corporate work environment too seriously.

We would laugh and crack jokes at our more-often-than-not boring and time wasting tasks. We spent a good amount of time talking about culture, world languages and memories from 20th century USA. He was in his 60s and had lived a great life. He was an extraordinary person and my great friend. The kindness and support he gave me during the time I met him was a source of inspiration to me. For this, he’s made a positive impact in my life.

Before I left this company, I asked him if he could write a letter of recommendation so I could apply to a fellowship program in Germany. He did it gladly even during a turbulent period of his life. I didn’t know this then but he had cancer and was about to start chemotherapy for a tumor that had spread to his bones.

It has been a little over a year since Robert passed away and I miss him dearly. As a German language enthusiast as he was, he would be glad to know that the letter of recommendation he wrote ended up helping me getting the research fellowship I so coveted in Germany. Today I am here enjoying the fruits of the kindness and love that he selflessly poured onto a friend.

Robert’s acts and virtues have influenced my life. I am better human being due to this.

Danke schön fur alles Liebster Freund.