Open source software, by it's very nature, depends on code contributions, but what open source communities need more than code contributions, are engaged users, dedicated companies, and an accessible way to learn how to contribute and participate. With more commercial, government, and nonprofit companies looking to leverage open source software and create and participate in open source communities, it is important to understand the open source community landscape.
Active open source users are the most essential part of a healthy open source community, but what is an active community participant? Active open source community members generally:
- Write blog posts about development tips and code contributions
- Attend and contribute sessions to local meetups and events
- Engage with other open source users in chat rooms, discussion forums, and community sites
Blogging for Code
Many open source developers often contribute knowledge to open source communities by blogging about what they learn while working or coding for fun.
For example Kyle Taylor, of LevelTen Interactive, recently wrote about the current state of Drupal admin themes, Tirdad Chaharlengi of Phase2 discussed the lessons he learned from RubyNation 2013, and Mark Dalgleish wrote a great post about using promises in AngularJS Views.
Sharing knowledge and starting conversations through blogs and discussion forums facilitate learning and development. -- Blogging is by far the easiest and most accessible learning tool for global communities.
Engaging Outside the Code
An active open source community can sometimes become more than technical contributions. Molly Byrnes recounted her experience in the Drupal community in her blog post, "Junket Report," where she notes that when she attended the Aaron Winborn fundraiser during DrupalCon Portland, she realized that the Drupal community is about more than supporting a CMS platform.
"This is beyond a code base and open source. this is a community who cares about each other and takes care of each other even when tough times fall."
Drupal is just one example of an open source platform that has numerous, highly-engaged companies within the community. The folks at Pantheon created a heart-warming video during DrupalCon Portland, interviewing Drupalers and Drupal shops about what Drupal can do. This kind of corporate initiative bolsters the community, and this project in particular, highlights the friendly, dynamic nature of the community.
Andre Hood discusses open source business development trends in his blog post "Top Three Trends In The Drupal Market." The third trend he mentions is that "the market is getting smarter." He explains that companies interested in using Drupal for their website, are engaging Drupal companies that are active partipants in the community. These savvy companies are learning the value of community contribution, and can see the correlation between community participation and expertise.
Enterprise clients are not only looking to work with Drupal companies that actively participate in the Drupal community, but we are seeing internal development teams from enterprise companies getting involved in Drupal community events. Chris Strahl writes about this trend in his recent blog post, citing that NBCUniversal has recently sent 40 internal development members to DrupalCon Portland this year - a major indicator of their devotion to this community.
New people and ideas are vital for open source software to grow and innovate. Creating an accessible learning environment is the key to growing open source communities. Drupal Global Training Days is an initiative by the Drupal Association to introduce new and beginning users to Drupal. This one day event involves Drupal trainers all over the world, volunteering their time to teach people how to use Drupal.
Another notable accessibile event is NYCCamp. NYCCamp is a completely free Drupal mini-conference coming up on July 12-15th in New York City. This Drupal camp is unique because of it emphasizes Drupal sprints, and the event is designed to not only teach beginners how to use Drupal but teach them how to contribute back to Drupal. Learn more about NYCCamp, and get involved!