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Budding developers often rely on online tutorials and references to build their foundation of coding. As it is with any form of learning, this simply imparts knowledge to the learner. It is hardly a source of hands-on experience and practical application skills.
This is why all beginner developers should commit to projects that help them to apply their skills and learn more in the process. These projects can be a solo effort for them to test their skills, or as a team, with fellow devs from around the world.
Open source projects are an excellent way for coders and developers to test their mettle and learn more advanced methods. In an open-source project, there will be many contributors of varying skill levels and expertise.
Each contributor adds to the project according to their capabilities, and a combined effort leads to the fulfillment of the goal. Therefore, it is the best way for any individual to learn, gain practical experience, and understand what it’s like to work with a team of peers.
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Choosing Open Source Projects
Open Source projects are available in many sources on the internet. Each source is different depending on the type of content, languages, dedicated platforms, and levels of difficulty that they offer.
The most popular repository for projects is GitHub, with projects of all languages, platforms, and levels of difficulty in their list. It has over 31 million devs looking to store their projects and network with fellow coders and is a great place to learn from.
Open Source projects can vary in size, scope, and level of difficulty. Therefore, it is important to choose the right project at the right stage of your progress. Beginner level coders should choose projects of that level of difficulty. You can find this on GitHub by looking for projects marked with “Beginner” or “good first issue” labels.
Here are some great projects and repositories for beginners looking to gain knowledge and some hands-on experience. These projects are widely popular, with contributors of varying degrees of proficiency from beginner to expert. It is important to note that many of these projects are hosted on GitHub and contain many levels of problems. You can search for other beginner level entries by looking at the right tags.
1. 30 Seconds of Code
In short, this is a repository of easily digestible data that can simultaneously be used to learn and contribute to beginners. This may not be a project that beginners can contribute to, but it is still a great start for people looking to grasp concepts.
2. First Contributions
This project is, quite obviously, for GitHub users who are looking to make their first contribution to GitHub. It walks you through the procedural steps that you would have to take to make a contribution to open source projects. After you are done, it will also redirect you to a list of projects you can tackle through their own webpage. It has over 13,200 stars and almost 33,000 forks on GitHub.
3. TensorFlow Models
TensorFlow projects are for those new developers who are interested in Machine Learning and Deep Learning. Beginners should ideally learn from some TensorFlow Tutorials and observe the official models before contributing to any project.
Currently, the GitHub TensorFlow Model Garden contains projects of Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision. These official models are a collection that uses TensorFlow’s high-level APIs and is to be properly curated, tested, and updated to keep up with the latest build. These models are also intended to be properly optimized so that they run the same or faster with each new build.
There are many projects on GitHub and other similar sources that are aimed at beginners. Some of these are meant to educate by providing you with study materials, while others are more like walkthroughs or practice exercises. Whatever the case may be, these are beginner-friendly projects and often the place to start. However, this is not at all the case in all projects marked as a “good first issue”.
Some of the high-level apps, websites, platforms, and projects also offer work that is fit for beginners. This is mainly because the high-level works are done by people who have the necessary qualifications to do so, but the project is still open-sourced and contains many tasks to be done on all levels of difficulty. Here are some intricate projects that also offer a spot for the newcomers to tackle real issues while learning the ropes.
Zulip is one of the fastest-growing open-source projects on the internet and is an open-source group chat application. It combines instant real-time messaging with the utility of threaded conversations and runs on open-source platforms. The app’s team offers many tasks that a beginner level programmer can perform to learn as well as add to their portfolio.
On Zulip, you can be one of the many contributors to the platform by contributing code as well as performing non-code contributions such as reporting issues, translation, or giving feedback to improve the app. You can also host and run a Zulip server, which runs on many platforms, including Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic, Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial, and Debian 9 Stretch.
Also Read: Python AI & ML Open Source Projects
Neovim is tagged “good first issue” on GitHub, which indicates that it is suitable for people looking for their first open-source projects on GitHub. Vim is a powerful text editor over two decades old and has a rich, fostering community surrounding it. It has accumulated over 300,000 lines of C89 code that very few people can even comprehend, and even fewer dare to touch.
Neovim puts forward a solution to the headache of fostering Vim by re-factoring its source code. This aims to make maintenance easier by accelerating bug fixes and addition of new features, add modern UI without affecting the source code, splitting the work among multiple devs, and add a new plugin architecture that will improve its extensibility power.
This project is not a mission to rewrite Vim but to change it to suit modern times. The changes will have as little impact as possible on the source code. With almost 40,000 stars on GitHub, this is a very popular project in the community.
iGraph is a library that is usable from C, R, Python, and Mathematica. The project is for creating, manipulating, and analyzing graphs. It is a library of network analysis tools and emphasizes efficiency, portability, and ease of use. The Igraph repository on GitHub has over a thousand stars and many suitable problems for beginner level devs to solve.
Scrapy is a high level, fast and accurate data scraping tool built on a Python framework. It is used to scour cyberspace and collect the required data from many online sources, according to the user’s requirement.
It is used for data mining, monitoring purposes, and even testing. This high-level web crawler also has a rich GitHub repository that can serve as a good place for beginner level entrants to try out. This project should be interesting for Data Miners and scientists as well.
Jina is a search framework that has cross-modal search implementation capabilities. It is powered by Deep Learning, and it can be used to enable text, image, and audio searches in the cloud. It can be extended using Pythonic interfaces, is plug and play, cloud-enabled, and contains great AI modals, among other capabilities.
It can be installed on Linux or macOS with Python. This is a high-level Deep Learning project which also has relatively easier tasks for beginners. Anyone interested in AI, Cloud Computing, and search engines should definitely take up this project.
Open-source software has revolutionized Computer Science in many ways. It is now a field powered by a vibrant community of developers who work on their passion projects while making a living with their skills. Open source projects drive many people from beginner to expert levels of knowledge and skill. These are vital to the growth of any aspiring programmer.
GitHub alone is a treasure trove for programming hopefuls to start their careers. For beginners, it is the best platform to work with their peers and learn as you contribute. There are projects exclusively for beginners, and there are also humongous repositories of high-level ideas that allow newcomers into the fold. Use these chances wisely to learn as you grow, and hone your skills as a developer.
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How to choose an open source project?
Open Source projects can be found in a variety of places on the internet. Depending on the type of content, languages, specific platforms, and levels of difficulty that they provide, each source is unique. GitHub is the most popular project repository, with projects across all languages, platforms, and levels of difficulty. It is a terrific platform to learn from, with over 31 million developers looking to store their projects and network with other coders. The scale, scope, and difficulty of open source initiatives can all vary.
How can I contribute to open source projects as a beginner?
Look for projects or organizations to which you'd like to contribute. Visit their GitHub repository, read the instructions, and perform the search for first-timer issues. Working on as many issues as you can, either across projects or for a single project, is a good idea. Join their IRC channel (Gitter, Discord, Slack, and other similar services). When you're stuck, introduce yourself and ask for assistance. The links to the channels can be found on their GitHub pages. Start engaging in open source programs after you're comfortable contributing to open source.
Why should I contribute to open-source?
There would not have been as many features and upgrades in the software. This is where the open source community can help. Contributors from all over the world assist in the development and improvement of the software for all of us who use it. As a contributor, you will have the superpower of being a part of something that has a huge impact on so many people's lives. Apart from the impact you may have, it also helps you grow as a developer and, over time, as a good mentor, leader, and team player.