Like a lot of software development experts and web developers, you’ve probably heard of open source projects. But what exactly are they, why are they important, and how can you get involved?
In this blog post, we’ll be answering all these questions. We will also be sharing ten of our favourite open source projects on the web.
What are open source projects?
Open source projects (also referred to as “free and open source projects” or “free open source softwares”) are projects that everybody is able to use, modify, share, and contribute to.
Usually, open source projects consist of source code that can be manipulated, changed, and added to create new and improved versions of the original program.
There are a range of different project types that may be created under the open source umbrella. These include:
- Web applications
- Web pages
- Mobile apps
- Cross-platform applications
- Computer softwares
- Web servers
- Containerised applications
- Entire operating systems
There are a few other characteristics that define these projects, including that they are based on the principles of collaborative participation, open exchange, transparency, and community-oriented development.
How do open source softwares differ from other types of software?
The main open source alternative is proprietary or closed source software. With this type of software, only the person or organisation who created it is able to copy, modify, and use its source code.
By comparison, the source code for open source softwares is publicly accessible, meaning that anyone can view, copy, or modify it.
Why open source projects?
There are loads of benefits to these projects. These include that they:
- Remove barriers to those wanting to enter the development space by making it open and accessible to anyone
- Promote collaboration by inviting people from all over the world to work on projects together
- Provide more control by allowing users to modify the software’s source code to add customised features (whereas proprietary softwares cannot be modified by the user in this way)
- Can be adopted by anyone for any purpose, and used as the basis to build entirely new programs and softwares
- Promote a greater degree of transparency by making the source code accessible to everyone
- Provide source code that can be used as a learning tool by new programmers and developers wanting to learn
- Are considered by many to be more stable and secure than proprietary softwares
How can I contribute to open source projects?
When people first think of open source projects, web development and coding are usually the first things that come to mind. This is definitely one way in which you can contribute, as projects will always be looking for developers to build their platforms.
However, there are actually loads of ways that you can contribute, no matter what your skillset.
For example, a lot of projects need people to help with design, copywriting, organising, customer service, and training and mentoring newcomers to the project.
How can you get involved in open source projects?
If you’re interested in becoming part of the open source community, there are loads of platforms that you can use to find projects to get involved in. Open Source Friday, Code Triage, Ovio, Codetribute, First Contributions, Up For Grabs, SourceSort, First Contributions, Good First Issues, Contributor-ninja, 24 Pull Requests, and First Timers Only are all great places to start.
Open Source Guides is also a great resource if you’re new to the open source space. This site has loads of resources that will teach you everything you need to know about starting and getting involved in projects.
Our top 10 picks
Without further ado, here is a list of our ten favourite open source projects on the web. If you’re not sure where to get started, here would be a good place to start!
- TensorFlow Models (a library of computational and machine learning models, developed using the Python web framework)
- Kubernetes (a system that enables you to manage different containerised applications that are spread across multiple hosts)
- Flask (a web framework that enables you to build new web applications with ease)
- Open CV (a library of machine learning algorithms that is used by giants like Google, IBM, and Intel)
- IncludeOS (an operating system that allows you to run apps in the cloud)
- Universe (a platform used to train artificial intelligence)
- Bootstrap (a library of components for mobile-first development)
- Jenkins (a server with 1,000+ plug-ins available for the automation of different tasks)