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Section 1.6 Building your OSS Portfolio

Perhaps the greatest benefit of contributing to OSS projects: you have the opportunity to prove, to yourself and to others, that you can usefully contribute to real software projects. You will meet and interact with other developers, some of whom work on OSS projects for a living. If you can help them solve their problems, they are inclined to help you solve yours — with advice, contacts, recommendation letters, and maybe even job offers.

Subsection 1.6.1 Building Your OSS Portfolio

One of the big differences between working in OSS and working on proprietary software is that your work is visible to anyone who cares to look. Every mailing list post you write, every blog entry you post, every bug report you file, every word of documentation you improve, every wiki page you edit, and every line of code you write, are available for anyone’s inspection.
This a huge potential advantage, if you know how to use it. In the coming chapters, as you begin to engage with your chosen OSS project, we point out portfolio building opportunities.
Really, though, the portfolio should be a side effect. If you choose a project that matters to you, and if you work hard to help that project achieve its goals, then your portfolio builds itself.

Checkpoint 1.6.1. Exercise: Learn about a project’s leaders.

Revisit the project you blogged about in Checkpoint 1.2.1, and spend some time figuring out who some of the project leaders are. Read through the project wiki, mailing lists, and so on. What can you find out about the project leaders? What information do they make available about themselves? Given what you’ve read, what do you think about their work?

Checkpoint 1.6.2. Exercise: Write your own OSS bio.

Find an online wiki provider such as  MediaWiki
, for example, and create a wiki page that will become your online OSS portfolio. Write a little bit about yourself. Link to content: your resume, your blog, your Twitter account, or anything that might be relevant to potential employers. You will use this portfolio extensively over the course of this book.

Subsection 1.6.2 Supplemental Materials

The Cathedral and The Bazaar
is a great story about the OSS principles in action. Written originally in 1998 by Eric S. Raymond, it’s considered a must-read by many OSS practitioners.

Checkpoint 1.6.3.

    In the context of the text, what should be the primary focus while contributing to an OSS project?
  • Building your portfolio.
  • Building your portfolio shouldn’t be your primary focus while working on an OSS project as your portfolio will build itself if the project achieves its goals.
  • Networking with project leaders.
  • While networking can be beneficial, it is not the primary focus mentioned in the text when contributing to an OSS project.
  • Seeking job offers.
  • Contributing to OSS projects can open up job opportunities, this should not be your main reason to collaborate with the OSS community.
  • Working hard on a project that matters to you.
  • Correct! If you choose a project that matters to you, and if you work hard to help that project achieve its goals, then you also achieve all of the above.
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