We all know the benefits that open source software has to those of us who code. It allows you to link, you get free backups to your code, and is an overall learning experience. Once you are seasoned in the whole process, you might decide to go on and develop your own open source software.
Now, remember that open source does not include “free of charge” in its definition. Yes, of course, allowing others to modify or alter your source code is a great thing and is usually free. You can, however, monetize in ways that still make the source open. You can do this through dual licensing or some limited feature.
Why Should I Start My Open Source Project?
Well, besides all the benefits we have mentioned, there is this feeling of contributing to the world that has to be satisfying. But then, it is a huge opportunity to learn. You get to connect with programmers from pretty much everywhere and each one of them has something valuable to bring to the table.
Now, when you have set your mind and you feel comfortable with sharing your work with the world, follow these simple steps. Oh, and don´t forget your VPS from your favorite hosting service.
Set a Goal
Begin by asking yourself why do you want to make this project? Setting goals helps you decide what course to take, what to do, what to say not to, etc. You may have one goal for several projects or several goals for the same project. Just make sure you have a path to follow and a goal to score.
The Must Haves
There are some basic documents that all open source must have. Make sure you have them to avoid any legal issues in the future. Those are:
- Open Source License
- Contributing guidelines
- Code of Conduct
These are important if you want to keep the entire experience as something positive. Entering these documents into your root directory will help hosts surface them for your readers.
Choose a License
Legal work is not really nice, but probably neither is having to write a license. However, it is necessary to guarantee that others will modify your software without any repercussions. Lucky for you, you can copy/paste and modify other licenses. The most popular ones are MIT, GPLv3, and Apache 2.0. or any others.
Write the README
The README is important not only to explain how to use your project, but it also tells other how they can use your project and why it actually matters.
You answer questions such as What does this project do? How do I get started? Where do I get help? and many more. As you progress down your project, new questions might arise.
Write the Contribution Guidelines
The contributing page informs users how to contribute to your project. But not only do you provide the guidelines on how to suggest a new feature, for example. Use this opportunity to also communicate your expectations for contributions. You can, for example, state what kind of contribution you are looking for or how can they get in touch with you.
Establish a Code of Conduct
If you want to reduce your headache as the creator of the software, make sure you tell people how to behave and handle themselves. With this code, you help create a nice environment of communication and development.