Getting started: Training missions

Every few days, someone asks me, how do I get started on this Open Source thing? It’s not always an easy question to answer, because the barrier to entry can be quite high. You need to know how to program. You need to find a project that interests you. And you need to navigate both the community and the technical aspects of that project.

I’ve recently been watching the OpenHatch site, with its wonderful approach to getting people involved in projects. They seem to really care about the projects, but also about the developers who are casting about looking for a place where they can be useful.

One brilliant resource on the site is the training missions. These are short exercises designed to teach you some of the basic skills required to survive in the Open Source wasteland. You do the task, and you’re evaluated by a little bit of software which is non-judgmental and won’t laugh when you make a mistake. You can do it as many times as necessary in order to get it right, and then move on to the next thing.

Over time, the list of training missions will grow, and this site will be an even more valuable resource that all of us in the Open Source community can point to, so that we don’t all have to develop this training material for ourselves.

OpenHatch also offers resources for connecting projects with developers, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this matures over time. I’m already a big fan.

While you’re there, also take a look at their project growth cookbook, which offers a lot of great ideas for getting people involved in your community.

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