Open Source Everything: Working with the jQuery Foundation

One of the awesome things about being a Bocouper is being able to use a quarter of your time to explore and work on open source. Whether it’s just trying out new tools or regularly contributing to a large project, it’s a great way for us to improve and give back to the technologies we use and teach. Sometimes, we find that a project’s goals align so closely with our own that we go above and beyond that threshold to provide even more support.

Over the past few months, I’ve been able to spend a great deal of time working on the jQuery Foundation’s initiative to open source the content and design of all its sites. A major reason for this effort is to dramatically lower the barrier for community involvement and therefore open up entirely new avenues for people who’d like to begin helping out, but haven’t been sure how.

Throughout our experiences teaching classes and working with clients on consulting projects, many of us have noticed that newcomers face a double challenge when trying to get started with open source. This is because of the combination of needing to learn new tools while also searching to find bugs that they’re actually capable of solving (that haven’t already been swept up by the project’s maintainers). This lack of fodder can limit the opportunities to gain experience, and ultimately many end up demoralized and commit-less.

That’s why I’m so excited about the work we’ve done at the jQuery Foundation to apply the same workflows that we use when developing JavaScript libraries to documentation and design. There have always been a lot of ways to contribute to jQuery beyond writing code, but many of them required special permission to access and offered nothing but a textarea when you got there. With the new system we have in place, anyone can report an issue or propose a fix (from the comfort of their favorite text editor) simply by sending a pull request, and updating our sites is as simple as pushing a commit to master.

It’s good news for people who are already good at using git and GitHub, but it’s also good news for folks who have been hesitant to try them out. You don’t have to “reproduce” a typo, nor do you have to write unit tests for a new paragraph of documentation. So if you “just use a little bit” of jQuery but always thought you’d never have anything you’d be able to contribute back, it’s definitely time to think again! Or if you have been searching for an open source project where you can have a significant impact while you still learn to flex your git muscles, consider yourself at home!

To learn more about the technologies involved and find out how it all works, take a look at the jQuery Foundation’s web site contribution guide. The new jQuery Learning Center is especially ripe territory for anyone who likes helping other people out and has good ideas to share!

I’m thrilled to have had Bocoup’s support implementing this new stack, and I’m proud to have had a part in bringing things to where they are today. It’s been an amazing ride thus far, and I’m looking forward to watching the sites evolve as more developers join us in improving themselves, each other, and the entire Open Web.

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