Starting a project – the open source way

Standard

You should start/build your project in a way where anyone can help you build it or evolve your work.

What’s the purpose of building something on your own when you can build it faster and in a more efficient way with others?

Nowadays we have all the tools and resources we need in order to start our own project. Stack overflow, github, instructables and hackaday are only a few of the available resources/tools which will help you build the most challenging hardware or software project.

But how we engage more people in our building process in order to achieve great things together?

1. Documentation

Boring but at the same time necessary, documentation is the most important step for engaging more people in the project’s development process.

Start by writing in a single line what do you want to achieve with this project/idea.

Then continue by describing the Why and the How. It’s OK to set high goals or have high expectations but it’s important to work on the next steps in achieving your goals.

Simple and clear tasks which will help you reach the project’s goals. And yes, all of these information should be published and easily accessible for everyone. Github is a great platform and has all the features needed to accommodate your source code/designs, your documentation under wiki and the next steps under the issues feature.

Last but not least don’t forget to write in detail how someone can contribute to your project. For example highlight some easy tasks to start with and write any technical details needed for building the project’s development environment.

2. Open Source

Either building a software or a hardware project your source code or schematics should always be accessible for everyone to read, test and contribute.

That way people can identify bugs, issues, propose solutions and help you through the development process of your idea.

3. Communication

You have built an easy and straight forward on-boarding process for people to engage with your project.

Now it’s time to share your idea! Find a community, a meetup, a group of people who might be interested in your idea and share it with them.

Choose and setup your project’s communication channel (email, github issues etc) and engage people in conversations around the project’s issues/tasks and goals.

Continuous communication is the key to your project’s success so always find time to comment issues, ideas and questions.

What’s next

By the end of the day there is a well documented, easily accessible and with clear contribution opportunities project.

Are people not interested in your idea yet or you lost your interested in continue developing it?

Eventually someone will be interested in contributing to your project or to continue your work and that’s the beauty of the Open Source movement.

 

Let me give you an example.

Today I was discussing with some friends in a community I am part of about starting a project around a specific tool. They informed me that a while ago they did 3 meetings around the same idea, started working on it but eventually they dropped it because they didn’t have any resources.

Unfortunately neither their idea nor their meetings were documented, due to lack of interest by other people at that time.

Do you see the value of documenting everything, having them Open Source and have clear and continuous communication?

Do you see the value of working out in the public?

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