Becoming an effective open source maintainer
Developing code is not easy. It is a challenge, but it is also a fun thing to do. Maintaining a project, however, is not easy either. It requires a very different skillset and time investment. When I became a maintainer of Selectize, I was able to learn a lot about the project and how to improve it, and I was able to learn so much about how to interact with the community.
As developers, we all rely heavily on open-source projects and packages. Many of the projects we use are maintained by the community, and we often find ourselves in a situation where we need to make a change to a project. While some projects are sponsored by large companies with dedicated developers, others are maintained by the community, largely by one or two dedicated developers operating in their own time, and without any outside help and financial support.
Specifically, while working on ArchiTECH™, I relied heavily on the Selectize project. When the project was no longer able to be maintained by its original team, I needed to make changes to support my own needs, but I was also able to learn a lot about the project and how to improve it, and I was able to learn so much about how to interact with the community; it seemed selfish to hide the improvements behind a fork, or to find a new solution for ArchiTECH™.
After a few conversations with the prior maintainers, I was able to gain access to help bring the project back to life. Being able to help so many other developers was a great learning experience and I am grateful for the support I received.
Being a maintainer is a lot of thankless work., but it can provide a lot of value and satisfaction. Here are some tricks and tips that I have learned to help me improve my skills, and I hope you can learn from them.
ProTip #1: Read your documentation out loud. It is a good way to learn to write conversationally. Ask yourself if what you have written is phrased in way that you would explain it someone in person, if not try to make it clearer.
ProTip #2: Have new contributors test your documentation. If they ffind omissions or errors, corrections make an excellent, easy, and, and valuable pull request!
If you are a maintainer of a project or a new developer looking to make your project open-source, and you want to learn more about how to improve your skills, I recommend you to learn as much as you can, and practice often. Read through Contribution Guides. They are great resources for all maintainers and will help you learn how to improve your skills. Feel free to take a look at any of my open projects and see if I have a project you can help with. I would love to help you out, and I hope you enjoy your time with me.