Open Source for Beginners with Google Code-in

Google Code-in 2016 has already started and its a pleasure that I am a part of it this time working as a mentor with FOSSASIA on behalf on Public Lab which is working as a partner org with FOSSASIA. It is in its 7th consecutive year.

Google Code-in is a contest introducing pre-university students between the ages 13 to 17 to open source development. GCI takes place entirely online and is held during Winter every year during this time. The official dates are from 28 November, 2016 – 16 January, 2017 this time. Follow the timeline for detailed schedule. Winners get exciting goodies and T-Shirt from Google and a chance to visit the Google US office for a one week trip with their parents.

To many of you reading this post the word Open Source might be completely new. So let me start with very basics.

Every software that you use starting from your Operating system (Windows, Linux etc.) to any application, is written with some sort of code. So the beautiful and mind blowing applications that you use in your computers or mobiles is the hardwork of some awesome developers who write this code. So many of you out there might have a curiousness to look behind the code that caused it. But not all software are “Open Source” meaning not all of them provide you access to their code.

Open source Software means software whose code is available to all. You can use it, modify it and distribute it ( subject to the License provided along with it ). And the most awesome part is you can actually contribute to it and help it to improve.

Now the most important question. How to actually contribute to Open Source ?  The task may look daunting seeing the millions of lines of code beneath. But believe me it’s actually fun once you get started with it. And what you will love the most about Open Source once you land in it is that you will always find people to help you. So Open Source isn’t just lines of code, it refers to the whole community who preach it and are involved with it. And once you get started with it you will actually fall in love with it.

So if you are completely blank about Open Source ( or already a Open Source contributor ) and want to know more about it and meet the criteria ( between 13 and 17 years of age ) Google Code-in 2016 is just the best place for you to get started.  You don’t have know about Coding even to get started. There are many beginner and non-Coding tasks to make you acquainted to Open Source. So why wait ? Just register yourself for Google Code-in 2016 !

How to Get Started ?

These are few basic steps that you should follow

  1. Create an account on Github
  2. Read the Guides and About Section in Google Code-in website. Be aware of the Timeline.
  3. Register yourself on Google Code-in site
  4. Search for an Organization like FOSSASIA ( which I am mentoring for )
  5. View tasks and choose a Task labelled Beginner to get  started
  6. Claim the Task and follow the instructions provided to complete it
  7. Get it reviewed by the Mentor

What you need to Know ?

Well there’s nothing much you need to know. There are many non-Coding tasks like writing blog posts, making a video, improving documentations. So you really don’t need to know anything except doing conversations in English which is a must as it is the medium of Conversation since it is an worldwide event. It is specially designed to encourage new comers to Open Source and make them learn. But if you already know Coding in any scripting, programming and markup language it is a plus point and you can approach coding tasks. Even if you don’t know Coding it’s completely OK as you can start learning from here.

A short introduction to Git and Github

Well this is a lot of talk and if you recall I mentioned it is completely online and you work from home. But did you wonder how can you actually work on the same piece of code sitting at remote places when you have so many people working on the same code? Won’t it get all messed up when people try to change things at the same time ( at the same line of code to be specific ). So here comes the concept of Version Control System which actually helps to deal with this and Git is a software that helps in Version Control. You don’t need to get scared as this is nothing but a way to work with different versions of code existing with each user after changes are made. To learn more on it just wait for my next blog Post. And this is something that you need to learn in Open-Source as it is used eveywhere in Open-Source and you will get to learn it at some point in Google Code-in.

As for Github it is the largest git hosting website in the current Date. In simple terms it is the place hosting the largest number of Open Source Projects often called the developers Hub. So if you want to work on a wide variety of Open Source projects Github is the place where you will find them. The smart Octocat logo is the most seen thing that you will become familiar with as you become an Open source developer.

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