Articles about Open Source

How to pick an open source project to contribute to

Open source powers many of the tools that we rely on daily for our work. As developers, we have the privilege of being able to read, learn, and build from thousands of codebases at our fingertips. What better way to give back to the community that creates the software that powers our world than to contribute to those very same tools?

Contributing to the open source community can be daunting for a seasoned developer, let alone a novice. One problem I’ve had as an early-career developer has been figuring out how to find a project that aligns with my interests as well as the skills that I want to practice. One great resource I've found very helpful with finding answers to my questions is the book Forge Your Future with Open Source, by VM Brasseur.

In this article, I will show you what I’ve learned from VM Brasseur's book about what to consider when I’m determining what open source projects to work on.

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Sharing knowledge: where to hear from our experts

At OmbuLabs one of our core values is Open by Default, which means that we want to have open communications, contribute to open source projects, give back to our community, and become thought leaders in our industry. We also believe that one great way to give back to the community is sharing our knowledge, especially the things that we discover as developers in our day-to-day.

That's why we try to keep consistency in this blog and also encourage every team member to speak at conferences, on podcasts and at meetups. I want to share with you things that are working for us as an "open by default" team.

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Introducing Points - A blind estimation tool from OmbuLabs

At OmbuLabs our goal is always to smooth processes, and make work easier. Isn’t that what software engineering is really all about in the first place?

When we are getting ready to do a project or to make a proposal one of the questions that we are always asked by clients is “how long will it take”? To come up with an estimate on timing we like to use a system of points and blind estimates by multiple team members to find an average of how complex the project will be. We can then use this information, together with our database of delivered projects, to estimate how long the project will take.

To accomplish this, and make the process smoother we built a tool called Points and now we have moved it to open source in case it can be of use to any other teams out there!

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How to Open Source a Private Project

Open Source is one of the things that we value as a company. Our philosophy is that “everything we do should be open by default”. This is why in the past few months we decided to open source two of our internal projects. We built Dash and Points to make our daily processes smoother, and then we thought “hey, why not share them with everyone?”. Now we also want to share the process of how we turned them from private to open source.

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The Value of Internal Projects

With the constant pressure to both find and then execute on client projects, agencies often lose sight of the possibility of working on internal projects. While the initial reaction is often to dismiss them as a distraction from the important client facing work, carefully chosen interal projects can be very valuable. Aside from the obvious benefit of solving internal problems that might not have a readily available solution, they also provide training opportunities for developers. They give you a chance to try new ways of doing things with relatively low risk, or perhaps preview new languages and frameworks you've been considering.

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Introducing Dash - An open source dashboard from OmbuLabs

At OmbuLabs we are always trying to find or create tools to help our processes and workdays run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. For the past few months we have been developing just such a tool, and recently we made it open source. Dash is a dashboard application written in Ruby on Rails that integrates open pull requests and issues from GitHub with Pivotal Tracker stories.

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Tips For Creating Contributor Friendly Open Source Projects

At OmbuLabs we are firm believers of open source. We use open source but also like to contribute back to the community and we have open sourced a few projects.

We know that contributing to open source can be a difficult task so we have been looking for easier ways help to onboard new and past contributors. Here is a list of tips and tools that we believe that can help you make your open source project a more friendly space.

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Contributing To Open Source

Contributing to open source might be scary, you might think that your pull request (PR) is not good enough; that people will judge you by your code; or that fixing that little typo is not worth it.

I had all these questions in my head before I submitted my first contribution to an open source project and it stopped me many times.

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Announcing AfipBill

If you live in Argentina and you ever use AFIP, you should already know that their platform is not the best in terms of user friendliness. We wanted to integrate OmbuShop with AFIP (using their API) in order to generate and print the bills for each seller. Unfortunately, there is no way to do this because the API doesn't generate a printable version (PDF) of the bill.

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Introducing Pecas: Dashboards for Noko

At OmbuLabs we are big fans and happy customers of Noko. We use their widget to track all the hours that we spend on client projects, open source development, and our own products.

Today I'm happy to introduce Pecas, time tracking leaderboards for Noko! Pecas is an open source tool that integrates with your account and generates beautiful leaderboards per project and per teammate.

Here is a sample dashboard for all your projects:

A sample leaderboard in the Pecas web interface

On top of that, it will send you an email alert if you haven't tracked any hours during a work day. If it's a holiday, it won't bother you. :)

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Introducing Infractores

I've always been a big fan of scratching your own itch. My latest itch was the insane amount of parking violations that I see everyday in Buenos Aires, near our office.

We decided to build a simple tool that would allow anyone with a Twitter account to report a parking violation. All you need to do is submit a geolocated tweet and a couple of photos (as evidence!)

Here is an example:

You can check out this tool over here: http://www.infractoresba.com.ar

This page shows all the parking violations reported by users to @InfractoresBA or with the #InfractoresBA hashtag. It's as simple as that.

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Protect your sensitive data in Git

If you are working with open source or if you are going to open source a repository, you should ensure that none of your sensitive data (API Keys, Credentials, Passwords) can be accessed by anyone.

One thing that a lot of people forget, is that this information stay forever in your repository history, if you do not rewrite the history of your repository.

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Adding Docker to a Ruby gem

As a maintainer of a few Ruby gems, I have to decide what is accepted and what gets rejected into the gems. The other day someone submitted a pull request to add a Dockerfile to DatabaseCleaner

I thought it was a good idea, because the current version of DatabaseCleaner requires you to have Postgres, MySQL, Redis, and Mongo up and running before you run rake.

Here are the steps:

  1. Download the Docker Toolbox, a 176+ MB package.

  2. Install the package, which will expand to 400+ MB in your filesystem.

  3. In the terminal: docker-machine start default

  4. Then within your project: docker-compose up (before this I had to run eval "$(docker-machine env default)" because of this issue). Get ready to wait for a few minutes while it sets up your virtual machine.

  5. Finally: docker-compose run --rm gem

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The 7 Days Open Source Challenge

Last Wednesday I gave a lightning talk about open source at the Buenos Aires Ruby Meetup. I proposed a challenge to all attendees: Contribute to one (or many) open source projects for 7 days straight.

The rules are simple:

  • You have to do it for 7 days straight
  • If you can't do it one day, that breaks your streak
  • When you break your streak, you have to start over from day 1
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