Contributing to OSS - The 8 Steps for Fixing Other People’s Code

Dr. Nic Williams (Stark & Wayne)
Location: Room 309- 310 Level: Novice
Average rating: **...
(2.83, 24 ratings)

What’s the best way to prepare for a wonderful RailsConf 2010? There is
nothing better than meeting other open source hackers and learn their ways.

Initially I thought “Open Source Software” meant “Free Stuff”. The old cliche
“You get what you pay for” could never be more true than for free open source software. Many libraries only work under best circumstances, have bugs, no support for edge cases, and sometimes the original author has moved on and doesn’t care about the library.

It’s time to step up your game as a professional software developer. You’re
only an Open Source “user” if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves,
find the original source, and bust out some improvements. When it comes to
bugs: finders, keepers. You found it, please fix it. Please. It’s the champion thing to do.

But how? Where do you start? You’ve never contributed to someone’s project
before. How do you get the source, get the dependencies, run the test suite?
How do you share your changes? Will the maintainer want your patch?
Can you find the maintainer? How do you take over maintenance of an
abandon project. Even for a while.

This workshop will get you started in Open Source development and give
you a great chance to meet and bond with other Open Source developers
and give you a wonderful kick start into RailsConf and beyond.

Note: A laptop is required for this tutorial

Photo of Dr. Nic Williams

Dr. Nic Williams

Stark & Wayne

Dr Nic has written, maintained and contributed to over a 100 open source projects, across the languages/domains of Ruby, JavaScript, Objective-C and TextMate bundles. He is VP Technology at Engine Yard and is responsible for its large Open Source program.

Dr Nic has been presenting at International Conferences since 2007,
including RailsConf, RubyConf, RailsConf Europe, QCON, JAOO, RubyEnRails,
Rails Underground, Rails Summit Latin America, RubyConf Europe, RubyFools,
OSDC, and RailsCamp.

He is Australian and thinks he is funny.

co-presented by Ruby Central, Inc. O'Reilly
  • Engine Yard
  • Heroku
  • 8th Light
  • Blue Box Group
  • InfoEther
  • JetBrains
  • New Relic
  • Open Hosting
  • Rhomobile
  • WyeWorks
  • Linux Pro Magazine
  • Chargify

Sponsorship Opportunities

For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at RailsConf, contact Yvonne Romaine at

Download the RailsConf Sponsor/Exhibitor Prospectus

Media Partner Opportunities

For information on trade opportunities with O'Reilly conferences or contact mediapartners@

Program Ideas

Send us your suggestions for speakers, topics, and activities to

Press and Media

For media-related inquiries, contact Maureen Jennings at

RailsConf Newsletter

To stay abreast of conference news please sign up for the RailsConf newsletter (login required)

Contact Us

View a complete list of RailsConf 2010 contacts.