Giving Back to Open Source

Giving Back to Open Source

July 19, 2018 By Jake

When is the last time, if any, you gave back to the Open Source Community?  The community that makes the software that lets you make a living. I had to honestly ask myself this question after finishing the project WooCommerce and Timber / Twig.  I am as guilty as many others are of taking for granted the free software the community provides.

After my struggle with completing this project, I knew others probably tried and either failed or succeeded. I read some posts, where the developer “gave up” on incorporating Timber and WooCommerce due to the time it was taking.  I can understand that.  But for those who succeeded, did you share your success?

I know we are all busy, sometimes I work 12-14 hour days, and it is hard to find time to give back.  But for myself, I have decided to change that. I need to and will give back.  I came back into the developing world after leaving the hosting world.  I was lured back in by a project I am involved in with 3 other developers.  I fell in love with development again when I was introduced to Timber.

Over 80% of my business right now uses the Timber/Twig framework.  I rely on it daily.  I have a need for documentation and integration.  Not just the basic starter template, but integration with payment processors, plugins such as WooCommerce, and integration with other core WordPress functions.

When I ran into difficulty with the WooCommerce integration, I felt a little angry, knowing that someone, somewhere has done this and did not share the code or procedure. Then when I was looking for information in GitHub or Googling for a clue, I would run across users and developers asking questions in forums or submitting issues in GitHub, of issues I had solved but did not share.  I was just as guilty as those I was charging.

So I sent an email off to the main developer of Timber and told him I wanted to give back. I received an auto-reply that he was on family leave for 4 more weeks.  But true to my desire to give back, I answered a question from another developer having issues with Timber and WordPress comments.  I had solved this issue previously, so I posted my code in the comments section to share it.

I found several WordPress support groups on Facebook, that were not centered around one person or agency making money, but where users and developers helped each other out.  I started assisting others in those groups.  When the developer of Timber did return from family leave, he did write me back. I have taken on some tasks with Timber to give back.

I am sharing the code for my integrations. I am writing step by step documentation on my integrations that can be utilized by other developers and understood by even novice users.

It does take some time, but in the long run, I fell it will pay back more than I give.  I believe that WordPress is going to have to pick a template framework to use soon, just like Drupal did in choosing Twig. As WordPress adds a new editor and other functions, something has to be done to make sure that the core CMS is fast.  I hate to see WordPress suffer from not using a template framework. I am hoping that when they do, it will be Timber/Twig.

I am starting to stress to my clients to give back also.  To agree that it is a good thing to share the code of a new integration that they paid for.  I remind them that when I started in this industry, users would “lease” CMS systems for  $1500 a month.  Today, you get a CMS system that is 50 times more powerful, for FREE!  To keep it that way, it is imperative that you, as a client, also give back.

Every morning during the week, I meet in a video chat room with other developers.  We share any new integrations we have solved or integrations currently working on. Sharing is the core of Open Source. To the developers who write the software or major integrations, I salute you.  You do so with little or no compensation.  You work another full-time job to support your family, but also find the time to support the Open Source family.

It is time for the rest of us, to give back and assist.