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Developing Your Project

Created: Sat Mar 30 2024

Last update: Sat Mar 30 2024

Estimated reading time5 min

You’ve set up your project repository and you’re ready to start developing your own open-source project. This is where the real fun begins!

In this chapter, we’ll cover everything from setting up a collaborative environment, creating comprehensive documentation, and adhering to coding standards. We’ll also discuss managing contributions, version control, security considerations, and building for scalability and performance. By following these best practices, you’ll ensure your open-source project is not only functional but also welcoming to contributors and users alike.



Open-source projects are unique in their approach to software development, balancing the benefits of open collaboration with the need for a coherent and functional codebase. In this chapter, we’ll explore the various aspects of developing an open-source project, starting with the importance of a structured development process.

As usual, we’ll focus on software projects, but many of the principles and practices discussed here can be applied to other types of open-source projects, such as hardware designs, documentation, or data sets. The key is to adapt the guidelines to fit the specific needs of your project.

While it’s not necessary for everyone to have all the elements in place from the start, it’s crucial to understand the principles and best practices that will guide your project. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive guide that can be followed step-by-step, but you can start simple without over-complicating things.

Open-source software presents both challenges and opportunities. The diverse contributions from a global community can lead to innovative solutions and improvements. However, it also requires clear communication channels and a structured approach to managing contributions. By following the guidelines in this chapter, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the unique landscape of open-source development.

Setting Up a Collaborative Environment

Setting Up a Collaborative Environment

In the previous modules, you’ve chosen a repository hosting platform, created a project repository, and created your LICENSE file.

This repository is a little bit empty at the moment, isn’t it? Let’s start by setting up a collaborative environment for your open-source project.

Except if you start your project from scratch based on a new idea, most of the time, your open-source project exists already in a private repository somewhere; either it was a personal project that you decided to open-source, or you’ve been working on it with a small group of collaborators.

For whatever reason, you’ve decided to open it up to the world, and we couldn’t be happier!

The first step is generally to move your content or code to this newly created public repository. This will make it easier for others to find and contribute to your project.

But wait! Before you do that, you might want to clean up your code a little bit and set up some commit messages guidelines before such as Conventional Commits. You won’t regret it!

Everything is ready? Let’s push this first commit to your repository!

It can be a little bit raw at first, but that’s okay. You can always refine it as you go along.

Setting Up a README

Setting Up a README

First things first, you’ll want to create a README file for your project. This file serves as the landing page for your project repository, providing an overview of what your project does, how to use it, and how to contribute.

Creating a Code of Conduct

Creating a Code of Conduct

A code of conduct outlines the expected behavior and values within your project community, promoting a positive and inclusive environment. It’s essential for maintaining a healthy and respectful community of contributors. You can check out our article on How to Create a Code of Conduct for an Open-Source Project for more information.

Creating a CONTRIBUTING File

Creating a CONTRIBUTING File

Now that you have a Code of Conduct in place, you’ll want to create a CONTRIBUTING file. This file outlines the guidelines for contributing to your project, including how to report bugs, suggest new features, and submit code changes.

Spoiler alert: along the way, you’ll see that most of the people will not read it! But that’s okay! Because when they won’t follow the guidelines, you’ll have something to refer to when you’ll provide some feedback without having to remind yourself the rules every time.

Feedback and Support

Feedback and Support

As you open up your project to the community, you’ll start receiving feedback and contributions. It’s essential to provide support and guidance to new contributors, helping them navigate the project and contribute effectively.

  • Enabling issues, setting up issue templates and providing clear instructions on how to report bugs or suggest new features can help streamline the feedback process and ensure that all contributions are valuable.

  • Setting up PR templates can also help guide contributors through the process of submitting code changes, ensuring that all contributions are well-documented and follow the project’s guidelines.

  • Enabling discussions on your repository can also provide a platform for users and contributors to engage with each other, share ideas, and provide feedback on the project.

  • Setting up a dedicated communication channel is also possible such as a Discord server or a mailing list, to facilitate real-time communication and collaboration among contributors. However, it might not be necessary right away so we’ll keep it for later.

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