Having identified a contribution you think you can usefully make to a project, how are you actually going to make it?
For nearly every project, the best first step is:
Talk to somebody about it¶
You may have been eating, sleeping, dreaming and otherwise living your idea for days, but until you discuss it, no-one else knows anything about it. To them, your patch will come flying out of the blue.
You need - usually - to introduce your idea, and - particularly if you’re new to the community - yourself.
In the case of Django, this will typically mean posting to the Django Developers email list, firstname.lastname@example.org (sign up at http://groups.google.com/group/django-developers), or raising it on #django-dev on irc.freenode.net.
Quite apart from letting people know about what you have to offer, it’s an opportunity to get some feedback on your proposal.
Don’t automatically expect your proposal to be considered a great idea. Be prepared to explain the need it meets and why you think your solution is a good one. Be prepared to do some more work.
Above all, you will need to be patient, polite and persistent.
If one doesn’t exist already, lay down a formal public marker raising the issue your contribution addresses. In Django’s case, this will be a ticket on https://code.djangoproject.com/. For others, it’s likely to be an issue on GitHub or whatever system they use. Mention your earlier discussion!
Do your homework¶
Every project has its standards for things like code and documentation, and its ways of working. They tend to follow a general pattern, but they often have their own little quirks or preferences - so learn them.
If you think that sounds tedious, it’s nothing compared to the potential pain of having to manage or use code and documentation written according to the individual preferences of all its different contributors.
Note that the Django Project’s Git guidelines ask contributors to use
rebase - which is firstly a little unusual, and secondly explained in the
documentation above better than I can here - so read that.
And be prepared to get it wrong the first few times, and even the subsequent ones. It happens to everyone.
Now you can make your pull request. Having prepared the way for it, and having provided the accompaniments - tests and documentation - that might be required, it has a good chance of enjoying a smooth passage into the project.
What to start with?¶
Documentation! It’s the easy way in.
Everyone loves documentation, and unlike code where incompleteness or vagueness can make it worse than useless, documentation has to be really quite bad to be worse than no documentation.
What’s more, writing documentation will help you better understand the things you’re writing about, and if you’re new to all this, that’s going to put you in a better position to understand and improve code.
Some suitable Django Project tickets¶
Have a look at one of the tickets specially selected for people doing this tutorial. They’re not all for documentation, though most are.