How to Make an Open-Source Project Successful? My learnings!

Avatar for Prakash Dagwal
Open Source project succesfull

A successful project requires a lot of time and commitment. In the case of an internal project, most likely, a few developers are going to read the code. However, the situation is different when the code is opened for everyone – the world of open-source!

Icecat is an open product content provider. To remain committed to our mission to help shoppers make the most sustainable buying decisions, we have been busy building open-source addons for other popular platforms – Pimcore and Magento 2

As of now, we released three versions of the open-source Pimcore addon supporting complete Open Icecat product content with extensive functionalities to make product management within Pimcore easy, fast, and efficient.  We are now busy building the first version of the Magento 2 open-source addon.

My journey around open-source has been a roller coaster ride – getting nauseous during low points and getting pure satisfaction in seeing our end users being happy – high points! In this post, you will find my learnings and tips:

1. Solve a real problem

The user must have complete control, freedom, and flexibility. For example, in the case of our open-source add-ons, we are trying to solve the fundamental problem – how can the end-user easily import the product content from Icecat and then manage it in their respective PIMs as they wish.

2. Excellent architecture and design

Follow the SOLID principles. Any developer should be able to enhance and add new features with minimum overhead. Create an enjoyable experience!

3. Easy to read and understand

The codebase should be easy to read and understand. Follow the recommended engineering principles in the respective technology specifications. Specify and explain the reasoning behind why certain things have been done in a certain way, keeping in mind other developers’ points of view. At the same time, please do not overdo it.

4. Quality is the key

Maximum code coverage, diverse set of use case scenarios – positive and negative – end-user acceptance testing, anything which minimizes post-release issues, consider it. It may sound like a lot. However, this will reduce pain post-go-live! Use readily available tools and try to automate processes as much as possible. Keep development, testing, and staging environments separate. This helps to detect and fix installation-related issues quickly.

5. Excellent and documentation

The complete guide for technical and business minds. The technical minds should be able to install and configure easily, and the business minds should be able to use the features easily. Again, make an enjoyable experience for both!

6. Build the open-source community

Consider other developers’ feedback and suggestions sincerely and keep them informed. Even if you disagree, give a dignified response. In the end, developers are the first stakeholders of the open-source code.

7. Let the world know

Last but not least, keep the end users informed and take their feedback into account early in the process. This minimizes post-release issues. For example, in the case of our 3 Pimcore addon versions, we haven’t faced any showstopper issues, which was possible due to the direct involvement of our end-users. I am grateful for their feedback!

What are your learnings? I look forward to getting familiar with your learnings and experiences in the open-source world!

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