Are you looking for an opportunity to get more experience as a developer? Make meaningful connections with the community? Learn the best practices on how to maintain a large codebase?

What if you could get that experience by contributing to an open source project like Rails?

If that sounds scary, don’t worry! We can help you!

By the end of this post, you’ll learn 5 ways to become a new Rails contributor, even if you are a beginner. Plus, you will find answers to the some questions you probably have.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

5 ways to contribute to Ruby on Rails as a beginner

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5 ways to contribute to Ruby on Rails as a beginner

Highlights from the Open Source Thursdays Session with Rafael França

Rafael França is a Rails Core team member and he shared some tips for people that want to contribute to Ruby on Rails.

Below, you can find his answers to some of the questions asked by the community during the live stream.

Would love to get started contributing to the Rails project but don’t know where to start?

Question: [at 8:13] Would love to get started contributing to the Rails project but I don’t know how. How should I do it?

Don’t know how to suggest a new feature? Open an issue in the Rails repository or post a topic on the Rails forum?

Question: [at 19:23] If I want to suggest a feature, should I open an issue in the Rails repository or post a topic on the Rails forum?

How can we get feedback on ongoing issues and Pull Requests more quickly?

Question: [at 54:58] Often getting a response for a contribution takes weeks. How can we effectively get feedback on ongoing issues or Pull Requests?

Rails is maintained by volunteers and most of them work on it during their free time. So it might take some time. Ask or comment on the issue or PR to get an answer.

If it’s a Pull Request, you can post the link on Rails Forum to bring attention.

Before you ask for feedback or code reviews, it’s a good idea to make sure that:

  • tests are passing
  • documentation is updated
  • if it’s an bug/issue, can you try to fix it yourself?
  • if you don’t know how to fix the code, can you write a Reproduction Script or create Reproduction Steps?
  • make it easier for people to accept your PR: give them the code, Reproduction Steps, that the code consists of a small number of code changes
  • explain and add details so reviewers can understand the impact of your changes: does it affect all Rails applications or only some of them?

The whole point is to make it easier for reviewers to accept your changes.

Issues and PRs that follow these guidelines grab more attention than the ones that don’t have a lot of feedback, no comments, tests are broken, and the Rails team doesn’t know if the concept is good or not.

Which part of the Ruby on Rails project is the best for a beginner to get started with? Changing the Rails Guides or Documentation, Active Record, or something else?

Question: [at 59:15] Which part of the project should I work on first: Rails Guides & Documentation, Active Record, Action Mailer, or something else?

What if there is someone else already working on the issue?

Question: [at 1:04:36] How can I know if there is someone else already working on the issue, and what should I do if that happens?

How do you know if you should run all tests or just some of them?

Question: [at 1:07:39] How do I know if I need to run all Rails tests or just some of them?


If you feel overwhelmed or paralyzed when you get to the Ruby on Rails GitHub repo, you’re not alone. That’s why we created Open Source Thursdays in the first place: to guide you on your developer journey!

Bookmark this post and use it as a reference! Share it with someone who wants to get started with Open Source!

Send us a DM on Twitter when you get started and let us know if we can support you.

We will have more sessions with experts in the future. Sign up for our mailing list to get the invitations: 👇


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