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My Open Source Journey at GitLab

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My Open Source Journey at GitLab

The Beginning 🔥

My journey with GitLab began in early 2021. As a software engineer passionate about coding and community collaboration, I was always fascinated by the impact of open-source projects. The idea that my contributions could help shape tools used by thousands of developers around the world was both exciting and humbling.

Back then I was in my junior year of university pursuing computer science engineering and decided to learn Ruby after trying countless technological stacks.

Contributing to large open-source projects? Been there, done that. Here’s my go-to game plan:

  1. First stop, the project's README file. It’s your roadmap.
  2. Get the gist. Is it worth your time?.
  3. Peek at recent commits. Is the project alive and kicking?.
  4. Filter issues using labels.
  5. Read the issue multiple times and if you understand 60% of it then go ahead.
  6. Only focus on that part of code which is related to the issue. This is very important!
  7. Make sure no one else is working on that and ask the maintainers to assign it to you.
  8. Make changes.
  9. Create the pull request.
  10. Ask for review.
  11. Iterate.

And that, my friends, is how you get started and make an impact 🚀

First Contribution 💯

As I was learning Ruby on Rails, I thought the best way to learn was by working on open-source projects. GitLab is built using Rails, so I decided to start contributing to GitLab.

My first Merge Request was merged on February 4, 2021, and you'll see how I struggled to make the simple changes. This is completely normal. As you make more and more contributions, you will start to get comfortable with the codebase and the best coding practices.

First merge request merged
First merge request merged

GitLab Hero 🦊

After 3 months of contributions I became a GitLab Hero on April 27, 2021.

GitLab Hero
GitLab Hero

I truly enjoyed contributing to GitLab and I decided to continue. I really loved the GitLab's mission:

We at GitLab believe that all digital products should be open to contributions; from legal documents to movie scripts, and from websites to chip designs.

Google Summer of Code 🏖️

While I was contributing to the GitLab project, summer rolled around again. Having previously worked under the Google Summer of Code 2020 program, I was eager to participate once more in 2021 program. I applied and was accepted, and my project was to improve backup and restore process.

You might be wondering, what on earth is that magical thing?

Google Summer of Code is a global, online program focused on bringing new contributors into open source software development. GSoC Contributors work with an open source organization on a 12+ week programming project under the guidance of mentors. Back then it was only meant for students and I was in third year of my undergraduate degree.

Restart ❤️‍🔥

In 2022, I moved to Bangalore 🇮🇳 and worked for a few seed-funded startups. Life happened, and I found myself going through a difficult phase in my personal life, which made me stop contributing to open source projects. Despite the challenges, I knew deep down that coding and contributing to open source were my true passions.

In 2023, I relocated to Berlin 🇩🇪 to work as a backend engineer. As I settled into my new job and life in a new city, I felt a renewed sense of determination. In November 2023, I decided to start contributing to GitLab again. GitLab was built on Rails, and since we were using Rails in my current job, it felt like the perfect opportunity to dive back in. No matter what obstacles I faced, I convinced myself to persevere because this is what I love to do.

It was a long time since I touched the repository so I updated my forked repository again and jumped in. I absolutely love the fact that how well the local development setup is written and maintained. Thank you GitLab maintainers.

Here are the two links I found most helpful:

Even with a full-time job, I decided to contribute to the project because it helped me escape from my personal life problems, even if just for a bit. It was challenging, working late into the night after my regular job, but I managed to do it. It gave me a sense of purpose and comfort during this time and other than that I love it.

Level 3 Contributor ✈️

December 2023 was passing by and I had close to 28 merge requests merged into GitLab. On December 20, 2023 I woke to an email "gitlab-org awarded you the Level 3 Contributor achievement!".

Wider community member with 26 to 75 merge requests in projects forming part of the GitLab product gets the level 3 contributor achievement.

Words couldn't capture how joyful I felt.

Most Valuable Person 🏆

I kept up my contributions, thoroughly enjoying the process, until the day arrived. By then, I had already resolved 7 issues under the 16.10 milestone. Christina from the Tenant Scale team at GitLab nominated me for the MVP award. Each month GitLab recognizes one or more community contributors as GitLab MVPs ("Most Valuable Persons") to be featured in the GitLab release post.

I would like to nominate @imskr for helping out with adding several API enhancements in %16.10. This effort helps to close some gaps in our API offering. Shubham has been moving these issues along very quickly, which is extremely helpful to the team, since we would not be able to invest in these efforts ourselves at the moment.

  • Christina Lohr, Senior Product Manager at GitLab

I wasn't selected for the award, yet I found great happiness in the recognition of my three years of contributions.

I continued my contributions, increasingly focusing on projects, groups, and member APIs as I delved deeper into their development. As time went on, I celebrated the merging of my 50th merge request, feeling a deep sense of accomplishment. This was a big milestone for me as I never imagined that I would contribute to almost over 50 issues.

It was May 24, 2024 and I received a notification from GitLab that I was nominated again for MVP 17.1 milestone. It was beyond my wildest dreams to be nominated again, and I was filled with immense gratitude for the recognition of my contributions.

Shubham has helped with a lot of issues over the past weeks and months, specifically around gaps in our API offering. I cannot write release posts fast enough for all the additions that @imskr is pushing through. Take a look at the list of Shubham's contributions here, as there are too many to list here 😄

  • Christina Lohr, Senior Product Manager at GitLab

And this time I got selected for the award and I was really really happy. You can read more about it here.

MVP 17.1 release
MVP 17.1 release

The D-Day 📨

On February 22, 2024, I woke up to an email that fulfilled a lifelong dream for me. I had never imagined that I could turn my hobby into a full-time job. It was a surreal moment, as I had always viewed my contributions as a hobby rather than a career path.

Opportunity at GitLab
Opportunity at GitLab

I took this opportunity as this is what I have always dreamt of. July 1, 2024 my first day at GitLab as an Intermediate Backend Engineer.

July 1st 2024
July 1st 2024

Timeline 💫

It all started in 2021

सब कुछ 2021 में शुरू हुआ


My journey
My journey

Thank you GitLab 🙇🏻‍♂️

As I conclude this journey, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the GitLab maintainers and engineers. Your guidance and support have been invaluable every step of the way. From my first humble contribution to this moment, where my passion has become my profession, your dedication to open-source and mentorship has shaped my path. Here's to the future, filled with continued growth and collaboration. Thank you, GitLab community, for making this dream a reality.

Open Sourcerer

You can check all of my contributions at GitLab.

If you have any questions or need guidance on starting your own contributions, please feel free to ask in the comments below. I'm here to help!

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