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Introduction to Contributing to Apache OpenOffice

In this Orientation Module you will gain basic familiarity with the Apache Software Foundation and how it works, get signed up for various important online project services, and introduce yourself to the other volunteers on the project's mailing mailing list.

Level 1 is focused on connecting you to the project.

If you have prior experience with an open source software project, especially one at Apache, then much of this will already be familiar to you.

  1. Introduce yourself to the other project Volunteers by sending an email to our main public mailing list dev@openoffice.apache.org. Who are you, where are you from, what are you interested in? These are all good things to cover. Also, as you work through the items on this page, if you have questions or problems, please feel free to ask for help by sending a note to this list.

  2. It is important that you understand a little about the Apache Software Foundation and OpenOffice, what it is, how it is organized and how the Apache OpenOffice Project fits into the overall Foundation. This is partially organizational knowledge and a little history. But it is important for understanding how things work here, and understanding the culture of this open source community. Suggested readings are:

    1. How It Works (to learn about how the ASF is organized and how its meritocracy works)
    2. ASF FAQ's (browse to see if it answers any questions you might have)
    3. OpenOffice Wikipedia article (for basic historical background)
    4. 14 Ways to Contribute to Open Source without Being a Programming Genius or a Rock Star
  3. As a globally-distributed all-volunteer open source project, there is never a time or place where we can all meet together in the same room or even on a telephone call. Because of this, and out of respect for everyone's busy and varying schedule, we use mailing lists to coordinate our work, make proposals, gather consensus and resolve community issues. There are three mailing lists that every Volunteer should be on:

    1. dev This is the main mailing list for the project, and gets a lot of traffic. But this is where project-wide discussions occur.
    2. announce This is the official announcement list for the project. It is used for announcing things like new releases, security patches, conferences, etc.
    3. users This is our users list and is one way in which we provide support to end users. Although you may not be interested specifically in user support, it is still recommended that you follow this list, even if just to get a feel for user concerns, problems, feature ideas, etc.
  4. You can also review other mailing lists we host and which may be of interest, including ones focused on specific project functions and native languages.

  5. A useful shortcut notation you will often see on the lists. Writing a list name in full, like dev@openoffice.apache.org can be tedious. So you will often see it called just "dev". Similarly, top-level lists like trademarks@apache.org are often referred to as "trademarks@". This shortcut can be used to refer either to the mailing list and to the team that operates the mailing list. The context should make it clear, e.g., "You should check with trademarks@ on whether this will be problem".

  6. One of the first practical tests each Volunteer faces is dealing with the volume of emails that comes from participation in an open source project like this. A good email client for this kind of work will support folders, rule-based folder assignments, and most importantly quote collapsing. A common practice is to make a separate folder for each Apache mailing list and define a rule to move incoming emails directly into that folder. If you have a question on how to configure your email client to do these things, try your help files, or a web search first, and if that fails post a question to the dev list.

  7. Because our mailing lists can be busy, and we're not all native English speakers, and because email text is a crude medium which makes it hard to express nuanced emotions, we need to be careful and tolerant in how we use it. Please read over our Participation Guidelines and List Conduct Guidelines for more information.

  8. From Karl Fogel's book "Producing Open Source Software" read through "You Are What You Write" and "Avoiding Common Pitfalls".

  9. Aside from the mailing lists there are several online services that every volunteer should be signed up for:

    1. Our MediaWiki (sometimes called MWiki) used for user documentation and many other things.
    2. Our ConfluenceWiki (sometimes called CWiki) where we do project planning.
    3. Our Bugzilla database (sometimes called BZ) where we report and track status on bugs.
    4. Our Community Forums These are available in several languages. This is the primary way in which we engage with the user community.
    5. Join our Social Networks
  10. Finally, once you have done the above, go to our our Directory of Volunteers wiki page and add your information. Congratulations! Please send a note to dev@openoffice.apache.org so we know.

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