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Maintaining An Open Source Project

We currently live in a world where OSS is everywhere, consumable, helpful and can make a positive or negative outcome on the programs we rely on. Strong open source projects can lessen technical debt, increase reusability and discoverability. For the purpose of this guide, we will cover some key principles and practices for managing your open source project effectively.

Whether you are a seasoned developer or just starting out, this guide can be a great place to have all of your steps in place to be successful in the world of open source. Managing an Open Source Project can be a rewarding experience that allows you to collaborate with a global community of technologists.

As a maintainer, you are responsible for overseeing the projects development, maintaining the codebase, resolving issues, completing enhancements, understanding your versioning processes as well as keep your community engaged and productive.

It is a challenging task, but with the right mindset, tools and support, you can help your project thrive and make a positive impact on the open source ecosystem.


Build and nurture relationships with your community members:

  • A successful open source project maintainer and community manager needs to not only build, but maintain relationships with people that care about your project.
  • These include contributors, users and other stakeholders (vendors)

Develop and execute a community strategy:

  • This includes defining goals, identifying target audiences, determining the best channels to reach them (Slack, Discord, GitHub) and developing an action plan to reach the goals

Provide support and Guidance:

  • Maintainers and potential designated community managers need to be able to support their community which include answering questions, addressing concerns and helping resolve conflict/

Community Management:

  • Having a dedicated community manager is essential to maintaining your healthy community
  • This involves organizing events, coordinating efforts with the maintainers and keeping your community engaged and active

Respectful communication:

  • In an open source software community, communication is key and essential to communicate respectfully through forums, chats and emails.
  • Refer to the Covenant Code of Conduct
  • If anyone breaks that code, they should no longer be allowed to work on the project


  • Open Source software development relies of collaboration amongst developers
  • When working with your community, you want to inspire your contributors to achieve your desired outcomes


  • Strong documentation is essential for the success of any open source project. It helps new members of the project to get up to speed quickly and set out your expectations
  • Strong READMEs, Contributing Guides, Issue templates, Community contact forums and beyond ensures that your project is transparent and accessible

Code Review:

  • Code reviews are important for the sustainability and stability of your project
  • You want to ensure the quality of the code to be able to identify and fix any issues before they become major problems Ex: Log4Shell


  • Testing is a key component of open source software development
  • Strong testing components help to show that the software works and is running as expected and free from bugs and errors

Bug Tracking:

  • Bug Tracking is a key component for open source software development to help identify and fix bugs making sure the software is reliable and working as expected
  • Strong SLA and remediation time for reported bugs is crucial to the reliability of the project

Continuous integration and Delivery

  • CI/CD help to streamline the software development process by automating the building, testing and deployment of the software


  • Compliance relies on a strong understanding of licensing requirements
  • It is important to ensure that all code contributed to project is licensed appropriately based on the terms and outcome of the contributing goals

Version Control:

  • Version control is a key component of the development process and community
  • It allows your consumers and contributors to collaborate on code changes, expectations within the consuming projects, track revisions and manage multiple versions of the software

Issue Tracking:

  • Issue tracking helps manage the workflow of the project
  • Issues are clear, identified, prioritized and resolved in a timely manner


  • Mentoring is an important component to the whole process.
  • Maintainers cannot support a large scale project all on their own and it is important to identify strong external contributors to promote to the maintainer role
  • Mentoring and guidance helps onboard new members to the community so that they can learn from their predecessors

Diversity and Inclusivity:

  • Open Source Software communities benefit from D&I
  • It is important to welcome all people from all backgrounds and skill levels to build a great project and credibility for yourself and your endeavors


  • Finally, patience is an important part of navigating the complex space of working in the open and maintaining an open source project.
  • Software development is tricky and it can take time to achieve your desired outcomes
  • It is importance to remain calm and focused when meeting potential persistent challenges and set backs.