Hacktoberfest: Giving Back with Open Source Code

Kevin Hamer, Innovation Engineer
Posted on Nov 29, 2018

Software is everywhere: your laptop, tablet, phone. Heck, it’s gotten to your car, cash registers, and thermostats.

And software integrated with all these products brings us to the "Internet of Things" or IoT. Likely first used in 1999, IoT is in everything. But, this software isn't written from scratch. All of these technology items use pieces of software that are given away at no cost for developers to use to develop new software.

DigitalOcean, GitHub, Twilio, and other cloud service companies came together to build a wider community for Hacktoberfest, an event designed around getting users, both existing and new, involved in the community.

This year, the Imarc engineering team really pushed ourselves to get involved more than in years past. In fact, this year we doubled the number of participants.

Why use open source?

First, nearly every piece of software we use today could not be built without freely available, open source software. Windows is built on it. Mac OS is built on it. Google Chrome. Android. iOS. Likely your car is built on it. Maybe even your microwave and dishwasher. In 2018, technology has so many moving parts its impossible for anyone to not rely on open source.

Open source software is community software. It’s better than what we can produce alone. It’s the accumulation of sometimes thousands of people’s efforts across the world.

Let's take as an example. Just some of the available software put to use to power our site include the following: Debian, Linux, Apache, SSH, openssl, PHP, cURL, jquery, Modernizr, Velocity.js, slickjs, easing.js, remodal, flourishlib, gulp, CSScomb, autoprefixer, scssphp, anchor, and PostgreSQL.

In fact, for alone, we use roughly 300 different open source libraries, applications, or services that we rely on so you can view this page. This is just to power the website. There's easily as much software behind every one of our individual laptops, and that much more behind the companies building our laptops. It’d be nearly impossible to build even a single website without using open source.

Why make software free?

The open source community functions more like a science community. By sharing what we’ve done, our work can be tested, reviewed, and improved, for free, by anyone who uses it. (It’s like a free QA team!) Plus, we can learn new ways to use our own code. Lastly, the web development community is freed up to use our work to build even better things that we’ll be able to benchmark or use in the future.

However, this doesn’t affect Imarc’s value in any way. Imarc’s value is being an incredible team that custom builds solutions, not reselling software we built for someone else. We build upon the best software available, including open source, to deliver custom solutions for our clients.

Giving Back

Why get involved in Hacktoberfest? Because we have so much to offer.

Over 400,000 contributions were made this year to roughly a 100,000 different projects. Half of our engineers contributed to a mixture of public projects and open source projects that Imarc engineers created and maintains for the community to use, for free.

Because Imarc’s value isn’t in what we’ve already built, but in what we can build next, it's important for us to give back to the web community, because there's a lot of work we do that others may not achieve.

While it's equally important for these open source projects to look for help in writing documentation, translations, or logo and visual design, we use our expertise to help debug and add features to the software we rely on. And, ultimately, it’s low effort and good practice for us to document and build all our code to a quality that we can share with the community to help make all of our jobs a little easier and to make the world a better place.