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Jonathan Irvin
Jonathan Irvin

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Jelly Fin: Open Source From Scratch, What I've Learned So Far

It's a bit much

While I can say I've created a few public repos on GitHub here and there, I wouldn't really call them "open source" even though they technically are.

Jelly Fin is my first real open source project. This is the one I'm going to build. My README will be polished, my contributors will be like family, and the app itself will be an example for others: code coverage, maintainability, a word, badass.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows. It's work. Here are some things I've picked up along my journey so far.

Image is everything

We're literally starting from scratch and the number one question we're getting is "How can I help?". That's amazing. The amount of people that have joined our chat server is more than I ever imagined. I attribute a lot of that to marketing.

Having a README is one thing, but it's more than that. It's your landing page. It's the first thing people see when they look at your repo on Github. It's the first line of defense when it comes to documentation. You have to explain the whole universe in one short document.

I took a template online and adapted it. Will it change more in the future? Most definitely.

Best practices really help

Remember that one thing your mentor told you would be a good idea? Do it. Tests, build process, documentation, etc. I care more about doing it right than doing it fast and sloppy. I started this project to make an app and I can't bring myself to slap it together. I want it to be an example.

Interest is like a flash fire

There was a lot of initial interest and then that interest waned. Why? I feel like I wasn't prepared for it. I had chat in place, good enough documentation, but not a fertile enough ground for people who want to jump in and submit a pull request. What's the incentive? A personal finance app is anything short of exciting, but it's useful and we will use cool tech to make it happen!

A shared vision goes a long way

One thing that helped was a couple of folks with a shared vision. We wanted to do this because it was a thing that needed doing, and right! We're solving problems to make it easier on others to develop the app, but focusing less on just working on actual coding velocity. I like this. I'm big on design-focused development. Planning really makes for a solid app.

I wish I could talk to you all more

Some days I feel like I can't reach everyone that showed interest, so maybe I should take a passive approach. So, I'm trying something new. Hit me up on Twitter @sublimegeek or WhatsApp. I want to meet you all and find out what appeals to you about this project? What do you like to do? What is your favorite color?

Finally, patience.

Rome wasn't built in a day. Every conversation is a step in the right direction. Every commit, every pull request, and every time someone opens an issue because they couldn't get the project to build. It warms my heart.

I feel like I could be doing more, coding more, doing all of the things, but I was recently grounded by one, simple phrase:

The hardest thing about being you is going to be realizing that you need to code less sometimes and spend your time with your volunteers.


I want to thank everyone so far that has shown interest in Jelly Fin, joined our Discord, submitted an issue, submitted a Pull Request, and supported me.

Don't go anywhere! We're just getting started. If you want to help and don't know how, message me. We're one of the most welcoming bunch.

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