We are big fans of open source software for a number of reasons. There's no vendor lock-in. The software tends to be written to suit real-world needs. Because there are no "black boxes," you can change it to suit your needs. And the price is tough to beat.
But the biggest benefit of choosing open source is community. Bug fixes and feature enhancements made by one user are contributed back so that everyone can benefit. Organizations with limited resources can combine their efforts to achieve mutual goals. A healthy ecosystem of developers and service providers ensures you'll never end up with a system no one but the creator can understand.
Read on to learn about how Ginkgo Street Labs is involved in the CiviCRM community, and you can be too!
Get Help Fast
Got a question someone could answer in two minutes that would save you two hours? Pop into CiviCRM's IRC channel and ask away. You can find us in there most days; ping us at GinkgoFJG or GinkgoMZD.
If your question is a little too detailed for real-time chat, check out the forums. There's a pretty good chance someone has already asked (and answered!) your question. If not, ask away! We moderate the CiviVolunteer forum, so don't be surprised to see us there.
Join the DC CiviCRM Users' Group
Anyone involved in activism will tell you you can't do everything from your computer. The DC CiviCRM Users' Group meets every six weeks or so and is a great place to meet other folks who are using CiviCRM. Find out how other organizations are using CiviCRM to meet their needs, get a sneak peek at the features in the next release, or bring your ideas about what Civi could do better.
You can find us at most of the meetings — especially if it's our turn to organize! The meetings vary in location and day of the week to maximize accessibility, and attendees vary from first-time user to hardcore programmer contributing code to core. Meetings are listed on CiviCRM's events page along with conferences, trainings, and other events.
Improve the Code
Last but not least — hey, we are talking about a software application, right? — contributing to the code base is a great way to get involved with the CiviCRM community.
If you've been around the CiviCRM community for a bit, you might have heard about the epic code sprints that coincide with the annual conferences. Just what is a code sprint?
As you might have guessed, it doesn't involve track shorts. A bunch of programmers get together, agree on some goals, and geek out hardcore for a few days. The output may be a bug fix, a usability improvement, or a brand new feature, but these are not as valuable as the less obvious results of a code sprint.
Sprinters leave with exposure to new areas of the code base, a better understanding of best practices, and new ways to approach problems. It's like a new generation of CiviCRM developers is released into the wild. Code sprints are the best way to collaborate with the most expert CiviCRM developers, and we recommend them to anyone interested in getting more involved in the project.Head over to our Projects Page to find out our recent code contributions to the CiviCRM community. Hope to see you at a CiviCRM event or forum soon!