Brian Riehman

Open source contributions

I had a small achievement the other day when I made my first effort to contribute to an open source project. We use spotbugs in several of our tools at work to perform static analysis and inform us of potential issues. We had an issue with the tool attempting to process resource files that were included on our CLASSPATH. When spotbugs encountered non-class files, it printed a long stacktrace that did not cause the tool to fail but it certainly appeared so from the output.

I had done some Google searching and discovered an issue had been logged for this problem already. On digging into the code, I felt that I could actually fix the issue myself. A short time later, I had a checkout of spotbugs that I installed locally and verified my fix squelched the verbose output. Great, but now what? We try and give back, that’s what!

I opened a pull request, worked with the maintainers to come up with the best solution, and my change was accepted shortly after. How exciting! It’s just like the feeling of fixing an issue for a user that makes their day better. I was happy to be able to solve my own problem and give back to a tool that we use.

Encouraged by this interaction, I am trying to do the same with FitNesse. An incident logged several years ago has resurfaced and causes an error page when saving in certain circumstances. Instead of logging the issue and leaving it at that, I submitted a pull request that details the original issue and when it was reintroduced. I hope to be able to help out here as well!

I hope I have more opportunities to try and contribute to open source projects that we use. It feels good being part of a community!