Good open-source projects for new contributors?

Which open-source projects you would recommend for someone relatively new to OpenStreetMap community where they can usefully contribute?

Ideally these would be ones where

  • multiyear experience in OpenStreetMap community is not really needed
  • project is not bottlenecked at reviewing PRs (in such case more effort at writing PRs or patches would not really help)
  • does not require esoteric or extremely advanced knowledge
  • has decent guidance how new people can contribute
  • is useful for OSM, and preferably in active use
  • ? something else ?

I think about either listing some projects fitting this criteria at Develop - OpenStreetMap Wiki or linking this thread


It isn’t quite writing code, but I found contributing to NSI quite easy to get started with. Especially for me since I was learning Git too, and the actual edits were easy for me.


If someone has graphic design skills or is interested in the mapmaking side of OSM on a project that’s just starting, OSM Americana would be happy to have the help!


I’d think organising any list by language/skills would be useful; if you’re an iOS Swift developer then you probably won’t be too interested in contributing to the Ruby on Rails codebase behind, and so on.

The point about experience is well-made - editors in particular can require quite a lot of OSM knowledge, though these days I would defer to people like @tyr_asd and @SimonPoole on that.

For Python developers I’d strongly suggest Nominatim; for C++ I would naturally suggest tilemaker (and OSRM, but that requires pretty specialist algorithm knowledge); for a Ruby dev, and in particular a fullstack-focused Rails dev, there’s quite a few low-hanging fruit on openstreetmap-website.


How about “documentation around other stuff that already exists”?

There are plenty of places where we’re absolutely trying to write things that are usable by “ordinary people” but what is written down is either (a) out of date or (b) well meaning but ineffective.

As an example, “how do I find X in OSM data” is probably going to involve Overpass at some point, yet the wiki and other information that we have is … not great.

“Adding documentation” has the advantage that we’re not waiting for a functional review of PRs.


Also, people relatively new to various things know better what is confusing for newcomers than experts.


The problem with documentation contributions is that unless the content has been outlined in advance (and it typically isn’t), it requires quite a bit of expertise and ability to understand nuances behind the existing choices, technical limitations, etc. So it kind of goes against the principle in the OP:

But this means there is also a good opportunity for experts who know what needs to be documented but don’t have the bandwidth to actually do that themselves, to outline the documentation needs so that others can take them on.