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I don't know how much guys are aware of "TrailOfView":http://www.trailofview.com/trail/ruby_on_rails What I always wanted to maintain a subject in a form of reading a book. After exploring TOV and using it to the full helped me a lot. Right now me and couple of other guys are maintaing "RubyOnRails":http://www.trailofview.com/trail/ruby_on_rails
I feel contribution in terms of code or helping out how one solved a particular issue or how to install should be more managed and one shall be able to read it all in on place not in 20 tabs open and feeling lost after a while.
I felt "TOV":http://www.trailofview.com/trail/ruby_on_rails approach got it right and one can read there about anything without getting lost as one is reading a book with topics and sub-topics relevant to its topic
Do contribute with us on it
To add to what Kevin said, plugins and gems (I've heard a lot of murmurs going on saying that gems are really the way to go... ) are a good way to test the waters before you make new patches. One instance I noticed awhile ago was someone making a patch to make helpers for all the html tags. Most people felt this to be superfluous and as far as I know, it hasn't been pulled into edge, however, many people encouraged this person to make it into a plugin, those who want rails helpers for html tags would have them, and if it gained popularity and proved to be useful, no doubt it would eventually come into the Rails core.
As far as my own experience goes, let me outline what I do. First, I created a project that is running on edge rails to test things out. Its a good place to look for bugs in the current code and a place to try out new ideas for yourself. Don't be afraid to just dig deep into the rails code and look for goodies. Furthermore, I would scour the open bugs, a lot of people post bugs, but not everyone is fixing or solving them. Make sure you can first repeat the bug in your edge rails project and then look for a solution. Also keep in mind that not every bug is a bug, but sometimes its a problem with the users system (a bug of sorts, maybe not with the Rails core) or it is user error.
Last thought, I encourage any to spend time in the #rails-contrib channel, its not a place to necessarily strike up a conversation, but a great place to see what is the current buzz with Edge, a place to see what patches are being talked about, and a great way to get a feel for the contribution process.
Good luck Martin, look forward to any guides you might produce!
Besides just contributing to the core Rails project, you can contribute to the community by building plugins and other addons (like gems or documentation on strategies and HOWTOs). If you've stumbled on a cool new technique or think you solved a problem, encapsulating it in a plugin is a great way to share it and "give back".
-Kevin Elliott "WeLikeFood Beta":http://www.welikefood.com Discover great restaurants. Discover great food enthusiasts with tastes like yours.
The easiest way to get started is to read "this post":http://edgibbs.com/2007/04/23/josh-susser-on-contributing-to-rails/ pulled together from Josh Sussers talk.
Then head to #rails-contrib and dev.rubyonrails.org and see what there is to work on. Patches with doc changes and extra tests are always easier to get in then functionality.