Contribute Software
Other ways to Contribute

Other ways to Contribute

You don't have to be a software developer to contribute to the Alternate Route Project. Here are some great ways to contribute the Alternate Route Project so the entire bridge engineering community can benefit.

Contribute by Helping Your Neighbor

  • Tell your neighbors about the Alternate Route Project. They might not know about it.
  • Give your neighbor a copy of an Alternate Route software program.

Contribute by Developing Software

  • License your existing bridge engineering software with the Alternate Route Open Source License.
  • Pick a project on the Wish List and build it
    • Do the work yourself
    • Hire a contractor
    • Sponsor a professor and some graduate students at a local university
  • Find an ongoing project and ask what you can do to help

Contribute by Helping Software Developers

  • Actively participate in the early development of a program by helping to define what the program is supposed to do and how it is supposed to do it.  A successful program satisfies the needs of its users.  Help make the program great from the start by articulating your needs to the developers before a lot of energy is wasted creating the wrong program.
  • Be proactive with new software.  Evaluate early releases.  Give developers lots of meaningful feedback and constructive comments.
  • If you are a knowledgeable user of a piece of software, ease the support burden of the developers by helping other users.  This is easily done by participating in newsgroup discussions, mailing lists, or manning a support e-mail account.  Ask the developer of your favorite open source program what you can do to help.
  • Help test software.  Testing is an expensive and difficult process and developers with small budgets can use all the help they can get.
  • Instead of creating a derivative work on your own, contract with the original author of a piece of software to add custom features.  In fact, this might be the most economical way to create a custom version of a program.

Contribute by Promoting Open Source Software and the Alternate Route Project

  • Follow WSDOT's lead and make it your policy to prefer the use of open source software.
  • Be an advocate for open source software.  Find reasons to make it work, not reasons why it wont.

Contribute by Being an Entrepreneur

  • Publish an article or write a book
  • Create value added open source distributions and distribute them for a fee (for more information on the ecomomics of open source software, read "The Magic Cauldron" by Eric S. Raymond).
  • Create training courses for open source applications
  • Create training courses to help developers get started
  • Most importantly, re-invest your profits back into the creation of open source bridge engineering software.

Contribute by Being an Informed Consumer

  • When obtaining open source software for a fee, get it from a distributor who is putting the proceeds back into the development of open source software.
  • Don't buy your open source software from a distributor who hordes the profits.
  • Be an informed consumer, ask questions.

Contribute by Being Good Neighbor

  • Don't be cheap.  If someone is creating open source bridge engineering software at their own expense and distributing it for a fee, be a good neighbor and reward them for the hard work; pay their fee.
  • Get your open source distributions from the original author, don't tolerate cheap imitations that fail to offer any additional value to the bridge engineering community.
  • If you are going to develop open source software, don't waste resources by forking a project. Do something original, or make value added contributions to an ongoing project.

Contribute by Getting Creative

  • I'm sure there many more ways to contribute that I haven't mentioned here. Get Creative.
  • One creative way might be to buy developement tools and give them away to developers who can't afford the "price of admission".
  • Donate time, materials, hardware, programmers.

Open Source software is successful when unselfish contributions are made for the benefit of the community. Let your conscience be your guide. It is better to give than to receive. To maximize what you receive, maximize what you give.

Copyright 1999-2000, Washington State Department of Transportation