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Jan 29, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Are you interested in learning how to code? This is an awesome way to build authentic connections with Github if you are just getting started with programming.

I have been on a quest to conquer the matrix. I have been studying data science with Python and AWS.

On this quest to learn programming you need a lot of tools. Many of these tools are open source.

To write code, you need a text editor. For instance, for Python, there are mainly two roads.

  1. A text editor like Sublime Text
  2. An ultra geek text editor that Morpheus would be proud of.

Sublime Text is not open source though. You need to pay a one-time fee for the license. Or just download it and you can use it for free as long as you want but every time you open it there is a popup that asks if you want to buy it.

Right now we will follow the ultra geek text editor road to build authentic connections using Github, but you can use any other open source tool or open source software package.

The mission is this:

  1. Find an open source tool on Github
  2. Review it and install it
  3. Find the contributors
  4. Send a thank you note to them
  5. Building authentic connections with Github.

Ultra Geek Text Editor

For years I have been using a text editor called Vim.

It’s an editor mostly used by programmers but not all programmers as it has a big learning curve.

It opens through the Terminal, and you cannot use the mouse.

To use Vim you only need to use the keyboard. There are shortcuts to navigate up, down, left, right. Shortcuts to edit text, delete text, copy and paste.

You really wouldn’t be able to copy/paste in the typical Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V way. But you need to use a specific combination of keyboard shortcuts.

If you are familiar with the Terminal. This is the Command Prompt in Windows or the Terminal/Shell on Mac and Linux. And it’s merely a black screen to enter commands and “talk to the computer.”

If I open my Terminal on Linux, it looks like this:


Terminal on Linux


Then to open Vim I just type this on the Terminal:

$ vim

If nothing happens, it means you don’t have it installed.

If you are on the Mac. You can use brew install vim. If you have the homebrew package. Otherwise google: install homebrew on Mac.

If you are on Windows, you need either a virtual machine with Linux. Or install Cygwin, a Linux-like interface for Windows.

Editing Markdown Files Using Vim

I use Vim to edit markdown files. To put it simply. With markdown, you can write HTML without knowing any HTML.

For instance, you can write <h2>Headline 2</h2> which as an H2 headline in this way: ## Headline 2. You are using two hashtags to define this type of headline.

This is an example of a markdown file:

## Headline 2

This is an awesome paragraph. Blabla.
Another line here.

* Bullet point
* Another one

You can also bold something with **2 stars**.

To make your coding life easier. An editor like Sublime Text highlights code to make it easier to read.

The default configuration of Vim doesn’t have this. You need to install it.

With Vim you need to configure plugins to add this functionality.

1. Find An Open Source Tool on Github

I was installing these Vim plugins manually, and it was not the best user experience.

I did a quick google search and found Vundle. I remember using this before, but when I migrated to Linux Fedora, I might have lost this configuration.

Vundle is an open source tool to manage plugins for Vim.

2. Review It and Install It

I followed the instructions to install it and found other plugins.

This is the screenshot on their Github page:


Vundle on Github


The screenshot has what looks a configuration file with a lot of plugins.

I went and looked up many of these plugins to see what they did.

My current configuration file has the following:

Plugin 'VundleVim/Vundle.vim'
Plugin 'godlygeek/tabular'
Plugin 'plasticboy/vim-markdown'
Plugin 'elzr/vim-json'
Plugin 'tomasr/molokai'
Plugin 'flazz/vim-colorschemes'

You don’t have to understand what these plugins do. The goal is that if you are learning to code and you are using an open source tool or a package. Then you can lookup that tool on Github, review it and install it and if it helps you. The least you can do is thank the contributor or contributors to this tool.

3. Find the contributors

I went to lookup the contributors for Vundle.


Vundle Contributors


This project has a lot of contributors so at the moment I would like to thank perhaps the top 3.

I went to the Github profiles for the top 3 contributors and found their contact info.


Vundle Contributor


4. Send a thank you note.

Then I looked them up on Linkedin and sent them a note.


Linkedin invite


“Hey…(more words here). I installed your program and is awesome (more words here)”

5. Building authentic connections with Github

I have these Vim plugins for the open source tool I chose:

Plugin 'VundleVim/Vundle.vim'
Plugin 'godlygeek/tabular'
Plugin 'plasticboy/vim-markdown'
Plugin 'elzr/vim-json'
Plugin 'tomasr/molokai'
Plugin 'flazz/vim-colorschemes'

These are six projects on Github. Each one has a lot of contributors. If I focus on the top three contributors for each project, then I will have 18 authentic connections.

Although if you feel the love. You could connect with more contributors. Just the Vundle project has 56 contributors.

Let’s say that on average a Github project has 20 contributors. I got six projects. Calculator…120 authentic connections.

6. Choose your open source project

The idea is that you are connecting with people that are building things that can help you. And you are thanking them for this.

We are not talking about spamming a bunch of people but of building authentic connections using Github.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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