The Apache Software Foundation

Community > Code


This set of frequently asked questions is intended to help newcomers to The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) and our many Apache projects understand how we work.

Index of Questions

We are always looking for suggestions of better ways to help newcomers to the ASF find the information they’re looking for. Please ask questions or give us suggestions on dev@community.apache.org (subscribe with dev-subscribe@community.apache.org first).

About The Apache Software Foundation

What projects can I find in The Apache Software Foundation?

There are over 200 separate projects and communities hosted at The Apache Software Foundation. We have four classes, or types, of project (in terms of their community; not in terms of technology):

How are projects managed in The Apache Software Foundation?

Apache project participants all believe that if we look after the community then good code will emerge from that community. That is, when people with similar needs come together they will work out a way of solving their common problems. For this reason we created the Community Development project (where you are right now). The ASF has grown to be very large and, from the outside, can look too mature for newcomers and novices. However, these communities seek to be flat in structure. No single person in any community has more influence than the next; a newcomer with a good idea has just as much input and influence as the original creator of the project.

We do have a system, meritocracy, that allows those who have demonstrated commitment and understanding to the community to earn certain privileges, such as being able to make changes directly to documentation and program code. However, these privileges simply streamline the process; they do not (in most cases) give additional powers over the project.

In summary, Apache projects work because people like you participate constructively within them!

To learn more about “The Apache Way” in general see the How It Works pages. We also have detailed overviews of how the ASF and projects are governed.

How do I learn about the way Apache projects work?

Consider applying to the Apache Mentor Programme. We will help you find a mentor within the project of your choice. They will take you through a semi-formal mentoring programme that will ensure you quickly find your feet. There is no cost other than a promise to commit some of your time to the goals you set with your mentor.

How do I ask a question about the ASF in general?

The Community Development Project is here for this very purpose. Check out the resources on this site first. If you don’t find the answer to your question, send an email to dev@community.apache.org (subscribe first by sending a mail to dev-subscribe@community.apache.org.

How do I get user support for an ASF project?

Everyone active in ASF projects is here as a volunteer. You need to be careful not to waste people’s time, so do your homework. Generally, if people can see that you have tried to solve your problem before asking for help they are more likely to respond. So, before asking a question do the following:

If you don’t find a solution then send a concise, but detailed, request for support to the appropriate user@ mailing list (you will usually need to subscribe first). Indicate that you have read the appropriate documentation and explain what you have tried, what you expect to happen and what actually happens. All Apache projects should have a “Mailing List”, “How to Contribute” or similar link on their home page that tells you how to subscribe to that project’s specific lists. Mailing lists at Apache are also publicly archived at the ASF and elsewhere.

Be patient waiting for a response: give it at least three working days before you send a second message. People are busy, and they will deal with your request when they can. If you need urgent help it is best not to rely on the community support channels, but to find an outside organization willing to support you for a fee. Remember that committers on Apache mailing lists are generally working as volunteers.

It is worth noting that people are more willing to help those who contribute back to the project in some way. If you hit a problem that was not documented, it is likely others will, too. A good idea is to send a patch to the project to improve its documentation. Then those who follow in your footsteps get an answer in the first step above and you start to build merit in the community that will result in further help in the future.

A second way of contributing is to provide user support to others as your expertise grows. Again, earning merit in this way will help you to get the support you need in the future.

Getting Involved with Apache projects

How do I choose an Apache project to work on?

The key to working on projects at Apache (and any open source project, for that matter) is to have a personal reason for being involved. You might be trying to solve a day job issue, you might be looking to learn a new technology or you might simply want to do something fun in your free time. The key is that you must want to get involved. It is also important that you have appropriate skills to be able to help the project.

Our projects page provides a list of projects that you can sort alphabetically, by category or by language. When you view a project’s details page you can find out about its mailing lists, issue tracker and other resources.

In the project’s issue tracker you will find details of bugs and feature requests the project would like help with. This should give you some inspiration about how you might be able to help the project community. If you see an issue you would like to tackle, it’s time to join the project’s mailing list and get started.

Some projects also use our Help Wanted! system.

How do I get involved with an Apache project?

You can improve your programming skills by watching the commit lists, receiving code reviews and participating in discussions. However, this learning opportunity is a healthy side effect of open source activities rather than a goal in itself. Nobody in an Apache project is going to spend time teaching you Programming 101, technical writing or testing (to pick just a few skills we need). You need to know the basics and be willing to research the rest.

To learn more about getting involved with an Apache Project see our getting started guide. You will also find our get involved page a useful starting point.

Is there a Code of Conduct for Apache projects?

Our code of conduct is posted at https://www.apache.org/foundation/policies/conduct.html. The ASF expects that everyone participating on an Apache project, whether it be improving websites, contributing to email lists, bugtrackers, or forums hosted at apache.org, or contributing code will abide by our code of conduct.

PMCs are allowed to define their own additional codes of conduct for their individual communities, but all PMCs are expected to abide by the Foundation wide policy.

The Incubator document also has some really useful information for both the newbie and the old hands. The section on ASF Mottos is especially useful as a reminder of the way things are in most ASF projects. This section includes such gems as:

About the Apache Mentoring Programme

What is the Apache Mentoring Programme?

Many projects are happy to assist newcomers learn about how to contribute to their specific project. However, some people are looking for more help, or are looking for help working across Apache projects. The ASF Mentor Programme provides additional support and structure for people looking to make an initial contribution to an ASF project.

For more information see our mentoring page.

How do I apply to the Mentoring Programme?

Take a look at our mentoring page. If you are planning on working on an Apache project as part of your formal education, you should also read mentoring in formal education.

From the mentoring page you will see that you need to complete an application. This gives us enough background information to enable us to approach your chosen project community and for you to work with prospective mentors in defining your mentored activity.

How can I find speakers willing to help us understand Apache?

The best way to start getting involved is to join the dev@community.apache.org mailing list. We also have a listing of volunteer speakers who might be willing to share slides or talks about the ASF.

How do I suggest changes to this website?

The content for the community.apache.org website is written in Markdown and published automatically using a Jenkins job. Any contributor is able to submit changes via pull requests. Comdev committers are able to merge proposed changes.

Website sources are available via:

For general questions you can ask us on dev@community or read our mailing list archives for past questions and answers.

For technical website details, see About this Website. To submit a formal bug, see our COMDEV JIRA.

What else does Community Development publish or manage?

The Community Development project maintains several other tools that help you navigate the ASF.

How do I report a bug for Comdev websites or tools?

The Community Development project has a Jira issue tracker queue where you can submit bug reports related to any of our services or websites.