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A contributor's guide to the Galaxy

How to make Galaxy even better

Galaxy is an open science computing project, with a large and active global community, that invites users and developers to join in and help make the project even better.

You can use Galaxy without paying the project. It is open source, so instead of charging a fee, the project offers opportunities to contribute your expertise and skills instead. A large part of Galaxy's success comes from the hundreds of individuals who have chosen to join the inclusive and safe global collaboration, making transparent, shareable, open science computing readily available to any researcher.

Contributor motivations vary. Some work on Galaxy for a living. Others want to pay it forward or perhaps scratch an open source itch.

Whatever motivates individuals, in addition to the satisfaction of contributing to an important open science resource, they gain valuable professional experience and skills, collaborating with talented and friendly people, working on problems they care about.

If this sounds interesting, please read on to learn more about contributing to Galaxy.

Where to start?

Galaxy is a complicated project, with many moving parts. At first, it can be hard to figure out how it all works, or where your specific skill set and interests might fit. One person's view of the big picture in terms of Galaxy's impact on open scientific computing can be found here.

Two main activity areas can be distinguished, technical and community. The distinction is only useful for organising things, because active two way interchange and overlap are always needed to keep all the different activities coordinated. There are a number of contributors who work in both areas, to ensure good communication and integration.

Technical Development

A large scale, complicated, open source software engineering project and source code forms the core of the project deliverables. Like the project itself, the code repository is complicated and made up of many interacting components and dependencies. The large community that has become engaged with that code now helps sustain the project, in part by providing a pool of talented external contributors, large enough to place Galaxy among the top 2% of OpenHub projects for developer activity.

If you would like to learn more about how you can contribute technical expertise, the Working Groups page is the best place to start as there are a wide variety of specialised areas to choose from. Contact the specific Working Group convenor to learn more.

Community Development

Like the source code, the community provides opportunities for contributions, such as collaborations to improve the sustainability, usefulness and growth of the community itself. In many cases, these projects will also involve technical aspects, but they rely primarily on other specialised scientific and organisational skills and experience.

The Outreach and Training WG addresses many issues that are community centered. This WG may be of interest to potential contributors to educational and training activities because it includes Galaxy Training Network collaborations.

The Global Galaxy Steering Committee (GGSC) is a formal Galaxy governance structure concerned with community activities. It consists of investigators and other Galaxy community contributors, who plan and manage projects and initiatives focussed on supporting and extending the community. The GGSC has now been in existence for a little more than a year, and offers a platform for new community initiatives. Community working groups are active in a broad range of topics such as mentoring, onboarding new investigators, and sustaining specific sub-communities such as small server administrators. New ideas are always welcome.

The GGSC Working Groups are open to community contributors. If you would like to learn more about any of them, contact the relevant Community Working Group convenor. In addition, the GGSC seeks community leaders as new members. The main requirements are vision, and willingness to invest time and effort to see that vision realised. If you would like to learn more, please email the GGSC chair