Getting Started With A Large Project

Screenshot of Rails repository — 10:10 GMT, 25th Jan 2019

Every software developer will likely come to a point where they have to contribute to a large project, whether it be a gigantic codebase with numerous commits and directories or an environment with different applications in a service-oriented architecture.

As an experienced developer, you’d be expected to get cracking real quick (or get ramped up quickly), but the interesting truth is that becoming a legend on a large codebase isn’t usually a walk in the park. Definitely gets better with more experience.

I’ve been lucky to start up some projects, as well as join some others that are quite large(over 25k commits). Of course, I actively follow the Rails repo(currently over 70k commits). In my experience, the following would make life easier when you’re getting started with a large project.

Tip: Unless you’re really sure, never run all specs locally. They could take long minutes or hours. You should only run specs that relate to your work locally. Running the whole test suite is part of the responsibilities of your CI.

Oh, some projects have no tests and that’s not funny at all 💀

These are a few of the things I’ve learned while working on teams with large codebases. Some of them I mastered quite easily, some I had to learn over time. Thoughts? Feel free to drop ‘em in the comments. Cheers!



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