How to contribute to OSArch

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If you're reading this page, you see value in what the OSArch community is doing, and would like to contribute yourself. You might not be sure where to begin, or might be worried that you might not know any coding ... but don't worry! Everybody can make a difference.

Welcome to OSArch! You will be part of a growing international effort to provide a free software ecosystem for the built environment. We're a community, coming from many backgrounds and disciplines, from many different tools. Pick a topic you're interested in, and most importantly, have fun and learn something new!

Join the community[edit]

The very first thing to do is to join the OSArch community. Sign up, and create a new post saying hello. We're about people first. Anytime you feel uncertain, reach out in the community forums. We might not be able to help, but we will try, and that's what matters.

Then you can take a look at our previous Monthly Meetups. You can also chat with some of us in our chat room #OSArch, using either IRC or Matrix. In those rooms you can also keep an eye on a feed of changes to this website, IfcOpenShell & FreeCAD

Use some free software![edit]

Did you know that there are more than 100 free software packages out there related to the AEC industry? Check out the AEC Free Software directory and see if any catch your fancy. Try them out! Try to substitute parts of your daily work with free software, and see how you go. Free software is still very new in the AEC industry, and many concepts will be foreign and you might even need to re-learn things you thought you knew, like how to do 3D modeling or how BIM data is actually organised ... but it's worth it! You will discover a new world, and everything begins from first trying something new. Not sure where to begin? Try learn Blender or FreeCAD.

When you try something new, share your journey on the community forums! Everybody starts somewhere, and everybody is happy to help you on your journey.

Once you've gotten your feet wet, let's see what else you can do.

Publicly declare yourself as an OSArch supporter[edit]

If you wish to make a public declaration of your belief in the goals of OSArch, add yourself to the list of OSArch Supporters as an advocate! Public support helps increase the visibility of OSArch!

If you are a boss...[edit]

If you are a boss, you can help to accelerate the change in the industry by saying to your BIM manager, “I want you to spend 10% of your time learning how to use open source software to address our company’s BIM-related challenges. Identify bugs, suggest enhancements, propose improvements to the user interface, and write documentation so that over time, we can reduce our dependence on expensive software that locks us into a vendor-controlled database.”

If your BIM manager is also a programmer, they can also develop tools that are specific to your company that work on top of the open source base.

Donating 10% of your BIM manager’s time creates a win – win – win scenario.

  • It is a win for the open source team; we welcome your BIM manager to join the party and accelerate the pace of development.
  • It is a win for your firm because in the short-term it can solve your BIM-related problems and in the medium term, it can reduce your dependence on expensive software.
  • It is a win for the industry because moving towards open source and NativeIFC is the right thing to do.

Issue reporting[edit]

There will be stumbling blocks when trying out new things. The most important thing to do is to report them as an issue. You won't find support staff who tell you to restart your computer - instead you'll find the developers directly responsible for building software reading your issues, and they will fix it and improve it for the next time. Developers love to hear about bugs!

It won't only be about bugs! Part of making a great user experience is to listen to the ideas of users. If you have a suggestion on how to change the software to improve things, especially if your idea is highly specific and implementable, there is a high chance that it'll happen.

As OSArch is a community who use a wide variety of software, you may need to find the right place to report issues. This is often in the individual project's bug tracking system. If you're unsure, just post in the OSArch community forums, and we can help direct it to the right place.

Advocacy and social media[edit]

Help promote OSArch and bring free software to the AEC industry by sharing about it on social media! The more people talking, the more people joining, the more people joining, the more people contributing. The more people contribute, the better it is for the entire industry!

Here are some things you might want to follow on social media

  • LinkedIn has an #osarch tag
  • Youtube has lots and lots of good videos and channels. We don't have our own for now. But have a look at the software on this site and see if there are some links (and then add some more you find)
  • Twitter & Mastodon coming soon!

Knowledge sharing in the Wiki[edit]

Everytime we learn something neat about free software, open data standards, or a neat way to collaborate, we write about it on this wiki. You can share what you know too! Press the "Edit" button on the top right of any page, and please fix any errors you find, or add detail where possible. If you want to create a new page, simply type in the name of your desired page in the search bar at the top of the site, press, search, and if it doesn't exist yet, you'll be given a message to "Create the page on this wiki!"

Have fun, ask questions if unsure, and don't be afraid to edit!


If you speak more than one language, help translate interesting content from one language to another. This way, we ensure that the entire world is included in the OSArch initiative.

Documentation, user guides, and how-tos[edit]

If you've managed to produce something with free software, write an article about it teaching others how to do it! If you don't have your own blog or website, you can write on this wiki. You don't even need an account! Just type in the name of the page you want to create in your search above, and start writing! See starting a new page and editing pages for help.

You can also use a screen recorder, and record a tutorial. Upload these to Youtube or Peertube and post it on social media. We're more than happy to help spread the word about your content!


OSArch accepts financial support through our Open Source Collective page. You may also be interested in donating directly to projects which impact you from the AEC Free Software directory and then documenting your financial contribution on the OSArch Supporters page. You can find places to donate in the Donation Directory.

Help find funding[edit]

While we are still a young group we're looking for sources of funds both to strengthen our organization as it grows and to support projects. If you know of funding sources or want to get involved in funding a specific project help us building our list of Funding sources.

Know how to code? Let's get coding![edit]

Even if you don't know coding, IfcOpenShell code examples can help you use Python to learn how to do basic OpenBIM data manipulation within one hour of training. If you do know coding, go through the examples, and it'll teach you all the basics you need!

We have articles to Start coding for Blender, if you'd like to extend Blender.

OpenCAx is the place for collaboration in Open Source CAD/CAE/CAM and includes BRL-CAD, FreeCAD, LibreCAD, OpenSCAD and Slic3r. They coordinate Google Summer of Code projects