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If yes, can you provide an example? Is it due to learning new tricks that you wouldn't learn otherwise by reading other's code? Or any other reasons as well?

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Absolutely.

  • Often, I participate in the development of open-source projects I use at work -- there's no better way to maintain expertise on something than to be one of the people who wrote it!

  • Coding on things unrelated to work can help one avoid tunnel-vision in programming. By staying active in different kinds of development projects, I've avoided "well...we always did it like that" syndrome.

  • Working in open source, I've had the opportunity to receive guidance from coders far more experienced than myself; this has made me a better coder.

  • Working in open source, I got real-world experience managing development teams, so I was ready when I came to a leadership position at work.

  • Working in open source, I get exposed to new technologies earlier than I would in the workplace: when the time comes to evaluate technology Foo for use at work, I have opinions and the facts and experience to back them up.

  • It's just plain fun. :)

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Those seem to be great reasons! Thanks, that should give me some motivation to start ASAP. –  Roopesh Shenoy Dec 7 '10 at 6:33
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Yes, working on any kind of projects outside of work help expand your knowledge on a particular subject, allow you to network with other developers, and help you build your portfolio.

As a developer, there is no reason not to have something working on the side, whether it is an open source or commercial project or even a technical blog.

Also, I've found side projects a way to stay passionate about programming. On your own projects you get to do whatever you want which can be exciting and a nice change from the day-to-day corporate programmer life.

The more things you work on, the more you will learn and the more marketable you become.

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Well... not especially open source, but working for some hobby project in your free time can really help you with your coding skill and with your cv as well.

As example I started using python for a report generating tool in 2001 and then I was able to apply for a work in python in 2003.

It happened again with Java technologies and now I'm learning Scala...

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The most obvious way my work productivity has benefitted from open source is when I submit a bugfix for a bug that is preventing me from doing work.

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