What is it like to work in Open-source?

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. – Wikipedia

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I am Yannick Mayeur, a French computer science student currently gaining work experience at Kichwa Coders in the UK, and this is how I feel about working with Open-source.

Why Open-source ?

Let me tell you a story. A company asks someone in their software team to build some software to do a certain task. It takes him a lot of time but he manages to do it. He is the only one working on the project so there are no comments in the code nor any documentation to help maintain the code. He later leaves the company, the software slowly becomes useless as nobody else knows how to use it.

If this company had created an Open-source project instead, this problem wouldn’t have occurred.

Help spread Open-source – or ensure a job for life by using this guerrilla guide on how to write unmaintainable code. But seriously don’t.  Continue reading “What is it like to work in Open-source?”

Diversity means Open Source for a New Generation

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Last month the Eclipse Foundation announced a new Diversity & Inclusion Champion, Thea Aldrich. I did cartwheels in my head when I heard the news. Why? Because I can’t do cartwheels in real life. But seriously, this is really a BIG DEAL.

When it comes to open source communities like Eclipse, you don’t need big data to know there is a diversity problem, you just have to show up to an EclipseCon and look around.

While this has been the case for years, recently there has been a change. Maybe it’s down to more consciousness of the issues or maybe more maturity in the community, but people have noticed and want to do something about it.  About a year ago, a grassroots effort led by Alex Schladebeck was started with the renewed goal of improving diversity in the community and at conferences. I was honoured to be part of the small but effective team. One big goal of ours was simply to raise awareness and start an open conversation about issues surrounding diversity. We did just that, through:

  • Writing: blog post, after blog post, after blog post
  • Speaking: I do a diversity talk ‘7 Habits of Highly Diverse Communities’, which has been well received and requested by other open source communities.
  • Online Discussions: we have a dedicated Mattermost channel at Eclipse for the topic, plus several web conferences.
  • In Person Discussions: we have had Diversity BOFs at EclipseCons, as well as addressed the Eclipse Board of Directors & Members’ meeting.

And we’ve been learning a lot along the way, such as when we tried and failed to secure a woman keynote speaker for one of the conferences. However,the best thing about all this has been how the rest of the community has responded. People have shown up, got involved, asked questions, challenged things (I expect nothing less of developers!) and offered support.

Throughout this, and even from the beginning, we have always wondered how we can sustain these efforts and indeed how we can expand them to do more. There is no quick fix for promoting diversity, more just a continuous and determined set of steps in the right direction. And in reality it would never work long term without someone dedicated to spearheading the changes.

So that is why, in less than a year after we implored the Foundation to make this happen, they listened, took us seriously and did it! Not just that, the Eclipse Foundation now becomes an Open Source Foundation investing in change, with a dedicated role to diversity. We can hope this becomes a must-have role for every open source foundation out there.

I’ve always said how much I love this community because of the ability to adapt to changing environments, and here is more proof. Thea has already kicked off efforts on multiple fronts:

  • Identifying ways in which all Eclipse events are inclusive events and welcoming,
  • Rolling out an ambassador program to involve the community in welcoming newcomers into the ecosystem,
  • Reaching out to established projects to see how we can support their efforts,
  • Making all Eclipse Foundation websites and resources easier to navigate for native non-English speakers,
  • Providing the community with a direct path to Foundation staff for ideas, complaints, feedback and other issues that our community or members may encounter.

We look forward to working with Thea, the Foundation and community on all these aspects to keep making improvements and bring about a real change.I will continue to do what I can, which includes running for a seat on the Board of Directors. Having this new focus and investment in diversity means we can look forward to bringing open source to a whole new generation of developers.

Kichwa Coders is Hiring

Kichwa Coders is a team of self-driven, open source experts and now we are always looking for more to join us. We work closely with enterprise companies, start-ups and government agencies to innovate with open-source software. Kichwa Coders specialise in Eclipse technologies and applying those frameworks and tools to specialist domain such as embedded, Internet of Things and scientific software.

We are looking for software engineers to join us in our High Wycombe offices, just outside London, England. We have positions open for both experienced developers as well as junior or graduate software developers. We happily consider a broad range of backgrounds and experience so long as you are an active and enthusiastic developer. Junior developers will have the opportunity to be mentored and learn from the best.

At Kichwa Coders, we focus on excellence in software development through best practices and mastery of software tools and framework. We aim to always foster an environment for innovation, which includes transparency, openness & diversity. If you are looking for a great opportunity to work with cutting-edge technologies, in open source and with great people then do get in touch jobs@kichwacoders.com.

The Open Source Advent Calendar

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It’s that time of year again. But I don’t really like chocolate. And there’s only so many times you can do a Lego advent calendar. However, I do really love open source software. So for a change, it’s time to spread some open source software magic.

The Open Source Advent calendar works like a normal advent calendar, but instead of the usual countdown, in this case each day has a specific ‘act of open source goodness’. Whether you are an existing open source committer, a contributor or even a lurker looking to get involved, the open source advent calendar will get you right into the spirit of things. It’s like the Kindness Calendar but for open source software.

We’ll be working as a team at Kichwa Coders to step through the calendar, focusing on the projects we love.  We’re using the hashtag #OpenSourceAdventCalendar to share our acts of open source. We invite you to join us, create an open source ripple effect and make a difference to open source projects everywhere this December!

Download the Open Source Advent Calendar here.

Why You Should Send Flowers To Open Source Developers

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You are probably thinking flowers are dumb: they die and they don’t do anything; they are for dates, weddings and funerals. Besides, open source developers do not need flowers, they need money. But nobody wants to pay for software, let alone open source software. Even though today open source software is as vital as roads and bridges, nobody wants to pay to maintain it.

So by all means let’s figure out a way to get more money for open source developers. But in the meantime, here’s why you should still send flowers.

  1. Flowers show appreciation

Taskwarrior share some great lessons learnt for open source maintainers. This includes cautionary tales like: “People will pick a fight with you about all your incidental choices. Your issue tracker, your branching strategy, your version numbers, the text editor you use, and so on.” Open source developers are a tough bunch, but are still likely to suffer from burnout. Sending flowers is the ultimate gesture of positivity and understanding. Plus there is all sorts of research out there that suggests flowers & plants improve mood and promote creativity in the workplace.

  1. People think you are more capable & emotionally intelligent

If altruistic reasons are not enough, then consider this. The act of giving flowers has benefits for the giver. The act of giving makes people happy. There is also research that says people who send flower are perceived as having higher emotional intelligence, capable and courageous.

  1. You will be a better leader

Small things can make all the difference. This idea is partly inspired by my favourite blogger, who wrote about the effect receiving flowers from Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce had on her. Basically really good leaders are always thinking of thoughtful ways to get the best out of everybody.

OK so now I have a confession to make. Maybe I am telling you this because Kichwa Coders have recently joined the realm of open source maintainers, heading up and contributing to the January project  (numpy & datastructures for Java). And we are gearing up, together with the rest of the Eclipse Science Working Group, for our first major science release. It is an amazing project that will provide tool infrastructure for countless scientific projects. So it will be awesome, but there is still some trepidation when you cross the threshold from open source user to open source maintainer. It is a little bit like how when you have your own kids, you finally really appreciate your parents and wonder how they did it. Right now I am in awe of open source leads and maintainers everywhere. So just do it. Send flowers to open source developers. And while you’re at it, send some to your parents too.