Without exception, every open source developer I’ve ever met has been impassioned with the idea of a shared software model for the greater good. Moreover, they began and continue their journeys through the progression of deep expertise on a singular project or moving through various solutions driven by a seemingly internal calling. Eric S. Raymond gave us, “Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch.” Perhaps Eric is onto something with reference to the physical, but I see it as spiritual–nearly a vocation. Creating any software on its own requires significant artistic and technical capabilities, but to create with the hopes that others will lean in to fill in the colors of the landscape is truly community.
Everyone benefits from the gift of open source code: why start from the ground up when you can use your talents to improve upon design? Fork it to create customizations based on your specific needs. A few of my favorites have taken some time to guide us through what drives them to code (even in their “off hours”) and, ultimately, to share their open source projects. Some of the projects are for industrial practice, but others are quite domestic in nature. Taking personal hobbies or home repair projects to open source was rather ingenious and downright fascinating to me. I hope you enjoy the series.
Extending the Life of a Machine
Darren Hart shared with us how he was able to repair a common household machine by creating a 3-D printable replacement part when the industry no longer supported his appliance. Of course, being open source software, anyone can go in and utilize his code for reprinting. Moreover, if they have their own similar collar specifications, the file is modifiable so that another machine can be repaired similarly.
Logging Your Own Journeys
While Dirk Hohndel is known for his considerable passion and contribution in Linux, he is also an avid scuba diver. Limitations in logging the specifics of each of his dives for future dashboard viewing and analysis, including associated photography on commercially available software packages, frustrated him. It only made sense that he launch a project with other active contributors to create a dive log that fulfills their every current and future wish.
Assessing the Risk
Justifying the business value of participation in open source projects is a way of promoting the overall community. Dawn Foster has been a champion of the CHAOSS project, which specifically gathers and analyzes the metrics of the health of open source projects. Defining metrics around organizational affiliation, diversity and inclusion and code progression over time are a few of the areas defined by the community.
Stay tuned for more open software vocational stories in the coming weeks.