Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Article: How to get (almost) everything you ever wanted in one (not very) easy step

I finished reading the article How to get (almost) everything you ever wanted in one (not very) easy step by Richard Kennard in SD Times magazine. At first I thought it was going to go in a direction that I thought would be helpful for most developers who want to get involved in open source projects, or just become more involved in their respective development communities. My hope was quickly dashed. Don't get me wrong, the article is good, but most folks will not be able to take this approach. 

Richard's approach is to find something that you can turn in to a doctoral thesis, and work on your Ph.D. The article then covers how Richard did this himself.  Richard's passion is a project called Metawidget. This is a really cool technology. In fact it was so cool, that as part of the JavaOne paper selection committee I strongly recommended it. The committee agreed, and Richard gave a talk about it at JavaOne a couple of years ago.

I like Richard's passion about putting in the extra mile to get something accomplished for you, and the community. I just want to make sure that people don't get lost in the idea of a Ph.D. as a minimum level of commitment.

I have an email from Ed Burns the specification lead for JSF. He is asking for assistance with Javadoc updates. This is for JSR-344 JSF 2.2. This is an example of something where you can make a difference without a lot of personal time expense, and may provide the push to continue into bigger and better things.

I sure could use some help in bringing the new Javadoc 7 style to the generated portion of the JSF spec [1].  Can anyone from the Adopt-a-JSR program help me out here?  The task would be very hands-on, as the generated portion of the spec uses several different kinds of documents as its source inputs.
It can be something simple like this that would make the difference for a lot of people. 

Obviously, I like to blog which does not require a lot of time. Here is my secret about blogging... I forget things. My blog is a reminder of how to do things that I figure out, and need every so often. I know it may sound funny, but I often Google for something and get my own blog. Other times, I blog about articles which I find interesting. Like this article.

If you want to participate in any project, or technology just ask. The smart project owners/leads will find a place in their project for you. Eventually, you may lead your own project.


Richard said...

Hi John,

Thanks for the write-up, and thanks for recommending my JavaOne talk in 2011!

I'm sorry if my article was misleading. I was definitely *not* saying a Ph.D. is the 'minimum level of commitment'. My point was more: starting an Open Source project is a huge undertaking (Kirill Grouchnikov did a wonderful article on this here Indeed, it's such a huge undertaking that many people (rightly) get turned off. But it may help to realise that all the work they put in can *also* get them, say, 80% of the way towards having a Ph.D., being a speaker, writing a book etc.

Of course, I'd strongly agree that getting involved at a simpler level, in someone else's project, is a good start. As Kirill points out, some 85% of new Open Source projects are abandoned - possibly because of lack of experience.



John Yeary said...

I liked the article. I just wanted to make sure that people who read it did not feel overwhelmed. I wish that I could get a Ph.D., but time is not available right now.

The question comes up regularly at JUG meetings about how to be more involved in F/OSS. I understand that in many cases, people don't have much time to dedicate. I tell them to ask a project lead, or specification lead if they need assistance. The smart ones will find time to help those who want to help them. They will also accomodate the time restrictions. A little give-and-take now will only build great rapport with the volunteer and supporting community. You reap what you sow.

I applaud your work, and hope others get involved with your work on Metawidget. It is a great project. Keep up the good work, and writing.

Popular Posts