A hiatus from Open Source

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About ten years ago – in 2011 – I opened my first pull request to a major Scala open source project.1 At the time, I was still a Bachelor’s student in Computer Science. The contribution was part of a course that was offered by the Didactics unit in our CS department: we were supposed to pick some existing open source project – any language was fine – and work on some bugs or contribute features. The goal of the course was to teach the students how open source works. (Mission accomplished, I guess?) I worked with a friend on a competing implementation of Miles’ infamous early shapeless library. As everyone who knows a bit about contemporary Scala will confirm, shapeless prevailed, but my interest in open source Scala was piqued regardless.

The next year, I found myself creating a Twitter account,2 just before Scala Days 2012 in London. Both my friend from the course and me went to London, knowing fuck all about conferences nor London, but alas, there were student-priced tickets, so at least we didn’t get bankrupt. I still vividly remember meeting at The Shakespeare, having the just-introduced specialization (and its problems) explained to me by Erik. He had a notebook and gave his best explaining things to me, but I don’t think I understood anything. I was just way too excited. During the conference, I met a ton of people, many of which are still around in Scala these days and which I call my dear friends.

Another year later, I gave my first conference talk in English at Northeast Scala Symposium in Philadelphia. Daniel had recommended a hotel to me, where he & his then-colleagues stayed. Due to sheer luck I ran into them in the train from the airport to downtown, so I had someone to explain the SEPTA token system to me. I don’t remember who, but someone suggested we go to dinner together at some fancy place, and I just remember screaming internally at the prices (I was a Master’s student). The conference itself was phenomenal and based on many conversations I had there, Typelevel was founded.3 I came home from the US feeling like I found a place where I belong.

I could spend a lot more time telling stories about conferences. What’s amazing is that all of that was so long ago. Between then and now, Typelevel was a lot more successful than I had ever thought it could be. I organized many conferences, peaking at my involvement in the ten year anniversary edition of Scala Days. There are countless people I’ve crossed paths with and undoubtedly, my continuous efforts in making the Scala open source world a better place meant something to some of them. I deeply appreciate the people who got me where I am today.

Already quite a while ago I gave up all responsibility relating to running a conference. And as for coding, I mostly focused on less glamorous affairs. Then finally, a few months ago, I realized that my priorities had shifted. I briefly returned, only to find that I don’t enjoy working in open source anymore. The reasons are too vague and personal to explain here, but suffice it to say, I am now a lot more into weekends where I’m not plowing through a PR queue with (breaking) version updates. It used to be fun, but it isn’t any more.

Everything finally clicked for me shortly after the first stable version of Scala 3 was released. The community – especially within Typelevel – has worked hard for months to get all the libraries into shape. After a few iterations with milestones and release candidates, the release train was running so smoothly that it took barely a day to get a large majority of Typelevel libraries out the door. It was great to see Dotty take off, and I’m happy that I played my part in it. But what is now left to do for me? I don’t know.

So, the only logical conclusion is for me to step away for an unknown amount of time. This is definitely not a “Goodbye Scala” letter, since I’m continuing to use and advocate Scala. I may even come back to open source in some form. But for now, if you want to find me, it won’t be on GitHub. Hit me up on Twitter, via mail, or – pandemic permitting – in good ol’ meatspace.

  1. There’s even earlier Scala code by me on GitHub. Feel free to poke around. Before then, I used to hang out on the mailing lists. (Remember these?) 

  2. Much to Miles’ suprise

  3. Maybe earlier, depending on how you define “foundation”.