Wicked Good Development: Dev Nexus Reflections and Conversations Part 3

June 13, 2022 By Kadi Grigg

22 minute read time

Wicked Good Development is dedicated to the future of open source. This space is to learn about the latest in the developer community and talk shop with open source software innovators and experts in the industry.

In this episode, we connect with Luis Majano, CEO of Ortus Solutions and long-time computer engineer, about putting in the open source work. From using a 70/30 ratio to dedicate time building open source in between client work to getting the next generation involved in maintaining minor code fixes first-hand, hear how the level of work put in makes the difference in professional open source.

We also learn with Grace Jansen, Developer Advocate at IBM, about how the preservation of open source collaboration will be the guiding light to pushing technology forward. Hear how her unique background in Biology gives her insight into methodologies and behaviors when it comes to responsiveness and resiliency.

If you'd like to start at the beginning, jump back to part one of this series or back up to part two.

Listen to the episode


 

Wicked Good Development is available wherever you find your podcasts. Visit our page on Spotify's anchor.fm

Show notes

Hosts

  • Kadi Grigg
  • Omar Torres

Panelists

  • Rohan Bhaumik, Product Manager
  • Theresa Mammarella, Developer Advocate
  • Steve Poole, Developer Advocate
  • Rishav Mishra, Product Manager
  • A.J. Brown, Principal Engineer
  • Grace Jansen - IBM Developer Advocate
  • Luis Majano - CEO of Ortus Solutions

Transcript

Omar

Hey everybody! Welcome to another episode of Wicked good development. Today you will hear the rest of the roundtable discussing the Devnexus conference as well two interviews with developers giving insights into open source. Enjoy -

Steve

So I know we started this by talking about conversations, but it is all about conversations. The whole thing about the conferences is that you can have conversations, which you could not do - like we're having now, you can't do this virtually, you can't bump into the guy from ColdFusion who tells you, how do we, you know, we have this problem. You can't discover these things because you can't have these conversations.

AJ Brown

On top of that, like, I probably would have not even taken that conversation if it came to me like via email or something like, “Hey, you want to talk about cold fusion?” I'm like, no, I really don't. But because I happened to be there and, oh wait. Okay. That sounds interesting. Let me lean in a little bit and listen - you do get that extra feedback that you would have not gotten otherwise.

Steve

Yeah, exactly. I mean, if you think of conferences as this massive intelligence gathering exercise, because you did, I mean, you had conversations, but of course you could have gone to a talk and said - Hey, there's a talk about coldfusion or whatever that you weren't expecting. And if you go to that talk and the room's packed, then, you know it's an interesting topic and there are all these sorts of insights you get from conferences because you go there and do this intelligence gathering. It's almost impossible to do this any other way. And, and then of course, once you find something you could, go talk to the speaker, which you could have a reasonable conversation with the speaker face-to-face, it's quite hard to do that other webinar because they tend to want to sign off you know, so I'm always very positive about conferences because of all this valuable information that we get and these personal relations.

Theresa

One of the very gratifying things that I observed along those lines is just, every company and especially companies that make developer tools have pain points and seeing how people are using them and possibly not using them correctly. And as a result, developers get frustrated if there's a bit of a disconnect there. So I saw a lot of conversations of developers that were just able to go up to this product that they're using and say, hey, what am I, how could we do this better? How can I get the most value out of it? And that's just not really possible outside of the conference setting that I've seen.

And it was interesting to see too. I talked to a lot of developers and one of the, kind of smalltalk narratives that kept coming up was, oh, I'm a developer. I'm so introverted. And it's so exhausting being here. I haven't talked to anyone in two years. But what I was really seeing body language wise was everyone was really happy to be there because it is satisfying to have those conversations and get more out of being a developer and being part of a community than you'd get just sitting behind the screen.

Rishav

Yeah, I totally resonate with some of the thoughts shared here. I remember before COVID I had gone to tech crunch in San Francisco and I was Manning a booth there. Though it was for a different reason, it was a business startup conference and we were pitching the company to potential investors. So this one was very different, but also very similar in many aspects. I would say, what is fascinating for me since I'm relatively new to Sonatype, is that I actually got a chance to talk to dozens and dozens of developers. Which my tool caters to - in-person. I think being a product manager all the conversations I had had before this was online, was over zoom and actually getting them, having them right in front of you and being able to ask and dig deep and be like, Hey, do you want to get lunch? Do you want to go out for a walk for 10 minutes? I think that was fascinating. And of course Atlanta's weather was far better than Toronto. So, you know, that was one - an additional perk. But, like specifically, I'd like to mention Luis Majano, who I had the chance to do the podcast with to do a recording with, but I was fascinating to talk to him, somebody who's so experienced and, and such an influence and the open source space.

Luis Majano

Hi, my name is Luis Majano. I'm the CEO of Ortus solutions. I'm a computer engineer by trade and I was born in El Salvador. So for those Spanish listeners mi nombre es Luis, soy Del Salvador, y soy Ingeniero, y soy el presidente de una compania que se llama Ortus Solutions.

Omar

Excellent. Okay. And we're here with Rishav. Can you say a little about yourself.

Rishav

yeah. Hey, I'm, Rishav, I'm a product manager at Sonatype and it's a pleasure speaking to you. Yeah. So what kind of work do you do? How's the conference been?

Luis

Sure. The conference has been great, coming here for many, many years now. So very excited to be in person again here. So that's very exciting. I've been a speaker a few times, so it's been wonderful this year and I do a lot of things. So actually I created an open source MBC framework for CFML in 2006. So 15 years ago - went mainstream and building lots of tools and for developers, especially in the CFML and Java world.

And now we have tons of moreover I think we have about 400 open source repositories and projects that we curate and we have, and then our professional services branch to kinda maintain all the open source stuff. So our focus is open source.

Rishav

Wow. That sounds super interesting. I'm always interested in how the open source community gets supported by companies and, you know, how they get their funding, because this is a big issue in the community.Isn't it? What is your take on that? How do you support open source?

Luis

Yeah. Well, I think you have two choices, right? You can either look for money, right. To somebody to invest in you, right. Or you can do the work and be disciplined and go through it. And I took the ladder. So I did the hard work. I did the discipline, no debt, zero debt. That was important in order to actually do a business. And then it's just, you know, doing the work, right, doing the grassroots, going to the conferences as much as you can, being wise, financially at the beginning. And obviously things evolve as you progress, but Ortus is fully self-funded right. We have no, no outside interest is all us where zero debt. And that's how we can actually keep development for open source. Through time we found that as our developers want to do all the time open source, but that's not possible sometimes. So we have a ratio in Ortus where 70% of the time is kind of dedicated to client work, right? Professional services, all kinds of things that actually bring income. And then 30% of their time they can use for building open source, right? They can use it for research and development. They want new products, right? Or new initiatives they want to bring to us that will go through our brand. And that ratio has really, really worked, especially so people don't get burned by dealing with just client work. They can actually work on fun stuff. And that ratio has given us the ability to continue with open source without the need of looking for funding.

Rishav

That that's something which I find very interesting. What inspired the 70, 30 ratio? Like how did you come to this?

Luis

Trial and error, trial and error! Yeah. I cannot tell you there was a specific, you know, a moment in time. It was just at the beginning, you know, obviously you were like one month - Oh my gosh, I can't pay everybody. Right. So then you start playing with the numbers and trying to find that balance. Right. So for us, it took several years to kind of find that balance. And now we find it at 70, 30, especially like, we know, let's say we're doing the, our conference, which we do every year. Right. We, we lower it. Right. Cause we know that more people are going to be involved in open source. Right. So we lower it to 80 20. Right. Or, or it could be something different. Right. So through time we've learned these kinds of formulas that work, and also people are, you know, the developers are happy because they don't have to really just focus on client work, but they can focus on building new things.

Right. So that was very important for us to have that dynamic in the group.

Rishav

Sounds awesome. And how do you see the open source community? How do you think it has evolved since 2006? Since you created this, how, do you manage these changes? Like how do you see the industry? How does it move in the past and how it's evolving for the future?

Luis

Yeah, I mean, being an open source company for more than 15 years, think you see a lot of changes, right? Obviously you saw, you see a lot of big players now getting involved with open source that they didn't before, like Microsoft. Right. Although their rules for open source are kind of now a little bit different, right? You have to sign legal agreements in order to actually do pull requests and, you know, there's all these legalities and things that come with that. Right. So I think that aspect has changed. Right. I think a collaboration is more out there, that everybody knows that open source is valuable at this point. Right. I think it just has gone mainstream right, before the trust level was not there. I would believe you know, you have to build trust, right. For companies to trust you know your open source work. I mean, I remember when I started Cold box, you know, 15 years ago. You know, people didn't have that right trust to say, I'm going to build my entire system on this open source framework. That one guy built. Right. And it's not even his full-time job. Right. So developing trust, I think, has evolved through these 15 years. And now I think companies have a higher comfort level. Right. And knowing that companies like Red Hat or Microsoft are behind a lot of these open source projects and they have seen that, you know, one person developer can create something incredible and bring it mainstream. So I think that's what I've seen that it's great. But obviously right now it's super saturated, right. The market. So now what you get is just libraries that fall like flies. Right. You basically get the projects that they, oh, it's a brand new framework. Right. And then six months later, it’s dead, right. So now apart from trust now I think that there's a real difficulty in finding the projects that have longevity. Right. So I think that's a lot for our interests, especially since we been doing it for so long is to tell and comfort, you know, companies and tell them we're here. We're not going anywhere. Right. And to support them professionally. Right. That's what professional open source comes from. Right. So I think now there has to be a distinction between open source and professional open source. Right?

Rishav

Oh, that's fascinating. And it's, it's really interesting to see how it's evolved and how different companies in different ways can actually support the community. Right. Whether it's creating, whether it's funding, whether it's revenue sharing in some way or the other. I'm also curious about your talk here. What was your talk about, how did that go?

Luis

Yeah, my talk, it was on Alpine JS. It's actually a project that is a new, not so new, but it's a framework for Java script for front-end reactivity, similar to Vue JS. But lightweight is what I call the jQuery replacement. That's basically how we have seen it. And we've been using it in many, many projects. And I learned it, love it, and I wanted to represent it.

Rishav

Yeah, it sounds awesome.

Omar

Yeah. We’re Good. Is there any final thoughts, things for the developer world, any things that you want to tell them?

Luis

Well, I think mostly for the theme of open source, right. I think that, you know, there are ways to monetize it. Right. And I think that sometimes developers want to go from zero to a hundred in one minute, and that's just not possible unless you basically sell all your rights and get ventured right. If that's what you want and sell your company, that's a different story. But for us, it was, this is our mission, right. If that's how you feel, right. Then just know that yes, work is involved, right. Be smart with your finances. Right. And also document - we are known for documentation in our CFML world. We have all of our framers and libraries are extremely well-documented.

And that was one of the things when I started doing professional open-source is that if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right. And that involved writing and that involved learning how to write and learning how to be smart and automate myself to create documentation or generate documentation. So, you know, Pedrito from Columbia can learn how to do it, but Gunther in, in Germany can also as well. Right. So I think it was very important for me to make sure that the documentation was a key piece. And you see that in, in our space of, of software development, that many many projects are extremely horribly documented. Right. And the majority of, what the developers say, right? It's like, there's the API docs, right? Go read the API docs. It was like, it's better to just go

Rishav

Or RTFF

Luis

Yeah! And sometimes there is no manual. So what, what manual am I going to read is some Java docs in the ether and they don't have anything it's just purely generated. Go see the code and there's no documentation even in the code. So I think if you want to actually be successful in open source, you have to take the time to know that you're developing for some. Right. How is it going to be useful, you know, for the developer, not for you, right? Because I can create many, many cool little features, but who cares? Right. As long as it's something that is useful for somebody, that's what matters and that's what matters to us. So that's what I would recommend for those young developers that want to take their ideas and create businesses around it. Or, you know, be able to impact - is to focus on hard work and documentation.

Rishav

That's amazing. Final question. I'm really interested when you talk about younger developers or folks who are interested in the open source community and they want to contribute, how do they figure out what they are building would actually be useful?What, what are your thoughts on that?

Luis

Yeah. We 've actually thought about this for many years, right? That's how you bring and attract developers to help you. Right. And I think it also relies on you as a maintainer to create that for them. Right. So we've had several initiatives, at least with Ortus where in our repositories. On our issue tracker, sorry, we create tickets that are easy, right, call it newbies. So people can come and actually grab them. Right. And then they can, they can contribute. I think a lot of people are very hesitant sometimes to send their pull requests or something because they feel kind of ashamed or they don't know if they're going to accept it or they kind of have that. Maybe I'm not good enough. Right. And we all go through that. Right. But I would say you know, kind of fight those, those words demons right. And just do it, because first of all, if you go through the source code, you're going to learn a lot. Right. That's the first thing you're learning already by just looking at the source code. And then even if you just fix a typo, I think that goes a long way because you learn how to do a fork. You learn how to do the pull request. You fix the typo, you start out a relationship with the maintainers, right. And then you can even start asking questions and people already know you because we've already sent the pull requests. Right. So I think that for those that want to get involved with open source, first of all, the maintainers need to make it easier. Right. On how to contribute Right. So usually we try to put all bunch of contributing dot marked on files in all our repositories. So people know how to do that, right. How to actually send stuff to us and then just do it, you know, just fix a typo. That will the first task. Go fix a typo. And once you fix a typo, then you can start getting fancier. Yeah.

Omar

Excellent. That's it. Thank you so much for your time.

Luis

Appreciate it.

Rishav

Thank you so much.

Rishav

I think one key takeaway from that conversation for me was really the change in how folks look at open source projects. I remember when I had started coding, which was a long, long time ago, maybe like 10, 11 years ago. Open source communities were not as proactively supported, but through many conversations in this conference that really came to light that, Hey, there's different ways by which you can support open source. And that just it's awesome for the community. It's awesome. And it encourages newer folks, younger developers to actually get into open source, which I think is a fascinating trend in the industry.

Omar

Thats amazing. So who else did we interview?

Kadi

Steve, I think one of your former colleagues was - we actually spoke with Grace Jansen. And she's fantastic. I mean, we've all been talking about it, but conferences are great cause that communication you're talking to people, but she also made me actually I think, understand containers a little bit better just based on the way she describes things and using her biology degree background for it. So it was just very interesting.

Rohan

So tell us about who you are and what brings you to Devnexus?

Grace

Yeah, thanks for having me on the podcast, It's great to join. So my name is Grace Jansen and I'm a developer advocate at IBM. If you can't tell from my accent based in the UK. Yeah, so I work with primarily like open source cloud, native Java technology. So stuff like Open Liberty, Micro Profile Jakarta E . I do some stuff with Reactive, which I really enjoy. And yeah, just anything cloud native.

Kadi

Why Reactive do you enjoy?

Grace

Oh, I just, so I originally come from a biology background, so I did a biology degree and then switched to tech. So a lot of the time when I'm looking at technologies and methodologies, I'm linking it back to analogies that I understand from biology and in my head, it just made complete sense with the reactive manifesto.Do you know it?

Kadi

I've heard of it. I'm not that familiar with it. Is there anything worth noting that you want to pull out of it that really resonated with you?

Grace

There's four key principles behind it. So these key sort of behaviors are what drives applications that are trying to be reactive. So the underlying one is asynchronous message driven communication. And in biology, I'm like, yeah, that's what we do all the time.

Rohan

What is a good analog in biology for asynchronous messages?

Grace

Funny you ask, I've got a whole talk on this. So I do it about bees. So, if you think about bees and bee societies, it is amazing. They have the same behaviors, like responsiveness, resiliency what else? And elasticity. so bees, right? So when a bee comes in, let's say a bee has gone and found food and they come back to the hive, then they want to spread the message that this food is there to be able to get more bees, to come to it.

Rohan

So putting it on topic.

Grace

Exactly. So what they do is broadcast the message, because it would take forever going around to each individual bee going, do you know where the food is? Here's the food like, this is where it is. Can you go now? Are you going to go and like waiting for a response? Right? So instead they go to these dance floors and they do this - basically wiggle with their butts where they show them where the food is. And then lots of bees basically listen to that topic. Just like in, for example, event streaming. Yes. And so they listen and then they go out and they don't have to wait for a response. So way more asynchronous.

Rohan

That is nuts.

Grace

Yeah. It's amazing.

Kadi

That's going to stick with me now, like that, like that will stick with me.

Grace

All you gotta think about is bees on dance floors.

Rohan

Yeah, I think that you've touched on something that I, did want to unpack. Like you, mentioned that you're doing a lot of devrel work with IBM, especially in the Java space. A lot of open source presence. What is your sense on how open source in Java? Is it growing? Is there a point where we can be doing more? What is your sense based on what you've seen?

Grace

I think it's growing and becoming more prevalent. So if you look back even say 10 years and look at the difference between like previously, we had just like Java E, for example, generally it was run by, typically one corporation and there wasn't really much control over features being put into it, how fast that was happening, et cetera. Whereas if you look now, you've got Jakarta E, you've got openJ9, adopt open JDK. Microprofile all of these fantastic open source specifications and communities that just weren't there before. And I think they play such a really crucial role in ensuring that we have that open collaboration and that we can really push forward our technology, because I think the danger with not having open standards and not having that open collaboration is that technologies fall behind, languages fall behind.

Kadi

I would agree with that.

Grace

There's so many new languages because Java let's face it. It's like it's older than me. Like it's been around a while. Right. And so we have to keep innovating it to keep it able to be able to provide the features that we need for modern applications, because otherwise people are just going to start using a different language, going to use a different technology.

Rohan

And that's kind of what you see, right? Like most people who come out of school now, they aren't necessarily taken to Java like I did, for example, and this was like, wait about 10 or 15 years ago. So do you think we could be doing more as contributors, as, as you know, people who think about open source to kind of, how do we make sure Java is still attractive to people who are coming out of college?

Grace

Million dollar question. Yeah, so there's actually an initiative being run within the Java community within things like microprofile and Jakarta EE within the eclipse foundations in opensource, where they're specifically looking at, okay, how can we get Java into education? How can we let them know about, you know, Java is the language you want to be using because - A it's got a huge history behind it, massive community, all these open source, and it's ready for your enterprise environments, you know, it's ready for your enterprise applications.

A lot of these newer languages haven't had the thorough testing that Java has. Right. And so there is there's loads of different initiatives all at the moment. So if you're interested in getting involved in stuff like that, go to a listening and then definitely go and check out these open-source communities. Like microprofile Jakarta EE. They have monthly calls and there are specific initiatives where they're looking at how to get more Java into education and spread it, especially to younger communities.

Kadi

Yeah. That's powerful. Yeah.

Rohan

Yeah. I didn't know about that.

Kadi

Yeah. That's really powerful actually in a way to get like younger people into it, because you're right. The thing is, is, does have more history. It has been thoroughly tested where some of these newer languages, like I have a lot of friends who are looking at go Lang, but it, it hasn't had that history or that footprint. Right. So that's a really insightful,

Grace

And you got to think about these developers that we're looking at, when we're looking at universities, colleges, education, these are the next enterprise developers, right.

So we need to be targeting them and we need to be presenting Java as an attractive language so that we can continue this innovation.

Omar

That was fantastic. Rohan could you speak on the impact for you?

Rohan

For a lot of non-technical folks like myself, trying to understand technical movements - using analogies is the best way to go about it. Like I remember for a previous role, I was managing a team that was building services that averaged, you know, the messaging between services using Kafka. And I was like, I have no idea what Kafka is. What is this? And there was this, there's this really cool presentation around what Kafka is. And they, the analogy that they used was Otters communicating to other Otters through a river and passing pebbles in the stream. And so I get how that works and like extending that to, extending that to using analogies from biology or from nature to explain complicated or most commonly used new technology patterns is interesting.And I think everyone should use that if there's stuff that they don't understand, or if nothing like this exists out there, tap into it. It's a great way to get your point across.

Kadi

So switching gears here some of us, I know we're able to attend some sessions where there any sessions that stood out to you, content delivery or theme.

Theresa

The one that I went to that stood out to me was. A talk about how to approach lifelong learning in a tech career, which, you know, it, wasn't learning about a new technology, but I thought it was a really good take on something that is just so vital to all of us continuing down this career path since the industry changes so often we do have to stay up to date. And couple of the takeaways from that one were basically, instead of trying to learn everything at once, which I certainly have been known to do sometimes, start with something very small, that just challenges you a little bit and build on your existing skills. That way you won't get frustrated. And you'll actually remember what you learned. And the other thing was to, to interact with what it is you're learning. So the speaker gave some examples of some games that he had built. In an attempt to learn various technology concepts. And then he remembered them really well because of the way that he interacted with them. And so that was my favorite talk and certainly something that I'm planning to apply going forward in my continuous learning of software.

Omar

What is it like to go to an event like this? What, else did you notice that developers are looking for? Or just anybody in the Java space? Who, who went to those conferences?

Steve

So I'll give you one example of just how amazing conferences can be. So on one of the evenings we were one of the parties, “one of the parties” at a party, somebody came up to me and we had a chat and they said they would like to become a speaker.

And they said, how do we do that? And I talked to them and I said, you need, I need to introduce you to somebody who's gone through the sort of speak to training things that I've done in the past, but generally it's gone through the same program. And so that person was standing a few feet away. I got them connected.And now this person is now going to help this other person to try and speak at a conference. That's how we promote the communities. You could never do that on a webinar.

Theresa

And I think one of the helpful things about conferences too, is. When you're only talking to, you know, the same people at the same company all the time, you can lose some perspective on what else might be happening out there in the community. So it it's really helpful to just go to conferences and be able to, to talk to different developers and different industry professionals to try to control some of those assumptions and biases that we, we might have developed in our own insular space. And I mean, that's the, the beauty of conferences and of open source in general, in my opinion.

Rohan

Yeah. I mean have we talked about how awesome it is to meet everybody in person again? But that aside it was, so oftentimes as like, if you're, if you're in the business of bringing new products to market or improving on them, the one thing that you want to do is - a;ways seek validation on whether you're solving the right problems. And the one thing about developers, as opposed to like other folks from another professional is that they tend to be very candid about what sucks. And it was good to tap into those challenges because it shows that what we are trying to do at Sonatype is the right problems or are the right problems to solve.And it's on us to solve it in a way that works well for everybody.

AJ Brown

Yeah. I mean, if you want to add on to that, I can, I can add a little bit. So as we went through that period of time, we were trying to do virtual conferences, virtual webinars, all these things. Right? I think the one thing that wasn't replaced is, what I joked about earlier, but I think it is a place where like a lot of conversations happen, is like the bar conversation. And I think Steve said it earlier, it's like, you do a webinar, whoever's doing the webinar, they sign off, they're done. Right. And then you go about your day, you know, never get hurt again. If you go to the conference, you know, the speaker might walk away or whatever. After the conference, they've got busy lives too. They want to be by themselves. But, usually you can catch somebody later in the casual setting, right. Whether it's a hotel bar or a sponsored bar band or whatever. Right. So that's an aspect that I don't think we ever figured out how to replace with the two years of virtual conferences. And I'm glad to see that back because like I said, a lot of conversations happen in those spaces.

Rishav

I think for me yes, just the fact that I could meet so many people. Going to conferences is something I love. I've been fortunate enough to go to a couple of before, two or three before, but just being able to talk to so many people meet everybody in this group, meet others. This was the first time I was meeting anybody from the company. I think it just energizes it's reenergized me. It's, you know, given a fresh lease of life, if you will. To the motivations and you know, and the culture the work culture in general. So I feel more involved and I think that's been awesome.

Kadi

So I think, to be honest, I think we have what we need. We touched on all those interviews. And we're able to get some good feedback in the beginning. So I think we are good. Thank you all for entertaining this idea and going with us and helping us do the interviews or Steve just connecting us with the right people.So I think that's it.

Tags: podcast, DevZone, Wicked Good Development

Written by Kadi Grigg

Kadi is passionate about the DevOps / DevSecOps community since her days of working at Micro Focus with COBOL development and Mainframe solutions. Since coming to Sonatype she's loved working with the Open Source community and seeing the collaboration across the industry.