Nine Months of Commits30 Jan 2016
It is hard to believe that already nine months have passed since the onset of my Year of Commits. In these past nine months, I have experienced a wide range of new aspects of open source development. This has truly been an eye opening experience, with many facets I doubt I would have experienced otherwise.
An unexpected and fortuitous side effect of my Year of Commits has manifested as a significant boost in my overall coding confidence. Confidence is a very important aspect of anyone’s life. Without confidence, a person may place objectives out of reach or deem them too arduous to achieve. Believing in one’s self and having the confidence to stand up when knocked down is a trait that carries a lot of weight, especially when writing software.
Writing software can be a very subjective endeavor. Especially in languages like Ruby, there are many solutions to the same problem. These subtle differences can spark myriad conversations or criticisms of a person’s code. For those fortunate enough to write code for a living, think back to the times a pull request saw the most attention and accrued the most comments. Chances are, those comments pointed out style choice discrepancies or “we do not do it that way” assertions.
Maintaining a steady level of confidence in the midst of such feedback is paramount. I am lucky enough to have received feedback from many different people in many different situations. This feedback and perspective help inoculate a developer and encourage them to remember they are not their code.
Another exciting event since my last year of commits update pertains to Github issues. Github is a fantastic piece of software responsible for managing git repositories and enabling collaboration amongst developers. An issue may be opened by anyone with a Github account on any public repository of their choosing. These issues have been the primary avenue I have used to find which projects need help and what I can do to help them.
My excitement stems from the fact that, for the first time since I started Year of Commits, other developers have engaged with one of my projects (passages) and submitted some issues! Having consumers of software one builds is a great feeling. An even greater feeling is when those people care enough to submit issues they think can better the project.
Becoming part of the open source community was a goal of this endeavor and I am thrilled to have taken my first few steps towards accomplishing that goal.
Practice makes perfect. When reading code you did not write, knowing where to start and identifying patterns in code organization helps a great deal. Since the goal of Year of Commits was to contribute to my own and other people’s code, I have been reading a lot of code that I did not write. This has been a fantastic learning experience for me. At a typical software engineering job, coworkers’ code starts to blend styles and eventually become fairly homogeneous.
By reading code written by many different people, new patterns and styles add a level of depth to code grokking that is hard to replicate in other ways. I came to appreciate this accidentally discovered benefit of Year of Commits so much, I wrote a whole post describing the process for foreign code traversal.
The Home Stretch
Year of Commits ends in April of 2016. Between now and then, I hope to learn even more about the open source software ecosystem and community. This project has had an incredibly positive affect on my life and I would prescribe something similar to anyone interested. My only goal between now and April is to have made a real contribution to a high visibility project.
The positive feedback I have received about this blog and the work that I have been doing helps make this easy. I would like to say thank you again to everyone on this journey with me.