I have maintained in one form or another open source for close to 10 years.
I recently helped form the Apache Tuweni project, and the project is slowly making its way through the baptism of fire of issuing its first releases and reaching complete legal compliance. Along the way, I get asked by other developers what this project will become and how long I will maintain it.
I find both questions incongruous. While I happen to have been around to push the project to the ASF, I don’t have a leadership position and I certainly don’t dictate a roadmap. All I can do is put my best code forward and review contributions from others to make the project a success.
As for my role as a maintainer, I certainly plan to maintain the project forever. That however doesn’t mean what folks in traditional software development projects imagine. Everything I do is under my own time on a best effort basis, with no guarantee of quick fixes, or a rapid response on the lists.
It’s not what you think. It’s never about code. My measure of success is to see the code of Apache Tuweni used elsewhere and allowing a thousand flowers, or p2p apps, to bloom. What is absolutely critical to me is to foster adoption and grow a community of developers and projects using this code — already spotted in the wild several times!
One of the greatest barriers of Tuweni to succeed is to encourage users, contributors and the community at large to communicate and start building things together. It looks like email in 2019 is just not cutting it anymore. Not one contributor or user used email to reach out, preferring Keybase, Telegram or Twitter.
It also looks like reassessing how the projects runs and the ideals of the Apache Way need to be explained to new entrants. Amazingly, the blockchain crowd seems to lack understanding of open source old beards like me have been accustomed to. I have been enjoying a regimen of legal advice, patent troll encounters, copyright vs license discussions and even a taste of various open source foundations models to situate myself. I feel like this is lost on the new generation.
I’m excited for the future of this project. We have at hand the ability to unleash ground breaking, peer to peer applications that will reshape Internet. Join us!