Hello folks and welcome to the first edition of the interview series “I contribute to Ember”, presented by the folks at The Ember Times
This week we’d like to highlight the work of contributor @hakilebara and talk about his learnings as an Ember learning project contributor and Ember meetup organizer!
How did you get started with using Ember?
I started using Ember a few years ago, even though I can’t remember the exact date. I wasn’t a developer at the time, I was working in a position that you would nowadays call a Dev-Ops or Sysadmin, I worked for a financial service provider. We had to manage an infrastructure spread across several data centers. We had many client lines connected to our routers. It was painful to keep an up to date list of all these lines and I wanted to have them all in one place - a web interface. Therefore, I transformed our routers’ config files into a PHP API and fed this API to a web interface. And at the time it was either Backbone, Angular or this framework called Ember. I read that Ember was made for ambitious web applications and that convinced me. And yeah that’s how I got started. And then I chose to make this my full-time job and become a software developer.
How have you been contributing to Ember recently?
I co-organize the Ember Paris meetup, the Paris EmberJS Lab and together with three other people. We try to have meetups once every two months and to engage the community in France and in Paris in particular. […] We have a core of people who show up to the meetups regularly at about 10 or 15 people. I hope 2019 will be a good year for the community in France because of all the new features coming up for the framework.
I also tried to contribute to the documentation and the code, but not so much lately. I’d like to help with the Ember Style Guide to move it to Ember CLI Docs - to have an online version of it that people can browse. I also helped with the Ember Help Wanted app and get the project going to have a first draft version of the app to get other people to take over. Right now I would like to try to continue working on the Ember Style Guide to develop components that we can reuse across Ember Learning apps and websites. I’m taking a look into working on the navbar component which Chris Manson has already been putting a lot of work into. The goal is to make it accessible according to Melanie Sumner’s guidelines. And I'm trying to read the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for accessibility - it’s very technical and challenging to read, daunting. I try, and I stop. laughs
What made you motivated to start working on the Ember Style Guide?
I have been lurking on the former Ember Community Chat for years before I submitted my first PR. I started contributing to the Docs, this is how I first got into contributing. I helped with fixing bugs, I tried to understand how the navbar is used on different Ember Learning sites: the website, the Guides, the Docs and I discovered this project, by browsing the list of repositories of the Ember Learn Github organisation and I was intrigued. […]
Also at the company, I worked at we had developed a style guide. We had developed components that were distributed by an addon across different apps. For their presentation, we were using Ember Freestyle and Ember CLI Docs, and I saw that Ember was doing the same thing - open-source. So I was seeing the contribution work as a way to learn about the setup; this was a motivation for me to start working on this project.
How do you make time for and keep yourself motivated to contribute to Ember?
I wish I had a better answer on how to do open-source. The most meaningful work I did, was back when I - after work - left the office and was going to a co-working space and submitting a few pull requests (PRs). […] I tried to keep contributing a few PRs on the side, but it took a lot of energy and work. Open-source takes a lot of time, but it’s also the first thing I drop if I have too many other things.
Compared to that, with the meetups the effort of getting something going is not so big: I can call the other orga nisers, we have a chat, and I don’t have to prepare much. I know we can do it together. And this is a relief actually. It has to be at least two of us [organising an event]. Not to be alone on this, it’s much easier.
Is there any piece of advice you can lend for first-time contributors?
It takes time. What I would advise is to be patient. In the beginning, I was really impatient. I didn’t understand why some things take so much time. I didn’t understand why some people would say that they work on something and then drop the ball. But then 6 months later, I saw that I did the exact same thing. And I think it’s normal. You can’t expect things to go really fast. Sometimes you have time to work on things, and you have a good run; Sometimes life catches up, and you don’t have time anymore. […] And it is still important to keep a positive attitude and to try to not just arrive with problems but with possible solutions.
[…] Showing up is another really important one. Read the issues, read the Ember Times. Stay up to date. And for organising meetups, I’d say: Keep showing up as well and keep coordinating events. When people see that you’re arranging things, it proves that you’re serious about it and the more people see you, the more they understand that you’re here to stay.
Finally, what helped me to contribute was that Gaurav invited me to join the weekly video call of the Learning Team. Before, I thought I had to be part of the team, that you had to be officially invited or something. I didn’t know that the calls are open to the public and people can just join and listen. If you can, join the weekly Ember Learn meetings, it’s a great place to get started!