“I contribute to Ember” with Robert Wagner


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Hello folks and welcome to the fifth edition of the interview series “I contribute to Ember”, presented by the folks at The Ember Times :slight_smile:

This week we’d like to highlight the work of contributor @rwwagner90 and talk about his work on the Ember Inspector, his motivation to contribute and how to make one’s first pull request a real success.

How did you get started with using Ember?

I started using Ember in 2012, while working with a startup, Mail Pilot. They had decided on using Ember because it was what Apple had used for MobileMe. I had not used Ember previously, but immediately fell in love with Ember’s ergonomics.

I had a few jobs using other frameworks as well, but starting in 2015, when I created my first Ember addon, I was all in on Ember and never looked back.

What have you been working on recently (in regards to Ember community contributions)?

I have been working a lot on the Shepherd 2.0 release and ember-shepherd recently. We did a complete overhaul of Shepherd and modernized everything, and updated ember-shepherd accordingly. It was one of the first addons I created, and is still going strong today.

I am also working a lot on Ember Inspector, and we are beginning to make the changes necessary for everything to work with Ember Octane. This will include support for the new file structure, angle bracket components, etc.

I run the Ember.js DC meetups, and we are planning one for February, which will be an EmberConf preview with myself, Lisa Backer, and James C. Davis doing dry runs of our EmberConf and BonusConf talks.

My BonusConf talk, Ember Data - It’s Not Just for JSON API Anymore, will cover, as the name suggests, using Ember Data with nonstandard APIs. It will break things down into layman’s terms, and explain how to do things like manually adding links and relationships, combining several API calls into one, catching a 404 and creating default records instead of erroring out, and many more custom cases.

What made you interested in contributing to the Ember Inspector in particular?

I was working a lot with the Ember Learning team in 2018 and it had been brought up a few times in the Learning team meetings that Ember Inspector needed some love. I’m always looking to help out however I can, so I decided to give it a shot.

I was unaware that the Inspector was actually an Ember app itself, which made contributing to it much more familiar. It did take a while to decipher some of the logic from the ember_debug side of things, but once I got the hang of it, it felt very cool to be working on a tool that essentially all Ember developers rely on every day to be able to do their jobs.

What’s your biggest motivation to contribute to Ember in general?

Ember makes doing my job every day an enjoyable experience and saves me tons of time I would have to spend configuring build tools, setting up routers, and many other things that other frameworks would require. I want to help keep Ember chugging along, so that others can experience the same great developer experience for years to come.

Is there any piece of advice you can lend to first-time contributors?

It can be very intimidating, when first looking at repos for projects like Ember, but don’t be scared to contribute! Start small and ask for help early and often. The Ember community is one of the best communities I have encountered, and everyone genuinely wants to help you succeed. I spent countless hours on IRC, then Slack, and now Discord asking for help with things and there are always friendly people on ready and willing to help.


Robert Wagner, also known as @rwwagner90, is the founder of Ship Shape and a contributor to Ember. You can also find him on Twitter.