“I contribute to Ember” with Serena Fritsch

Hello folks and welcome to the second 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 @serenaf and talk about her learnings in organising Ember meetups and making contributions to Ember learning projects easier for everyone!

How did you get started with using Ember and joining the community?

I started with Ember at around three and a half years ago when I joined Intercom. I joined [them] in July 2015 and at the time [they were] already using Ember. That was my first experience with Ember. I started working with Gavin Joyce who was already contributing a lot to the Ember scene at the time and the year after, Leah was contacting me to speak at Embercamp [London] - that was in 2016. […] I already knew the people at Intercom working with Ember and then at Embercamp it was my first time meeting the wider community, and I immediately fell in love with Ember. Everyone’s really nice, very friendly people.

How have you been contributing recently in regards to Ember?

My main focus last year was on the deprecations app. The deprecations app was one of the first apps that we migrated from a Rails app to an Ember app. So this was my main focus. And the last commit was actually adding search capability to the deprecations app with the help of Chris Manson…he’s amazing. […] Chris, Gavin and I are the organising the Ember meetups for Dublin, we are not doing them super regularly, but we’re trying to get that back on track in the next month or so. And then, the next thing will hopefully be working with the Ember Learning team to see where my help is really needed. Yeah. That’s the idea.

What made you initially interested in working on the deprecations app in particular?

I think this originally started out with Ricardo, one of the Ember Learning Core team members, and him adding a Github issue […] about the Rails app that was used at the time and to try something out [in the app] regarding changing the way the deprecations looked. I was really interested [in that] and this got me into the actual source code for the deprecations. And then I met with Chris last year [around Christmas] and we said: "It would be so much easier if this were an Ember app". And then we started to step-by-step change it to a native Ember app. […]

Did you see advantages in migrating the previous deprecations app to an Ember app?

Totally. […] Deprecations are very easy to contribute to if you know "how", right? If you know how to write text. So with this [new] Ember app we allowed even non-technical people to write just Markdown and then it could be translated into a visible deprecation which was already styled in the right format. And this was really super interesting to see: How can we get more people to contribute to Ember [easily]? At that time it was really painful to setup this Rails monolith we had with the Ember website and all these different parts. [And the question was] how can we make this easier for new contributors, so they don’t have to spend like three afternoons setting their system up to start contributing to the app? The deprecations app was an excellent example because later [people started to] just create a pull request in Markdown format and they didn’t even have to set up the app themselves - we had lots of cases like that [after migrating the deprecations app to an Ember app].

What has been your most important learning so far in regards to Ember?

Yeah, so this is a good question actually. I think the one thing is: Never hesitate to ask questions! Because everyone [in the community] is always super, super helpful; in the Discord channel there will always be someone to give an answer.

And then, the second one is - that’s one thing I sometimes struggle with myself: I would love to contribute more again. […] And I had this [idea] in my head. I had this bad feeling: “Oh my god, I’m not contributing every weekend, I have to do more.” And then Chris sat me aside at some stage and said: “No, you already did so much, even a tiny little contribution, even a PR fixing a typo in the Guides is a great contribution.” So kind of changing this mindset of feeling like you have to be productive all the time to help out. [But you help out] when you can! And with the help of many, we get to the point where we are.

Do you have one piece of advice for first-time contributors?

That’s a great question. Don’t hesitate to jump into the Discord channel! Ask questions there. Maybe get someone to mentor you or go with you through some stuff. I was really lucky that I had Chris for example, and I had people like [Jessica] and Jen and Ricardo who were always super helpful and who are my friends, my support network and who I can always ask questions! And people are so nice in the community, that there will always be someone like this.

Serena Fritsch, also known as @serenaf, is a Product Engineer at Intercom and a contributor to Ember. You can also find her on Twitter.