Thursday, September 30, 2021 - 07:00
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At a Glance: Sebastian Schildt

  • Involved in open source since: The late 1990s
  • Works for: Robert Bosch GmbH
  • Eclipse Foundation contributor since: 2017
  • Involved in: Eclipse Kuksa
  • Committer to: Eclipse Kuksa
  • Committer since: 2020
  • Fun facts: Sebastian has visited North Korea and enjoys ballroom dancing.

Why did you first get involved in open source software communities?

Like a lot of people, I started using Linux in the 1990s. I would go to the support groups, mailing lists, and news groups, and slowly, I started contributing to open source and writing bug reports.

In 2009 when I was at university working on my Ph.D., I became involved in an open source networking protocol stack for delay-tolerant networking called IBR-DTN. That’s when I started contributing to open source in earnest, and when I first became visible in an open source community.

Then, in 2017, I became involved in the APPSTACLE research project with some university partners and the Eclipse Foundation through my work at Bosch. That project became the Eclipse Kuksa platform for connected car ecosystems.

How did that involvement lead to you becoming a committer at the Eclipse Foundation?

Myself and a couple of my colleagues became the main contributors to Eclipse Kuksa.val, a major component of the Eclipse Kuksa project that implements a cross-industry standardized interface in a vehicle. When people wanted to add features or bug fixes, those changes went through us because we knew if they were technically workable.

When the Eclipse Kuksa project evolved, and we were extending and using it in several projects, it made sense to have the people who were already most involved with the software as committers. Therefore, my employer, Bosch, let me and a colleague become official Eclipse Foundation committers. Our case study, Eclipse Kuksa Breaks Down Automotive Silos to Provide a Platform for Vehicle-To-Cloud Connectivity, provides more insight into APPSTACLE, Kuksa, and the relationship with the Eclipse Foundation.

How would you summarize your experiences as a committer?

I like to work on open source, to help other people make successful contributions, and to watch a project grow. But it can be a bit stressful. If I receive contributions from people who haven’t been involved in the project before, I really pressure myself to review the code quickly and provide feedback. I want to motivate them to keep contributing, and I feel I owe it to them to react to their contribution in a very timely way.

I was surprised to learn how strict the Eclipse Foundation is about processes and license issues. It’s good because we want to ensure our software can be used by partners, universities, and companies, but it’s more work than I expected.

What are your next steps and goals as a committer and Eclipse Foundation community member?

My goals are centered around the Eclipse Kuksa project. I’m always trying to get more people working on the project and contributing to the code.

What would you say to developers who are considering getting more involved in open source software projects at the Eclipse Foundation?

Just do it! Don’t overthink it and start with small things — make small changes or write bug reports.

Also, the Eclipse Foundation community is a real bonus compared to a random lonely project on GitHub. There are events such as EclipseCon as well as small conferences and symposiums. And there are opportunities to meet and network with people in different working groups and top-level projects, which is also quite nice.