Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 06:00
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At a Glance: Raymond Augé 

  • Involved in open source since: 2002
  • Works for: Liferay
  • Eclipse Foundation contributor since: 2005
  • Involved in: OSGi Technology, OSGi Specification, Jakarta Annotations, Equinox, Eclipse Transformer
  • Committer to: All the above, as well as being the project lead for OSGi Technology
  • Eclipse Foundation committer since: 2007
  • Fun fact: Despite a long career in the tech sector, Augé works from his home out in the country, on the north shore of Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario, Canada.

How did you first get involved in open source?

I was a late start to the software industry because I’d already had a previous career in industrial maintenance. I started consuming open source software during my university years, from 2000 to 2004. I sent my first pull request to an open source project around that time, in 2002, to Red Hat’s GCJ Native Java Compiler. It was a very small contribution, as you’d expect from somebody who’s just learning the ropes. Around 2005, I started working for Liferay out of California, one of the largest self-funded open source companies. I’ve been working there for 17 years or so.

What resonated with me the most about open source was the open collaboration and the community of like-minded software engineers. Coming from an industrial maintenance career, I very much appreciated the nature of the structure of how you would bring a product forward, from development to release and usability.

How did that lead to becoming a contributor to the Eclipse Foundation?

My first encounter with the Eclipse Foundation was in the world of OSGi, back when the OSGi Working Group was the OSGi Alliance. I wanted to implement several of the specifications that were coming out. We had certain needs for specifications at Liferay, and we wanted to build those as part of open standards. Implementing them at the Eclipse Foundation, with all the great people there, was kind of a no-brainer. You knew that the level of quality was going to be very high. 

How would you summarize your experience as a committer?

For me, it has been extremely rewarding. It is a part of my day-to-day work. The open source interactions I get to benefit from, in the communities I’m part of, keep me motivated and energized. The people I’ve become friends with and interact with on a regular basis that otherwise I would never have met have been incredibly enriching. I’ve learned so much, I couldn’t even try to quantify it. Within the Eclipse Foundation, I have met some of the most important mentors I’ve had in my software engineering experience. 

Was there anything particularly unexpected or challenging about your experience?

I wouldn’t say so, probably because I was an observer for longer than I was a contributor in the beginning. Contributing to an open source project takes confidence, and when you’re new, you don’t have that confidence, so you educate yourself and get familiar with the processes. So, I was relatively familiar with the processes before I became a committer. 

What are your goals as a committer?

I always strive to participate more, which is becoming increasingly difficult as I get older. One thing I’ve been telling myself, as I get older and closer to retirement, is that I’ll probably do more work in open source after I retire simply because it’s such an enjoyment for me. 

So, for me, the goals are to continue to try to find time to participate where I can contribute. I have taken to trying to help other communities adopt modularity in their projects. To improve the quality of the open source ecosystem by bringing those values and that information to other projects that perhaps don’t have the manpower or the knowledge to implement it but do have the willingness. So, if there’s a willingness there, I like to take the opportunity to contribute the necessary aspects or features that will make their lives easier.

What would you say to developers considering becoming more involved in open source projects at the Eclipse Foundation?

I would say, do it: there’s no reason not to contribute, especially in such a welcoming community. The benefits of the experience, of getting to know people, and the opportunity to learn skillsets that you may not be able to access if you’re entry-level and working in a large organization are hard to overstate.

There is zero downside to participating in open source. There is only upside, and it’s an experience that can’t be replaced by anything else.