Friday, July 29, 2022 - 00:00
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At a Glance:

  • Involved in open source since: 2009
  • Works for: IBM
  • Eclipse Foundation contributor since: 2009
  • Involved in: Eclipse Orbit Project
  • Committer to: Eclipse JDT, Eclipse Platform, Eclipse Orbit Project
  • Eclipse Foundation committer since: 2014
  • Fun fact: Whenever she’s feeling stressed, Sarika likes to do yoga to help herself relax.

Can you tell us a bit about your background as a developer?

I’ve been a developer for over 22 years, 14 of which I’ve spent with IBM. Before I joined IBM, I only knew of  Eclipse as an IDE; I never knew that there was an Eclipse Foundation behind it. Even in my first involvement with the Eclipse Foundation through IBM back in 2009, the Web Tools Platform (WTP), I wasn’t aware of the bigger picture. 

What have you mainly been working on with the Eclipse Foundation?

I was mostly focused on the WTP initially. From there, I went on to work on another product, the Rational Software Architect, and then onto the full Eclipse Platform and Eclipse JDT development. Since then, Eclipse development has been my main work. 

The Eclipse Foundation was really my first exposure to open source development. So, seeing the way things have been done and are being managed, and have been for the last 20 years, was attractive to me. Plus, the opportunity to learn from so many different people from so many different countries, even without meeting them but just by their comments, has been beautiful. 

How did you go from being a contributor to being a committer?

I worked for some time on the WTP, and was supposed to be nominated for committer, but the team ended up getting scattered. From there I moved onto the Eclipse Platform and JDT, and after a couple of months, I started to get a good grasp on what was happening there. I had some excellent mentors there as well. So, I worked through development of some new features and debugging, and then I was nominated to become a committer, first for JDT and then for the platform. That was in 2014. 

You’re also a project lead on Eclipse JDT and Eclipse Platform. How has your experience changed going from contributor to committer to project lead?

The expectation on you as a contributor is simply that you deliver on your features. But as you grow, gain more experience, and become a committer or a project lead, your responsibilities change. Your main priority becomes the overall project. Your focus is helping direct other contributors, to make sure they understand our guidelines and that the features they’re working on fit into the broader picture. 

There’s satisfying work to be done every step of the way. As a contributor, I was very happy with some of the features I developed for JDT that were useful to others. And, later on, as a committer and lead, I’ve been very much enjoying helping and learning from others.

There have also been some interesting challenges, particularly when it comes to time management and prioritization. You might have 10 people asking about different things, as well as things happening in the mailing list and in the forum threads, and you have to be constantly able to prioritize them. 

What advice do you have for someone considering getting involved with open source or becoming a committer?

There’s no better way to work with all kinds of people from around the world than working in open source. I’d highly recommend it.

As a committer, you want to be thinking about what’s best for the long term for a particular component or for the project. Often, we’re motivated by something we feel is lacking. When we contribute something, we may feel that we’ve done it perfectly, but there may be better ways. Sometimes you need to accept the comments and advice; sometimes you need to stand up for yourself. Either way, the focus has to be on ensuring the code is high-quality.