Monday, May 30, 2022 - 06:00
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At a Glance: Robert Kratky

  • Involved in open source since: 2002
  • Works for: Red Hat
  • Eclipse Foundation contributor since: 2018
  • Involved in: Eclipse Che
  • Committer to: Eclipse Che
  • Eclipse Foundation committer since: 2018
  • Fun fact: Robert used to suffer from stage fright, but since getting involved with open source and presenting at several conferences, he’s become a proficient public speaker.

Tell us a bit about your role at Red Hat 

My main tasks at Red Hat are writing documentation and facilitating the creation of documentation. I’m not a developer. I do write some scripts and short programs, but that work is connected to my role taking care of various documentation projects. I’ve been doing this kind of work for more than 20 years now, and a lot of my current documentation work is for upstream projects. 

How did you first get involved with open source? 

Like many people, I started using open source because the other offerings, particularly in the field of operating systems, just weren’t cutting it for me. I started out using FreeBSD and contributing on-and-off to various pieces of documentation. From there I moved on to Linux, translating various programs I used daily, since my native language is Czech. I would also try to improve the documentation and the application localization while I was at it. That brought me into the broader open source community and, in the end, to Red Hat and the Eclipse Foundation.

How did you become involved with the Eclipse Foundation?

One of the projects we’re working on at Red Hat is Eclipse Che. It’s an integrated development environment, similar to Eclipse IDE, but it runs in a browser window and only the UI is rendered on the client computer. I got involved with the documentation first as a technical writer, then as a content strategist, where I supported other technical writers and facilitated their efforts to ensure the project kept moving forward and the documentation was always accessible.

What has your experience working with the Eclipse Foundation been like? 

I’ve been a committer on other projects at other open source foundations. The difference with the Eclipse Foundation is the organization is meticulous. There’s a solid background and an assurance of continuity, especially through the Eclipse Cloud DevTools Working Group. The work we’ve been doing has been so much simpler because of the process rules that have already been established. 

Have you encountered any challenges, or anything unexpected, as a committer?

I did say there is a great framework and environment to work in. However, not all the processes are entirely transparent right from the start. You have to do your fair share of reading ahead of time to make sure you understand all the ins and outs of the development processes. 

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

I’ll continue to support Eclipse Che and its documentation. We’ve been able to develop that project and it’s flourishing, so I’m pretty proud of that. I’ve also had the opportunity to mentor some people who’ve gone on to become committers. I hope to continue that work as well. 

What advice would you have for someone who is considering getting more involved in open source projects at the Eclipse Foundation?

Get involved with the documentation. You can start contributing before you fully understand the code or other aspects of the project. By becoming a documentation contributor, you have the chance to get your hands dirty with the project itself, and gain some visibility, without necessarily needing a lot of expertise. Also, documentation is not everyone’s favorite thing. Chances are the project team is going to be very happy to have someone contributing to documentation. It’s a win-win.