Thursday, August 31, 2023 - 06:00
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At a Glance:

  • Involved in open source since: 2013
  • Works for: Self-employed
  • Eclipse Foundation contributor since: 2018
  • Involved in: Jakarta Bean Validation, Jakarta Config, Jakarta Data, Jakarta Interceptors, Jakarta JSON Binding, Jakarta Mail, Jakarta NoSQL, Eclipse JNoSQL, Eclipse UOMo, MicroProfile
  • Committer to: All of the above
  • Eclipse Foundation committer since: 2018
  • Fun fact: Can tell dad jokes in English, Italian, and Portuguese 

Can you tell me about your background as a developer?

I’m self-employed now, working mostly in the finance sector, and I’ve been a software developer for over a decade. 

My first contact with open source was when I was working for a software company in Brazil. In Brazil our relationship with open source is a bit different than other places. Most companies just consume open source and don’t contribute. But I wanted to understand how the code that we were using worked, and I wanted to learn from the best engineers and developers. So, based on that, I started to get more involved with the open source world.

What did that journey look like?

My first involvement with open source was with Java. I started to learn more about how to use it and how to integrate it. I was drawn to open source because I wanted to learn to be a better developer from the best developers, and at the time a lot of highly qualified developers were working on Java.

I got involved in the Java Community Process (JCP) Program, and several Java specifications, such as the Java Currency and Money API and Units of Measurement API, to name a couple.

I was also working on the specification that integrates Java with the NoSQL database, now known as Jakarta NoSQL, and did a presentation on it to the JCP committee. Mike Milinkovich was there and asked me about working on an implementation of it with the Eclipse Foundation. Of course, I said yes, and not too long after that Java EE transitioned to Jakarta EE — and the rest is history. 

What did you find exciting about joining the Eclipse Foundation?

The opportunity for networking is huge, of course. And it was an amazing opportunity for me to advance my career. The thing about Java EE/Jakarta EE is that while tons of people consume it and use it, there are comparatively very few people developing it and shaping the future of it. Just a few people have the skills to write Java EE/Jakarta EE specifications by themselves from scratch, and I wanted to be one of them. Being able to talk to, work with, and learn from those people was an incredible experience. 

How have you found your experience as a committer so far?

I’ve been a committer for five years at this point, and it’s been amazing. The Eclipse Foundation is a really innovative space with a real commitment to helping onboard people to new projects. And the people here are super passionate. Obviously, there are lots of opportunities to learn more about software development, but it’s also been a great way to improve my communication skills. I’ve been able to enhance both my hard skills and soft skills. 

One of the most surprising but rewarding aspects of being a committer is seeing and hearing your impact. For me, the most satisfying part of being a committer has always been the fact that I can make a positive impact on other people. You’re making other developers’ lives easier, giving them more effective tools and, ideally, bringing more people into open source. But a lot of the time you’re working in isolation and don’t see the effects of your work. Being able to go to a conference like EclipseCon is great for this. It really surprised me the first time I went to a conference and someone approached me to say thanks for my work on a project and that it made their life easier. That really made my day. 

Effective communication is always a challenge. My specialty is software, and it isn’t always easy to translate those thoughts into articles and documentation. Plus, I’m Brazilian, so my first language is Portuguese and I have to translate those thoughts into English. Plus, people have different backgrounds and cultures, speak different languages, work in different time zones; all these things make effective communication more challenging.

Any advice for someone considering getting more involved with open source?

Please join! Introduce yourself and watch for a little while to get familiar with the project: how it works, what people are trying to achieve, and how they’re going about it. Once you’ve done that, a great place to start is doing the jobs nobody else wants to do. For me, I’ve had success starting out helping with PR reviews, reading and giving feedback on documentation, and writing tests. Tests are great because almost no project will refuse more tests. 

And if you’re a young developer, open source is a fantastic opportunity. Not only can you improve both your hard coding skills and your soft communication and collaboration skills but it’s also an excellent way to build a portfolio. If someone wants to know what you’re capable of, you can point to your contributions. And the networking opportunities can really help you get noticed and your skills recognized.