Monday, March 25, 2024 - 11:07
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At a Glance:

  • Involved in open source since: 2023

  • Works for: Elektrobit

  • Eclipse Foundation contributor since: 2023

  • Involved in: Eclipse Ankaios

  • Committer to: Eclipse Ankaios

  • Eclipse Foundation committer since: 2023

  • Fun fact: Kaloyan is an avid runner and cycler, and sometimes finds he works through software challenges better while hitting the pavement than in front of the screen.

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

I’ve been a software developer and architect for over a decade now. I got started working on distributed systems. This was just before the cloud was everywhere, and the product was focused on on-premises systems. 

After working on that for a while, I started getting interested in the idea of working in the automotive industry and digging deeper into more embedded use cases. I ended up joining Elektrobit, and I’ve been there ever since. I started on a team developing navigation systems and eventually became the lead developer for that team.

How did that lead you into the open source world?

I reoriented again inside Elektrobit, going from working on navigation systems to working on connectivity. We were figuring out ways to bring data from the vehicle to the cloud. Eventually, we started thinking about things the other way around: How can we bring cloud-based technologies inside the vehicle? This is really where the Eclipse Ankaios project got started. 

It started as a research project, and we looked around at the available technologies to see if there was something we could tweak or modify. Originally, we thought about just making some adjustments to Kubernetes. But the core concepts behind Kubernetes just don’t address the pain points of the automotive sector, so we decided that it made more sense to build something ourselves. 

From day one, the plan was for the project to end up being open source. An orchestrator like Ankaios is really a perfect candidate for development in the community because it’s something that can only take off if it’s a widely accepted standard. Getting it into open source would help us significantly to understand the exact demands towards the product and get the largest and most talented community possible to work on this project with us.

How did you end up becoming a committer?

When Ankaios joined the Eclipse Foundation in 2023, I went with it. And as one of the principal members of the project, it only made sense that I would become a committer on it as well. 

I was very excited when we got the acceptance to join the Eclipse Foundation. Obviously, I’d encountered and used open source software before since my university days — it’s pretty much everywhere in the software industry. But this would be my first time making a significant contribution to an open source project.

How have you found that experience?

It’s been very interesting. The open source process is actually quite similar to the standard software development process. You document what you want to accomplish, what the problems are, brainstorm some solutions, discuss with your team what the best ones are, and then you get to work implementing them. 

The only difference is that in the closed source world, your team is the nucleus of activity, and everything is centred around them. In open source, the project is the constant, and it’s open to anyone and everyone. While you may be used to sort of drawing back the curtain on a project and just conferring with the core team about what to do and how to do it, in open source you have to keep all that deliberation and communication out in the open. 

What have you found most rewarding about being a committer?

Seeing pull requests and activity in and around the project is definitely the most rewarding aspect of being a committer. It’s very inspiring and encouraging to see that you’re working on something that people want and need. 

Plus, this is the lifeblood of any open source project. When you see a buzz of activity around your code, you know that the project is growing and taking on a life of its own, which is always how you get the most interesting ideas and best code in the end. 

Do you have any particular goals as a committer or Eclipse Foundation community member?

We’re really looking to build inroads in the Eclipse Software Defined Vehicle (SDV) community and with other projects under its banner at the foundation. One interesting thing about the automotive sector is that the quality demands it places on software are both strict and well-defined. So, we’re actively looking to be part of that discussion with the Eclipse SDV Working Group and the other projects at the foundation to help integrate those effectively with the open source development process.

And, of course, there are lots of opportunities for our project to integrate with others in the SDV space to deliver even greater value to our end users. So, I’m actively working on that as well. 

Any thoughts for someone considering becoming a committer or getting more involved?

I think there’s sometimes some hesitation, particularly from more junior developers, to make pull requests, post issues, or ask questions, like they feel that they’re somehow bothering us. Don’t be. Hearing that someone is actively using your code, asking questions about it, engaging with it, is one of the most rewarding parts of working in open source. So, expressing interest is the opposite of a bother!

All contributions are welcome, even from more junior developers. In fact, like most projects, we have work that’s specifically aimed at helping newer developers cut their teeth and get more involved. Really, the best way for more junior developers to learn is by actively trying to contribute to a project, and projects welcome those contributions wholeheartedly.