I’ve had this question on my mind a while, as I’ve heard quite a few times that all ‘real’ programmers have an open source project, and nobody will take you seriously if you dont have one. Supposedly there is also a book, somewhere, that states this. I bet there are quite a few books out there that does that.
I’ve heard this comment myself many times, and heard it even more during the Öredev conference. And yesterday I got a comment on the blog (and please let me just say that this was a friendly comment – no bad intentions! Just a friendly poke!) under my first year of programming blog post: And now we are just waiting for an open source project from you.
Here is the deal. I know many great developers that have open source projects or are heavy contributors, I have seen first-hand how much time, love and dedication that takes. It’s not exactly a 30 min a week type of project. I don’t have an open source project. Why? It is really very simple. I don’t have time. Here is a typical month for me (and I haven’t had a vacation in 2.5 years):
Work for two awesome companies, so work is about 60-70 h a week.
Almost weekly I organize and host Sweden Pluralsight Study Group
Judging by my schedule there seems to be a conference talk once a month
And I often do the same talk for uni students that, due to economic reasons, cannot attend, so once a month for uni students as well.
As for my blog, I blog every day if not more– solutions and guides. Code is made available but kept on the blog.
While not too often, I answer questions on MSDN and SO etc. plus on emails etc.
I am involved with several newsletters – and I write for two on monthly basis
Since I can’t stop talking or writing you’ll find me rather active in the community, on facebook, G+, Twitter, and my beloved skype (feel free to contact me, I love to chat)
And I file bug reports on open source projects a few times a week, and I blog about solutions to bugs – so I contributing in that sense I guess
And did I mention I am still a fulltime student? Yeah. I am. I got my final exam project coming up, and I have no idea how the fruit I’ll manage to squeeze that in my schedule. It’s a node project with express.js, jade, stylus, knockout, kendo and couch db and am extremely excited about it!
So honestly I just don’t have time for an open source project. I’ve gotten other opportunities to contribute to the community, and I’ve chosen to use them. But I would never ever judge somebody that does not do the things I do, or a person that does not have capacity or interest in doing so. I have many ideas for open source projects but I don’t have time, yet, but maybe next year.
But for those that said to me, nobody will take you seriously as a developer if you don’t have an open source project, I would like to know why not? And, really??
My answer is:
As long as you contribute in one way or another that is awesome. It might be a massive open source project, a tiny user group, or just teaching your kids how to program. Even the smallest effort is something I consider a contribution and all contributions are welcome. Do what you can do, not what others tell you to do,- and believe me when I say that everybody has something to give so don’t sell yourself short by not pushing yourself. But the choice is yours and I will not judge you.