SPOTIFY

Q&A with the Maintainers of the Spotify FOSS Fund



June 23, 2022
Published by Per Ploug, Open Source Tech Lead



TL; DR We recently announced the 2022 recipients of the Spotify FOSS Fund, which we created to help support the open source projects we use at Spotify. As this was the first time we’ve made direct financial contributions to independent open source projects, we wanted to learn more about what kind of impact our contributions might have. So we asked the maintainers of MUI, Byte Buddy, Testcontainers, QOS.CH, and Yarn to share their thoughts – about the fund, life as independent maintainers, and more.

Here’s what they had to say about the challenges of maintaining popular open source projects, what kind of impact the funds will have on their work, and other ways we can support the community. (Note: some responses have been edited for length and clarity.)

Olivier Tassinari, MUI

Olivier (oliviertassinari) is co-founder and CEO at MUI, living and working in Paris.

“If every company would set up a FOSS fund, it would have a big impact on the dynamic of open source.”

How will these funds go towards supporting the future of the project?

The fund is going straight to the non-profit MUI organization. The donation will be used to fund developers’ time on MIT licensed code, most likely MUI Core. This non-profit MUI organization supports the engineering effort of valued long-term community contributors.

What kind of impact do you think FOSS funds have on the open source ecosystem in general? Is any amount welcome?

The impact of FOSS funds depends on the order of magnitude of the contribution but any amount helps. To get an order of magnitude, a strong engineer working for one of the big four in the US costs above 200k USD / year to the organization. If every company would set up a FOSS fund, it would have a big impact on the dynamic of open source.

In addition to the money, does exposure from the fund provide value, as well?

Yes, exposure from the fund has marketing value for our project. MUI being one of the few projects that Spotify decided to fund is social proof. It’s helping us to convert interested visitors into users.

What are other ways you think the community and / or companies can better support open source?

The question is too broad for me to give a valuable answer. I think it depends too much on the context. A generic answer would be: contribute to the business model of open source, regardless of its nature – [whether considering] The joy maintainers experience during their free time, the hiring hedge a big four [company gains, or] the commercial revenues of a company, etc.

Rafael Winterhalter, Byte Buddy

Rafael (@raphw) is a full-stack software consultant, living and working in Oslo.

“Bootstrapping is the hardest part, even with Byte Buddy I almost gave up multiple times as it’s often been too much as an after hours project.”

What kind of impact do you think FOSS funds have on the open source ecosystem in general?

You can make money from open source, but if one only considers the bits that are likely attracting commercial clients, an open source library turns out much different. Getting money for open source that is not bound to a particular client’s problem allows you to explore new features or to rewrite documentation without sacrificing your own time or income. It gives you a much better feeling to have a pot of cash to compensate yourself from time taken away from my billable hours.

In addition to the money, does exposure from the fund provide value?

I think most funded projects are already visible. Recurring donations can however give confidence in a project’s survival as funding guarantees maintenance to some degree. Personally, I do not accept donations from individuals. It’s a nice gesture but small amounts do not help as I cannot spontaneously wind down clients for a day to work on something else. Larger or consistent payments on the other hand are however tremendously helpful as they can compensate for turning down some work to rather work on open source without burning a hole into your pocket.

What are other ways you think the community and / or companies can better support open source?

Scholarships would be a great option as donations are very non-committal. If I had an idea for a good project, submitted it, and could receive half a year’s funding to realize it, I might even start something else some day. Bootstrapping is the hardest part, even with Byte Buddy I almost gave up multiple times as it’s often been too much as an after hours project. Maintenance can be more easily split up to a few hours a week, but bootstrapping requires a lot more effort. I think there could be many more great open source libraries if people got a chance to write them.

Sergei Egorov, Testcontainers

Sergei (bsideup) is co-founder of AtomicJar and Testcontainers, living and working in NYC.

We all learned from the log4j story that the OSS security is critical. But that’s also something that FOSS developers sometimes can’t afford – security audits.

How will these funds go towards supporting the future of the project?

Our community and contributors is what makes Testcontainers strong and healthy. We want to give back to the community by sponsoring contributions and encouraging more people to participate while also being financially rewarded for it. There are a few great examples such as JHipster, and we want to follow their success.

What kind of impact do you think FOSS funds have on the open source ecosystem in general? Is any amount welcome? In addition to the money, does exposure from the fund provide value, as well?

I would definitely say that any amount is welcome, because this isn’t only about the money, but the support The projects are getting from these funds that usually have big names behind it. The fact that you, Spotify, found time to sponsor a project, is a value contributed to it, because others will see it as an endorsement in some sense. And in the FOSS world, endorsements mean a lot, they create trust.

What are other ways you think the community and / or companies can better support open source?

We all learned from the log4j story that the OSS security is critical. But that’s also something that FOSS developers sometimes can’t afford – security audits, or just having someone with security background to review the code and prevent non-secure code being released. The bigger the companies, the more chances that they have a security department and / or partners, so maybe allocating some of their time to review OSS projects that are being used by the company would be a great way to prevent the next Log4JShell?

Ceki Gülcü, QOS.CH

Ceki (ceki) is the founder of log4j 1, logback, SLF4J, and reload4j, living and working in Vaud, Switzerland.

“By providing funds, users of OSS projects show that they care. Moreover, it reinforces the notion that it is worthwhile for the maintainers to continue working on OSS. ”

What kind of impact do you think FOSS funds have on the open source ecosystem in general?

Regarding the use of funds, I should first note that sponsorship of OSS projects does not seem to be widespread. (The infrastructure put in place by GitHub may signal a change in that regard.) The current situation where many critical open source software (OSS) projects survive only by the sheer will of the maintainers, is not a particularly healthy situation. By providing funds, users of OSS projects show that they care. Moreover, it reinforces the notion that it is worthwhile for the maintainers to continue working on OSS.

In addition to the money, does exposure from the fund provide value, as well?

By sponsoring an OSS project, the sponsors benefit from good publicity whereas a sponsored project benefits from increased confidence by the public in its long-term viability. In any case, your sponsorship is most welcome and will be put to good use maintaining the SLF4J / logback and reload4j projects.

Maël Nison, Yarn

Maël (arcanis) is lead maintainer for Yarn and senior software engineer at Data Dog, living and working in Paris.

“Always remember the humans behind the projects: stay positive, assume good intent, praise good work, and perhaps someday come help implement a feature or two!”

How will these funds go towards supporting the future of the project?

We plan to use it in the next few months to rework our website’s look and feel – past iterations were done by our own team, and being able to commission professional designers will make a big difference! Once that’s done, I’d like to find a way to fly out all our contributors to the same conference so we can finally meet in real life.

What kind of impact do you think FOSS funds have on the open source ecosystem in general? Is any amount welcome?

Any amount is definitely welcome! Higher amounts like the Spotify grant let projects address more concrete issues, but even smaller ones are a great way to express support for projects and teams you like. As maintainers we tend to see a lot of bug reports of all kinds, so seeing that people like what we do enough to donate is a great way to remind us of the positive impact we have, which lowers the chances of “OSS burn out. ”

What are other ways you think the community and / or companies can better support open source?

Don’t be strangers! It’s always nice to see someone pop onto our Discord channel and tell us their success story of adopting the project we work on. And, generally speaking, always remember the humans behind the projects: stay positive, assume good intent, praise good work, and perhaps someday come help implement a feature or two!

More to come

As we said when we announced the fund, this is just the start. We learned a lot this first round and will build on these learnings as we continue to invest in this worldwide community of passionate developers and their amazing projects. In the meantime, you can read more about all of the 2022 recipients and the other ways we’re doubling down on our open source future, both inside and outside Spotify.

Tags: engineering leadership





Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button