Hey all! Long time, no post, I know…
Right now, you’re probably wondering one of two things: “Who are you?” or “This is very interesting.”
Let’s start with my backstory first, to catch the first group up. Then we’ll go from there.
I’m a developer, born and raised. My first computer was a Texas Instruments 99-4A, where I became addicted to Scott Adam’s Pirate’s Adventure (Say Yoho!) text-based RPG. I named my short-hair collie Cecil after Final Fantasy II (US-release version #), the greatest RPG story line ever (not to mention the greatest dog as well). I double-majored in Computer Science and Mathematics at Mississippi State, where I worked as a developer on the WebTOP project, using VRML and Visual J++ to simulate physics lab experiments on the web.
But let’s just get to the interesting part…
Upon graduation, I went to work for Microsoft. Yep, Microsoft, where I was for the past 9 years. (Don’t worry, it’s cool. Keep reading.) I ran RedHat in college, constantly hitting freshmeat.net (“never dot-com, never dot-org,” as I was warned) as my one-stop shop for all things Linux. Next thing I know, I’m graduating and moving to Seattle for personal reasons, so I decided to interview with Microsoft to check them out. I ended up joining the Visual Studio team as a developer on their automation framework. I’ll never forget my first day, where I asked my officemates, “um, what’s the command-line equivalent of ‘ls’ to look up files in a directory?” If you want to talk about some strange looks, come find me sometime.
OSS @ MSFT
Roughly 5 years ago, I decided to move from engineering to program management, because I wanted to work more with communities. I’ll never forget being asked by my first PM manager, “Do you want to work in the forums, or do you want to work with Visual Studio plug-ins as open source projects on this soon-to-be released forge site called CodePlex.com?” (I’m heavily paraphrasing, btw.) I’m so glad I said “open source,” because I wouldn’t trade my OSS @ MSFT adventures for the world, like getting to spray paint “Embrace Open Source” on my Microsoft office window to jumping off a building to promote Open Source at Microsoft.
But imagine 5 years ago. A program manager trying to figure out how to open source development from within Microsoft. I was fortunate enough to attend OSCON 2006 and take back some incredible lessons. We even filmed the discussion of me bringing back the info I learned and the changes we would make to our development cycle, while having a member of the Microsoft Open Source Software Lab in the room. (Link to video and presentation). When CodePlex.com went live around that time, my team had 3 of the first 28 projects up there. Here’s my 1 year recap of lessons learned if you’re interested.
Not long later, there was an opportunity to become the Program Manager for CodePlex.com, Microsoft’s open source project hosting site. At the time I joined, there were about 2800 projects. When I left the team in February 2010 to move to NorCal for warmer, sunnier weather, there were around 13,000 projects on CodePlex. I had also managed 28 deployments in 2 years using our agile progress, which followed about 90% of XP (extreme programming). I had to pause for a second during my relocation to think, “wow, I watched 10,000 open source projects get created on a forge hosted by Microsoft during my tenure as the Program Manager.”
Where Agile meets Community
I fundamentally believe that agile is the single, most important thing you can do to significantly improve the user experience of your website. And I’m not talking about Wagile (Agile sliding back to waterfall) to Scrumbut (We do scrum, but…), but “real” agile.
I believe a large part of the success I’ve seen comes from utilizing agile methodologies to respond to community feedback via site enhancements.
Community is my passion. I believe in being transparent (where we are with feature priorities) and in being responsive (we can’t do everything overnight for everyone, but I guarantee each and everyone one of you a timely response). I’ve had tremendous role models, like Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu Community Manager and author of The Art of Community, and Ross Turk, former Community Manager for SourceForge, give me guidance over the years in what makes communities successful. I’m both thrilled and humbled to have this chance to work even more closely with community leaders in open source.
Paging in Ohloh
An idea I’ve always had running in the background was this concept of a “one-stop shop” for all things open source, regardless of development platform, language, or business model. As a Microsoft employee learning to do open source and trying to figure out my place within the OSS community, I gave this talk at OSCON 2008 Towards a Stronger Open Source Ecosystem to discuss my personal views.
I view being the Product and Community Manager of Ohloh the chance of a lifetime. Ohloh is an incredible opportunity for me to put together my agile development experience, my “lowering the barriers to open source” experience, and my 7 years of passion and experience in online communities. Additionally, Black Duck’s KnowledgeBase has been a longtime curiosity of mine. As a developer, I’ve always wondered what’s in there, what sort of data do they have on 300,000 OSS projects, and how to utilize it. And finally, getting to incorporate an incredible site like Koders (Hi @Haacked!), a code search engine of 3 billion(!) lines of source, the potential of Ohloh is HUGE.
As I’m sure every one of you reading this is curious, here’s my short list of //TODOs.
- Start fixing top priority bugs - We’ve been in the forums already, resolving your login issues, license identification issues, and most importantly enlistment issues. We’re also working on a list of top bugs while we work on our data center migration.
- Getting out into the community by listening to your feedback, setting up the best feedback loops, being transparent with our priorities and updates, going to various user groups in the Silicon Valley area.
- And on a personal note, start learning Ruby on Rails and join a local Ruby user group in Silicon Valley. As a born and raised developer, I can’t stand not being able to see at least some of the code in my head when I talk to developers. Who knows, maybe the Ohloh devs will let me check in one day! I have 133 lines in Visual Studio and I got to write some HTML for CodePlex.com, and I didn’t break the build on either one. ;-)
If you feel something is missing from my short list, please let me know.
Here’s where you can currently find and contact me
- The Ohloh blog
- My Ohloh Profile
- Right where ya at! Here on my personal blog is mostly for geeking out over shotokan karate, triathlons, Doctor Who…
Let me know where else I need.
BTW, in case you’re Googling me, wondering where my past blog content has gone, I migrated everything to http://saraford.net. It was important to me that I would be able to continue to respond to readers on my previous blog.
Thanks! And as I said above, I’ve committed myself to Ohloh’s development and service as the most comprehensive, most trusted, free site to the open source community.