Over the last couple months I’ve open-sourced two pieces of software. The first was Camel, the blogging engine that runs this site. The second was Accidental Bot, a robot that sits in ATP’s chat room and takes title suggestions. Both can be found on Github.
Overall, the experience open-sourcing these projects has been awesome. Especially in the case of Accidental Bot, which struggled to stay afloat for the first few episodes of its existence, pull requests were frequent and almost always helpful. In fact, were it not for the help of Jeremy Banks, Brad Choate, Kyle Cronin, Balázs Galambosi, and E.Z. Hart, Accidental Bot would still be dying in the first 10 mintues of recording. The pull requests these gentlemen submitted were instrumental in moving Accidental Bot from an adorable yet embarrassing disaster to something that’s actually functional.
However, there’s a lot of work left to be done. I’m not just exclusively talking about enhancements and bug fixes. I’m also talking about the pull requests that are still pending. At the time of this writing, there are seven pull requests awaiting my review. Some of these changes are fairly minor, and I should have already handled them. Some others, however, are quite a bit more involved, and take a lot of thought.
I didn’t expect to get the response I did to open-sourcing either Camel or Accidental Bot. The pull requests that have been issued have been awesome, and I feel like I’ve accepted and merged the majority of them. That said, I also didn’t expect there to be an implied time commitment keeping the queue empty and moving pull requests through.
Despite not finding (making?) the time to review these pull requests all that often, I feel a surprising amount of guilt for not dealing with them quickly. This could lead to a long meta-discussion about not only whether or not I should feel guilt, and also how this compares and contrasts with things like Twitter mentions or e-mails. For now, though, I’ll simply say that this surprised me, and I’m still trying to find the right balance.
All told, I’m very glad that I open sourced both projects, and would do so again in the future. Now, however, I’ll have my eyes open and hopefully be more prepared for the commitment it requires.