ApacheCon Europe 2019 — Thoughts and Insights by Airflow Committers

This blog post was originally published at https://www.polidea.com/blog/

Is it possible to create an organization that delivers tens of projects used by millions, nearly no one is paid for doing their job, and still, it has been fruitfully carrying on for more than 20 years? Apache Software Foundation proves it is possible. For the last two decades, ASF has been crafting a model called the Apache Way — a way of organizing and leading tech open source projects. Due to this approach, which is strongly based on the “community over code” motto, we can enjoy such awesome projects like Apache Spark, Flink, Beam, or Airflow (and many more).

The ApacheCon Europe 2019 conference took place in Berlin and turned out to be an amazing opportunity to meet the community behind all of these projects. Moreover, it was a rare chance to hang out with people our own Apache contributors and committers email with every day discussing the project’s future. Polidea’s Jarek Potiuk gave a talk onBreeze — a tool to easily and quickly develop Apache Airflow. Together with our software engineer Tomek Urbaszek, they met a lot of inspiring people and fellow committers during the event, including Aizhamal Nurmamat kyzy, Fokko Driesprong, and Felix Uellendall.

Since ApacheCon has a unique atmosphere, in today’s blog post, they all come together once again to share their thoughts on the conference. Enjoy!

Jarek Potiuk at the ApacheCon conference in Berlin. Author: Jan Michalko

Tomek Urbaszek — Apache Airflow contributor, Junior Software Engineer at Polidea

The most valuable thing I took away from the event was understanding the Apache Way — because ASF’s “community over code” motto is not only a cool slogan. The motto is a source of the Foundation’s success and a way to keep people together no matter what.

Moreover, getting familiar with the approach helps to improve your engagement in the community you work with. Another interesting thing is the variety of ways people can contribute to open source. The majority think that OSS is all about coding, but during the ApacheCon conference, it was often emphasized that our communities need help with improving documentation, UX/UI, and management.

The main reason for attending the ApacheCon conference is people. Even the organizers do not hesitate to admit that ApacheCon events are made mostly for community contributors, so they can meet face to face. It’s a family that will accept anyone who has the courage to make the world a better place. Meeting those who contribute to Apache for more than 10 years, restores faith that it’s worth to create awesome things for others!

Jarek Potiuk — Committer and PMC member of Apache Airflow, Principal Software Engineer at Polidea

For the last year, after I started actively contributing to Apache Airflow, with every month passing, I continued being surprised and amazed by how an organization like this can work. The decision-making process and work structure are very different from the traditional ways of learning in regular companies.

The most valuable thing I learned at ApacheCon was that I (slowly) started to understand the underpinning of the organization. It turned out that transparency, honesty, community volunteering, and generally speaking “goodness” is enough to keep the company running for the last 20 years and “own” the assets worth many billions of dollars.

The energy and passion of people who do most of it as their side job is the true engine that drives the organization. And grasping those mechanisms is the most valuable lesson I take from ApacheCon. I attended and spoke at many conferences and have to say ApacheCon is different in many ways. If you spend most of your time in a corporate environment, attending ApacheCon might be like a Breeze of fresh air (pun intended;)).

Attendees at the ApacheCon 2019 Europe. Source.

Felix Uellendall — Committer of Apache Airflow, Junior Data Engineer at Publicis Pixelpark GmbH

Thanks to ApacheCon I learned how important it is to meet the people you work with on your Apache Project. I felt the passion everyone had for contributing to the Apache Software Foundation. Everyone is so nice and really willing to learn more about the ASF to advance both the community and the project. I loved getting to know other contributors and learning how to build a strong community with a common goal — to make the world a better place by providing first-class-level software.

If you can attend, I strongly recommend it. I’ve been to many developers’ conferences in the past and haven’t found anything remotely similar. ApacheCon brings together people like no other event.

Fokko Driesprong — Committer and PMC member of Apache Airflow, Code Connoisseur at GoDataDriven

I really loved to see all the faces behind the Github handles and get to meet all the people. I haven’t experienced such positive energy at a conference before. There were a lot of people who love to talk about their experiences with open source software! It was also amazing to see the founders of the ASF, which started 20 years ago (older than Google!).

The best part about the ApacheCon in Berlin? Meeting people face to face and chatting about the projects. Seeing how individuals use open source software, and the positive impact of the movement was impressive. It was great to exchange ideas, calibrate how we perceive open source software, and how we can make sure that it lives on. Also, it was great to talk face to face instead of writing long emails back and forth on the dev-lists.

A big plus is that there weren’t any obviously sponsored talks, and the event is very accessible. There were a lot of technical people and last, but not least, the city of Berlin is a beautiful place to have a beer in the evening, discussing the conference and exchanging experiences. I definitely recommend it!

Morning at the ApacheCon. Source.

Aizhamal Nurmamat kyzy — Apache Airflow Committer, DI&E in open source

I was very excited to see the Design track in this edition of ApacheCon. The non-code aspects of open source projects traditionally get less love and care, but I am happy to see that we are starting to recognize all kinds of contributions and not just code. It brings awareness to the work that many of us do besides coding, and creates a safe space for other non-code contributors to join our open source projects.

Apache projects are all about its people, and for me to meet my fellow airflowers was the highlight of the ApacheCon. Meeting other committers and PMC members in a less formal space than a dev list was really nice. Probably this kind of event is what makes projects grow stronger — in a few hours we can discuss many things and come up with many ideas for the project’s development, which we then bring back to the mailing list, of course! I’d definitely recommend attending ApacheCon! If you are an Apache contributor, it is a great space to meet other members of your project, learn about the Apache Way, the foundation’s history, and attend great talks and panels!

If you’d like to check out some of the Apache Con talks, head over to their YouTube channel.

independent Open-Source Contributor and Advisor