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Disrupting Open Source

It’s funny (well, maybe not so much funny as surprising) how one single decision, how one email, how a few keypresses can have such a dramatic effect on your life and career. Since 2012, I’ve spent a fair amount of time focusing on one notable JavaScript library. It’s been a rollercoaster ride filled with unusual and interesting challenges. From bringing a dead library back to life, to fighting an avalanche of questions, bugs, and features requests in the middle of the night as the library became more popular than expected, to selling the rights and targeting enterprise users with commercial licensing, to bringing the library back to the free open source software community once again. I’ve been terrified, overwhelmed, inspired, and thankful on multiple occasions throughout this journey. This is the story of that journey, how it changed my life, how it affected those around me and my peers at Widen , and how I hope it can continue to have a positive net effect on the open source community and individual developers.

Over the course of this journey, I’ve changed my perspective on marketing, software development, and open source many times. I’ve made some great decisions that changed my career forever. I’ve made some big mistakes that I remember to this day. I’ve made some lasting connections, and even some enemies. I’m pretty sure I’ve pissed off a fair number of people.

But most of all, I’m pleased to have been able to help develop something useful, something that a lot of developers rely on to accentuate their projects, something that my employer depends on heavily. It’s a bit sad that so many other libraries sit undiscovered and unloved. Their authors have put in countless hours of development and planning. And what do they have to show for these efforts? An issue tracker filled with their own issues. 1 star on the GitHub repository (also their own). It’s frustrating to develop something that is apparently only important to you. I have a number of other projects that fit this description. It’s so very satisfying to develop and be singularly responsible for something that many users depend upon. That itself is an experience that I wish every software developer could have. It broadens your perspective and has a positive effect on all of your future endeavors as a developer.

Maybe the right thing to say is that I wouldn’t change anything. But in reality, there are some things I’ve done, some decisions I’ve made that I wish I could take back. Still, everything I’ve done with Fine Uploader has made me the developer I am today and given me a sense of purpose. I’m grateful for all of these experiences.

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