Why I do open source.
On That Note is where I put together long-form strings of words that cover my take on engineering, commerce and the Shopify ecosystem.
I've been asked this question a lot of times — `Why Open Source?`
I think it's crazy that in a world where agencies and developers seem to be obsessed with creating tool envy and keeping things hush-hush, I'd rather be out in the open, sharing what I'm working on with the entire ecosystem and handing out the tools so everyone can build on, and with it. When I decided to open source my first repo, I had no idea this is gonna end up in so many places. I know of 50 apps on the Shopify App Store that are using my boilerplates as a starter template instead of the official CLI 3.0 tool. That’s crazy.
One of the biggest roadblocks to why I never thought I’d do open source is when I put my code out there for the world to see I’m opening myself up to criticism. This has gotten rough at times, but the beauty of open source is that it's a two-way street. You get feedback on your code and you also get to give feedback to others (for most parts).
It also made me care less, to a certain extent, about what other people think of my code. If it works, it ain’t stupid. If a 100 engineers think it’s great and all you wanna do is cry about how my repos don’t come out of the box with a library already set up, I will hop on a call and that 1 on 1 interaction is a slap to the face that I even took the time out to talk to them and remind them that open source is free and that their `constructive criticism` should translate into a PR telling everyone what’s wrong or a fork with that library, instead of crying about it.
Another reason I love open source is that it allows me to make vertical impact instead of a horizontal impact, to go deep instead of going wide. This is why I hate it when I’m referred to as an `influencer` instead of a regular kid who’s building things, heck I’ll even accept `content creator` at this point. I hop on calls with some great engineers at all experience levels and the impact of just hopping on a call and helping them debug is something I can see on their faces and thank you notes in my messages. Sure I can go out there, run ads, and do things to widen my reach, but I’d rather impact someone deeply to a point where they see me as the only go-to person for the specialization, instead of a so-so impact on 100s of engineers.
This is one of the reasons none of my content forces you to like / subscribe / star / fork / interact with my content. It’s just “Hey I made this, here’s the link, let me know how you feel about it!”. This is why I don’t share my MRR because my MRR will go up and down with the markets and how my work is performing, but what you can’t take away from me is the fact that I hopped on a call with you for 45 minutes, helping you debug that one typo and/or walking you through the entire repo with notes on how I do things.
It’s this door to make a deep and meaningful impact on a small group of people instead of a superficial impact on a large group. This is also one of the reasons why I don’t accept PRs on my repos because I’m continually talking to engineers from all experience levels and I want things to be as baseline and approachable as possible - so a beginner solo developer who just learnt their stack can start building just like an experienced engineer would.
This approach allows me to focus more deeply on the needs of my engineers (yes, everyone who uses my repo is my engineer) and to build something that's truly tailored to engineers in the Shopify app and related niches. Having engineers tell me they have been struggling with the official templates for months and my repos just *clicked*, makes me feel like the code I write has a tangible impact on at least one engineer’s life. Sure I ship some or the other feature or product almost every day but when you do it enough times it becomes just a number on the dashboard and for me, it takes away from the fact that we went from an idea to something that can be used by a merchant miles away to make their life easier.
I hate putting this in words but I feel like this idea of making a deep impact creates a sort of cult following. When you build something truly valuable, people start to take notice. They start to question your choices and ask you why you did things a certain way and that's a good thing; I want to be challenged on the way I look at things because my code isn’t just my code, it’s how I think, which is the entire foundation of our existence as humans and to have that questioned lets me be a better human.
PS: If you’re hiring from 🇨🇦 or globally, I’d love to join you as an engineer to build things on the Shopify ecosystem. You can get in touch with me on Twitter or LinkedIn
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