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Open source, people, and happiness

When looked from the consumer standpoint, open source often reads as software publicly available that I can check out, use, and improve. However, there’s more than that. In a world where everyone seems to be obsessed with building the next TikTok and making the world a better place, open source takes you, a software crafter, to what this pandemic has proved is the key ingredient for happiness, human connections.

I started building Tuist motivated by some challenges that I wanted to overcome, and over time, we turned it into a group of aligned people collaborating towards the same goal; extremely talented software crafters from different locations building upon a foundation that I helped build. How did it happen?

First, Tuist is the reflection of the education that I received from my family. They taught me that happiness means spending time with people. That unlike capitalism tries to prove us, happiness is not about climbing ladders, getting a higher salary, or working for your dream company. For that reason, I made people a cornerstone in Tuist.

Since the moment people show up in Tuist, we spend time connecting with them and empathizing with the motivations that led them to adopt the tool. They feel heard by other humans beings, and that’s a great feeling in an industry that is trending towards dehumanizing technology with solutions like bots. Moreover, we invite them to contribute to the codebase. We give them the necessary pointers and even pair with them on nailing the first contribution. They go from I don’t know how to take the first steps in this project to nailing their first contribution and getting inspired to ship more.

We trust the people that join and let them prove us wrong. This is something that I learned at Shopify. Assume good intentions from the people around you, and work on having a charged trust battery with them. That has a tremendous effect on people. They feel inspired to contribute further, build their own tools, and do the same with other people joining the community. It cascades rapidly, and because doing great things for people can get very far, it has the side effect of bringing more diversity of ideas to the table from people that otherwise wouldn’t have contributed.

When I tell people that I do that without getting money in return they think I’m crazy. They think I’m wasting my time that I could otherwise spend becoming richer. What they don’t realize is how happy I am helping other developers overcome challenges that I had to go through, and seeing community members spreading goodness across other developers. It’s not about money, it’s about people.

When I was young, I used to work over the weekends in my family’s cafe. What I remember from those days, and I can still see it in my parents, is how happy they are earning an average salary but having the opportunity to interact with people all the time. Open source is my modern cafe where “cafe con leches” became code.

I have to say though that I’m privileged of having a paid job that allows me to spend spare time on Tuist. Money is a component that we can’t remove because we need it for living, but it can be a secondary one.