open source eddie with bald man with beard sitting in front of laptop

We're excited to introduce you to Eddie Jaoude, a member of the RTC Discord.

You may have seen Eddie before. He's a huge advocate for open source, and he was interviewed on RTC's YouTube channel. And today, Eddie will be talking about all things open source.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m Eddie Jaoude and I’m a full stack developer with a passion for open source and getting everyone involved. For me, it is not just about code but about community, communication and collaboration.

In the last few years I have fully embraced remote working for my clients, which has allowed me to work from anywhere in the world. Currently, I am writing to you from Portugal where I am spending the Summer.

bald bearded man holding laptop on shoulder

2. What do you do on a day to day basis?

The beauty of being a freelancer is that I can make my day my own, and I am not bound to getting into an office and being there from 9am to 5pm, which I am thankful for. I do have a set of core activities that I will do every day:

  • Address Github notifications
  • Contribute to open source projects
  • Respond to notifications on socials
  • Client work

For years I did fall down the rabbit hole of waking up and opening my laptop straight away and not coming up for air. The next thing I knew it was bedtime. Being a freelancer does not mean you do five minutes of work every day - quite the opposite. You might be working at 9am on a Monday but also at 11pm on a Saturday. You have to actively make sure that you do take time to look after yourself (even if you have to schedule it!) through exercise, eating well and spending time with family and friends.

Of course there are days in which this is difficult because of a project deadline for example. The important thing is to strive towards a balance which is something I work on at every day.

stack of balancing rocks

Eddie understands the importance of work/life balance

3. Can you tell us what open source is and how you got into it?

Open Source is having the source code of the project publicly available, so others can make use of it, but also make contributions and improvements to the project.

It took me a few years into my career to find out about open source. I was using open source tools at work and was so impressed that that there were so many valuable free available tools out there that anyone could use. I was also beginning to network more and the term "open source" kept coming up in every event that I went to. This sparked my interest in finding out more about this community which works publicly and transparently to resolve software problems.

I was particularly attracted to the idea that through open source I would not just "take" but would also have an opportunity to give back.

4. How is open source different from other types of development?

With open source being transparent as well as permitting contributions and improvements by all, it encourages collaboration between the core team working on the project but also with the wider community. This helps improve the quality of the project whilst allowing the team members to up skill faster.

5. Do you think open source projects are ideal for beginners? Why or why not?

There is still a misconception that you only have something to teach and make a valuable contribution when you have reached a senior level in your career. I disagree with this and feel passionately that open source projects are ideal for beginners.

As with anything, starting to get involved is not always easy and can feel a little daunting especially given that as your open source project is "out there in the world" you may feel exposed. My advice would be to start small; small contributions, comments etc. Github in my view is a fantastic way to start your journey into open source.

What I would say is that just because you are a beginner you should not be restricting yourself to just asking questions and seeking help. Naturally at the outset it will feel that all you are doing is getting help and assistance from others. However members in the open source community will be quick to catch on if you only reach out to get a "quick fix" to your problem, drop off and only resume contact when you need help again.

Be part of the conversation - give your ideas and suggestions, no matter how small they are. Even if you are only one month into your journey you can already help those which are on day one of their journey. Additionally supporting others is a great way to reinforce and accelerate your learnings.

github green contribution squares

Eddie's GitHub contributions this year

6. Where’s a good place to start learning open source? & 7. We know you're dying to talk about GitHub. Why don't you tell us what it is? (I have answered these questions together)

GitHub is a social coding platform. Think of it like Instagram - but rather than photos you are showcasing your source files. As with Instagram where you can like, comment, share and follow - you can do this on GitHub. Additionally it has the added functionality of being able to suggest improvements and changes as well as carrying these out.

cartoon octopus cat

GitHub's Octocat mascot

GitHub is a great way to start your open source journey. I would suggest that firstly you find a good repository:

  • Go to Issue section which lists your issues, clear the search box;
  • Add the search parameter for the label “good first issue” and consider including a language;
  • This will list all issues which will match this criteria and from there have a look at the repositories and see which ones seem interesting to you.
  • Check the closed Pull Requests that have not been merged: it is completely acceptable for a project maintainer not to accept pull requests - but were these rejected in a friendly and constructive manner?
  • When making a contribution, focus on adding value (don’t just suggest a change for the sake of it) and being respectful towards the project maintainer’s time.
  • Bonus tip: check the insights tab on the repository to see if the project is inclusive for things like code of conduct.

In addition, join a community which will support your learnings and journey.

8. Looking back on your software career, what were some challenges you faced?

The job landscape in software development was very different fifteen years ago. Employers were primarily interested in seeing that you had done a Computer Science degree at University, and as I had read Engineering this meant that I would not even be considered for an interview. Being self taught was not something that was valued by most employers.

Teaching myself to code was also a challenge as a result of the lack of resources. GitHub, Git, Discord and also communities such as Free Code Camp did not exist. Fortunately I had a friend in Hong Kong who encouraged me to learn coding and with whom I had my first experience of pair programming, for which I am very grateful for. Nonetheless this meant that in those early days I felt quite isolated in my coding journey as it took some time for me to develop a network of coding collaborators.

9. If you had a redo, what would you do differently?

I would certainly get into open source right at the outset of my tech journey given the benefits that this has. Learning in public via content creation is also something I would like to have done sooner as well. Finally, joining communities at the start of my career.

10. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Even though I have been in open source for over ten years and whilst GitHub has made things much easier to navigate, starting out can still be daunting - particularly given the number of projects out there.

This led me to build a community called EddieHub, which focuses on open source for those with varying tech abilities and at different stages of their tech journey. Our community is aimed at encouraging and promoting communication, best practices and technical expertise in an inclusive and welcoming environment. Primarily members need to help each other, given that this is such a great way to learn how to give feedback but also how to receive feedback.

You can find us on our Discord Server and our projects are on GitHub of course, as well as YouTube. As our motto is "collaboration first code second”. We want to continue to develop and grow as a community to include an Ambassadors programme, but also a focus on wellbeing within the tech industry.

cartoon rabbit wearing glassesCheck out EddieHub!