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Thursday, February 18 • 5:30pm - 6:10pm
The pet projects of Dr Frank Einstein...

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Many developers have pet projects. It can be that little tool that you use daily. Or it can be something a bit larger, something that you secretly (or not so secretly) hope will become big at some point in a vague future. In this session, I will not talk about your pet projects, however. I will talk about mine. This means that I will mostly talk about *failed* pet projects, some seemingly insane efforts that never went anywhere, but that I keep hammering on relentlessly. You think you have problems with your pet projects? Wait until you see mine ;-) For sanity, I will of course contrast that with more successful open-source pet projects.

Now, why would failures be interesting? Survivor bias. By looking only at successful projects, we fail to learn about all the things that can cause a project to fail, stall, choke or wither. On the other hand, failure is still the best teacher. The more you fail, the more you have learned. I also want developers, notably younger ones, to own the phrase "When you fail, redefine success". I want to highlight, through my own experience, how failure is always relative. I want to explain why I am proud of my failures as much as of my successes. I want to encourage every one of you to dream big and fail big. I want you to dream that you are Einstein, even if in the end, it turns out that like me you are closer to Frank than Albert.

I will illustrate this talk with the four following pet projects of mine: XL, Tao3D, make-it-quick and the flight recorder library. And I will complement that analysis of failures by contrasting with three pet projects I consider successes: git publish, bichon and qboot. By exploring these various projects, how they grew a community (or not), their code size, their purpose, how easy it is to maintain and develop them. and more, I hope to give you some interesting data points for your own future pet project.

My conclusion here: It is OK to fall in love with your monster, as long as you do it intentionally.

avatar for Christophe de Dinechin

Christophe de Dinechin

SPICE developer at Red Hat, founder of the Tao3D project, Red Hat
Christophe works on SPICE and 3D virtualization at Red Hat. He's passionate about 3D, virtualization and programming languages. His GitHub page is http://github.com/c3d.

Thursday February 18, 2021 5:30pm - 6:10pm CET
Session Room 3
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