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Leaving Behance

February 15, 2018 • ☕️ 6 min read

Hello friends,

After two and half years at Behance/Adobe, I’m moving on! Or in Mike’s words, graduating. 😄

I’ll announce my plans on what I’m doing next in a few weeks, so stay tuned (so this is also an announcement of an announcement unfortunately)!

Some Background

It’s been quite an interesting journey: I never would have thought that I’d be working with JavaScript tooling given my dislike of low level programming (and ironically compilers) back in school. During that time, I purposely avoided many of the core CS classes and chose to major in Industrial Engineering instead, of all things. I opted to do specific CS electives (like for UI, UX, ML) while working on side projects.

Before JSCS, my only experiences with coding were one-off projects: whether it was a game I made with a friend, a project in a school class in which no one was motivated, or a hackathon where there was a lot of passion but little time.

But looking back, it really didn’t take much for me to want to be more involved in something bigger. Did I know what I was getting into? Of course not! I didn’t understand the time investment, technical work, and later emotional labor of working on any open source whether as a contributor or maintainer; and now it’s been more than 2 years of working on Babel for me!

  • 2012: Via firstpr.me, my first pull request on GitHub was 6 years ago! I made some attempts to improve Khan/khan-exercises and used GitHub to add my personal projects. Then I did a detour into visualizations.
  • Early 2014: TwitchPlaysPokemon hooked me in and created a desire to make my own implementation, my first real time visualization, and submit another PR to related project!
  • Late 2014: At work, Jonathan Neal inspired me with his enthusiasm for open source; it was enough for me to look into contributing to Angular.js and through that JSCS.
  • 2014-2016: I spent a lot of time contributing to JSCS. It was then I found out about babel-eslint and through that Babel itself! I gained an appreciation for maintenance when writing my first release notes.
  • 2015: Out of the blue, I got an e-mail from Joel Kemp about working at Behance with him and Mike Sherov. When I joined, I also got collaborator access for JSCS!
  • Aug 2015: After becoming the maintainer of babel-eslint (since no one else stepped up at the time 😄), I started contributing to Babel and eventually became a new collaborator along with a few others (including Logan and Daniel).
  • 2016-now: Alongside a small but awesome team, I’ve been maintaining Babel ever since! It’s all been in my free time until a year ago. I asked to work on Babel full time, and they agreed to ~50% which was amazing.

It took a simple gesture of encouragement from someone I knew in-person to convince me to finally start. A joy from working on a tool we used at work to improve our lives as developers and in the community helped push me forward. Hopefully I can pay that forward even more for the people that want to get involved, but with more effort and a focus on guidance for that journey.

Behance

Behance has truly been an amazing place to work. I really feel like they took a chance on me!

I was initally really hesitant about moving anywhere, especially to somewhere like New York from the suburbs of Georgia. But I took the interview since I was excited at the possibility to work in an environment that encouraged open source, especially in the community.


We’ve been able to work on a lot of open source throughtout my time here, on tasks that benefit both the company and the community. And not just for Babel either. Kai also gets time to maintain ESLint as a core team member and many of our coworkers have also contributed many patches/docs to the various tools we use! Mike made a bunch of pull requests to webpack/npm to improve our (and thus everyone’s) build performance.

He called himself “Jovial Train Patches” at the time since he did all the work on his commute to/from work 😂.

Another thing we’ve been able to do is keep up to date on tooling. And if there are issues, I’ll just have to fix them. And this applies even for “beta” software like Babel 7: we’ve been using it in production the whole time it’s been developed 😄.

We were also encouraged to speak at conferences and be a part of the community!

Last year I had the opportunity to speak at JSConf EU, React Rally, React Boston! I even got to do a few interviews for work like GitHub, RFC, and dev.to.


But despite all of that, we aren’t just a team that just focuses on open source, quite the opposite! We have behance.net and portfolio.adobe.com to work on!

Most importantly, I’ve really enjoyed working on a team that is focused so much on growing and maintaining a community: one that is pursuing creativity. We don’t have to care about advertising or money in the same way other products do. Aligning with what our users want allows us to do our best work and not compromise. It means showcasing what our users can do, helping them push their careers forward and building connections, and educating on best practices. For Babel we aren’t just a tool to compile your JavaScript, but through our website a way to teach developers about JavaScript and the parts of the language and through the language itself a way to help the community participate via the intersection of the proposals/spec itself and implementations in browsers.

For Behance, it’s a community of artists, and for Babel, it’s a community of JavaScript developers. Thus, it’s been an interesting dynamic to view how the things we implement at work apply and can be effective in open source and vice versa. I think corporate culture can move towards a lot of process and bureaucracy and pushback towards less meetings while open source (at least for a volunteer project) is the opposite.

I don’t think I can truly appreciate the opportunities that have been given to me here, so it’s sad to leave. But I’m super excited for what the future holds. Stay tuned for more!

All to say that working here just helped me realize the parts of open source that truly resonate with me: the human side.

Oh yeah and since there will be an open position soon, check out https://www.behance.net/careers if you are interested!

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