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Why I did it...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 28, 2003 07:10 PM
To qualify my comments - I have written one open source application and have contributed several perl modules to CPAN, with more to come. I am an active member of the perl and linux communities, having started a LUG and contributed on many mailing lists about perl, apache and linux.

I wrote my first free software as an exersize in programming - I hacked up a version of a public domain search engine from dr dobbs and played with it, extending, and modifying it until I got a grasp of reverse indexing and how far you can push it with different types of backend. It was downloaded by about 5 people but I didn't care because I learnt a lot, and while at university this matters - its nice to be able to show people real code when you graduate.

I wrote my next piece of free software several years later - it started as a quick hack as part of an internal company project - the company later folded and I continued working on it as a hobby while looking for work.

That was about 2 years ago and since I started I have been in fulltime employment almost continuously since. Now the application has been downloaded about 20,000 times and has absorbed some smaller projects and will absorb another project soon - it has pretty much reached the point where I will have to hand over total control and start using a public CVS with some other authors working directly with the code rather than just sending me patches.

Its a strange feeling - it means the project is obviously a success, other people like it and use it enough that they want to code it.

The reward I have got from this projects have been

  • emails from people all over the world saying hi, your software is cool - I nearly printed and framed the first I got, it was a great moment.
  • emails from people with patches and fixes and text data - these make programming so much easier and more effective as I get more done with less work and headaches.
  • satisfaction - every now and then I can sit back and think - hey this is quite cool
  • Finally - I scratched my itch - when I need to get a quick handle on a load of source code or a database a just point my tool at it and I get a handy document or diagram.


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