At RailsConf 2010, Yehuda Katz of EngineYard debunks the idea that only the in-crowd of Stanford and MIT-educated computer scientists can contribute to popular open source projects like Ruby on Rails (Ruby is an object-oriented programming language designed to be more powerful than Perl, more object-oriented than Python). Many of the most prolific contributors to Rails, Merb, JRuby and other widely-used Ruby projects don't live in the United States or even have Computer Science degrees.
Hard work and courage are the most important requirements for great work, not education or even experience. Yehuda's motto is to make easy things trivial, hard things easy, and impossible things possible. There are a lot of small, simple tasks like documentation and cleaning up warnings that are good work for people getting started. Then, once you're comfortable, you can either join one of the many understaffed projects or scratch your own itch and start a new project. Impossible is a state of mind, and hard work is the best medicine. That's all you need to do to get into the "in crowd."
Yehuda Katz is currently employed by EngineYard, and works full time as a Core Team Member on the Rails project. He is the co-author of jQuery in Action and the upcoming Rails 3 in Action, and is a contributor to Ruby in Practice.
Katz spends most of his time hacking on Rails, but also on other Ruby community projects, like Rubinius and Datamapper. And when the solution doesn’t yet exist, he’ll try his hand at creating one. As such, he’s also created projects like Thor and DO.rb.
This free podcast is from our Rails Conference series.