A few weeks ago the domain registration for Portable GIS came up for renewal and I finally made the decision to transition it formally into retirement. This can hardly come as a surprise to people as it’s a while since I last did a release. I promised a blog post about why, so here it is! There are, as you might expect, multiple reasons for my decision, but tl;dr it’s basically positive, and says more about the progress of open source geospatial software over the last few years than anything else.
Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons A focus of mine over the last few years has been how new users for software are enabled by good documentation, or conversely how easy it is to inadvertently put people off with the language you use. There are countless articles on this, around the use of terms such as “just”, or “simply”, and I’ve made observations myself on other examples over the last couple of years.
As a recipient of a Google Peer Bonus, I was given the opportunity to submit a guest post to the Google Open Source Blog, published on October 27th 2020. For my own archives, and because I didn’t particularly like some of the edits they made, here’s my original version. I was recently awarded a Google Open Source Peer Bonus, which was all kinds of awesome, but also proof that you can contribute things of value to open source projects, and indeed build a career in it, without being a hard-core coder.
I was recently awarded a Google Open Source Peer Bonus (OSPB), by Cameron Shorter, which was such a lovely surprise! Thank you so much, Cameron, for nominating me. I hadn’t heard of the program until I was awarded it, but it allows Google employees to recognise external (eg non-Google) contributors to open source. The really great thing is that it recgonises all types of contributors, including (copied straight from their blurb):
(with apologies to Gabriel García Márquez) It’s weird posting to a mostly tech blog at the moment. The world is on fire, but life goes on, yet I’ve felt utterly paralysed and unable to write anything here. It feels strange and somehow wrong to write about tech stuff, which lets face it, is not that important in the grand scheme of things, when so much other stuff is going on. Yet here we are, blogging.
Last week I spoke at devrelcon London 2019, which was an interesting and fun experience. Firstly, I’d never heard of “devrel” until a few months ago, and secondly, it’s been a while since I’ve spoken or even attended a conference outside of the cosy little Open Source GIS community. For those short of time, my talk was on “Inspiring and empowering users and techies to become great writers- and why that’s important” and you can find it on GitHub for the live version, and the pdf with speaker notes.
Inspired by https://lornajane.net/posts/2019/the-first-thousand-blog-posts from Lorna Mitchell back in April on completing 1000 blog posts, and then more recently https://revdancatt.com/weeknotes/2019/11/15/001-not-weeknotes by Rev Dan Catt on (not starting) weeknotes, I’m working on a plan for my own weeknote posts. I’m defining a weeknotes post as a curated collection of either “things I’ve learnt” or “interesting things I’ve seen” this week. The Rev Dan Catt gave me the clue how to start this:
tl;dr For the love of all that’s holy, don’t assume people are using your software because they want to… Preamble # I’ve spent some time recently tending to my blog, in the light of feeling like I actually have some interesting things to post about for the first time in ages. I’ve also been indulging in some splendidly geeky bug-fixing and re-visiting a long-term aim to add comments to the site using something other than Disqus (coming soon, hopefully).