Apache Community Development

Thursday May 25, 2017

My First Experience Of ApacheCon by Stephen Downie

Let me start with a small introduction of myself. My name is Stephen Downie and I have been working in the world of IT for only 2 months. Tom Barber, an ASF member and committer, recently got in touch and offered me the opportunity to retrain. I have previously worked for the last 20 years in retail and if I’m being honest hated 90% of my time at work, so I thought why not. I knew Tom was very knowledgeable and I had always been very envious of his Facebook posts, it seemed like every week he was working on a new project in different countries all over the world from India to Europe to the US. As part of the offer he said he would like to take me to Miami to a conference called ApacheCon….How could I say no? I had never heard of ApacheCon prior to this and in my naivety assumed it was something to do with helicopters (like I said I have zero experience in IT). The weeks passed and Tom was sending more and more documentation through, the thoughts that I was massively out of my depth started growing.

Anyway, 13th May arrived and our flight was leaving the UK at 10:20am so we set off to the airport. Excited, nervous, anxious were just a few of the emotions I was experiencing at this stage. Check in went smoothly and we were off. We landed mid afternoon Miami time and made our way to the apartment. To make the most of our time away Tom had booked tickets for us to see a baseball game (I guess it’s a must when in the States), we went to the beach and explored Miami. My new life/career in IT had started and it was amazing, but work had yet to start….What would it be like?

Tuesday 16th arrived and alarms were set early. We drove to the Intercontinental Hotel, the venue for ApacheCon 2017. The building was huge and I felt very out of place walking through the large automatic doors and stepping on to the escalators. As we approached the first floor I was suddenly at work. Tom was doing a talk on OODT .so had to join a different line for registration so I was, for the first time on my own. I joined the back of the line and slowly edged forwards. I was listening to the conversation, it all sounded very foreign to me but what did strike me was that people of all nationalities all seemed to be old friends. Closer to the front on the line I edged. I registered and received my badge and a free t-shirt (very nice it was too). I wandered around looking for Tom who was already chatting to a group of people so I took it upon myself to have a chat to some people at the sponsor stands and get myself some swag. It all seemed very interesting but mostly went over my head. The thing that was striking me was everyone seemed so friendly and welcoming (very different from the career I had come from where no one seemed to have time for anyone other than themselves).

The previous evening we had gone through the schedule planner and made an itinerary for me of talks that would be interesting/useful to attend. I would start my day in the Versailles Ballroom to watch the opening Keynotes. Again it struck me that so many people knew each other and were catching up on what had been a year since they last met. The speakers were great and had really got me in the mood for what was to come. I have to mention Sandra Matz’s talk on Digital Psychometrics and the Future Effect on Technology. She was both captivating and funny and also the British accent helped me feel at home. The Apply Magic Sauce app was very interesting, it reckons I’m 31….who doesn’t want a few years knocked off their age? It was then a coffee break. I had only been there a few hours and already there was free nibbles and drinks. I grabbed a meat patty and a bottle of Orange and then went to the Alhambra Room to check that Tom was set up for his talk,
OODT 2.0: The Future of Distributed Data Management.The room wasn’t packed but a good 15-20 people turned up and listened to Tom talk about the use of OODT with his work at NASA. I listened and tried to make sense of it but once again it was slightly over my head. After Tom had finished we split up and I was attending a talk on my own (scared!!) I made my way to Biscayne Room to watch Peyman Mohajerian give a talk on Continuous Applications with Apache Spark 2.0. I got my notebook out and tried to make notes of the bits I thought were useful but also so I could quiz Tom about them later. I noticed a lot of people taking photos of the slides so I got involved and did the same (was I getting the hang of it?) The talk was interesting from what I could take from it but once again I’m not sure I really understood what was going on (there seems to be an occurring theme here).

It was lunch, I needed to eat, my brain felt overloaded with so much information so we headed out and found a restaurant to eat at. In case you were wondering I ate calamari for the first time, it was lovely (a week of firsts continuing). When we returned to the venue, next up for me was Leveraging Docker for Hadoop Build Automation and Big Data Stack Provisioning with Evan Ye. in the Balmoral Room. For the first time during this talk I could relate to some of what he was talking about as Tom has introduced me to these bits of software with Spicule, the company I’m now working for. It was quite high level and I soon got lost but it felt good. After the talk I went to find Tom as I wanted to ask him some questions about what I had just heard. I found him in the corridor. He asked how my first day was going, I didn’t really know other than my mind felt like it was melting but I had something I could actually ask him and he had the answers!! I was then supposed to be going back to the Alhambra room for a talk on comparison of Spark SQL with Hive.

Later Tom suggested I went with him to the the Brickell Room which was part of ApacheCon (everything I had attended was the Big Data side of it so far). Bob Paulin was giving a talk on user groups (something I had attended in my short time in IT) The way he spoke and engaged the attendees was amazing and something I could relate too as I enjoy public speaking and engaging an audience. After the talk he came and sat at the table with myself and Tom. I thanked him for delivering a talk that I could relate to. Tom explained that I had zero experience of Apache and IT in general. I told him what talks I had attended so far and he laughed and said “So he’s thrown you into the deep end then”. I don’t know if he realised but that is when my experience changed as I then realised that I was never likely to have understood much of what I had heard (Tom later explained he didn’t expect me to but that the main reason I was here was to get a better understanding of the environment as a whole). The day finished with the Podling Shark Tank which was a fun way to bring the day to an end. I thought then it was home time but before that we had beer to drink and food to eat and people to chat to. The thing I took from my first day was there was a varying level of expertise and knowledge but that the one thing everyone had in common was their love for Apache software. When I got back to the apartment I was shattered, opened a beer and fell asleep on the sofa!

Day 2 went pretty much the same way, a lot of techie talks and then coffee then more techie talks and then food but it was when I attended the talk in Brickell Room with Sharan Foga on Committed to The Apache Way , that things started to make a lot of sense to me. As the week had gone on I was feeling like a bit of an intruder in the midst of all these IT geniuses with their talk about coding and programming but as Sharan started I realised that the ASF was so much more than this and that one of their most important sayings was it's about “Community over Code”. This helped everything make sense and finally I could see that I could have a place within the Apache Foundation. Her talk was so enlightening to me, that evening Tom and I spent hours talking about the ASF and not just technology, about what it takes to be a committer, how to gain the trust and other ways to be involved with the foundation (perhaps I had found my place?).

Day 3 seemed very sedate compared to the first two days as a lot of people had left early for flights. We attended a few interesting talks throughout the day and spent time recapping what my experience had been like. My head was fried and I’m sure i didn’t make a great deal of sense which is why I wanted to write this blog to try and get my thoughts and experiences out there in the hope that it may inspire other people to get involved too. In the last talk we attended with Tim Allison on Evaluating Text Extraction: Apache Tika’s New Tika-Eval Module Tom thought it would be a good idea to volunteer me to write a UI for the software which is something I will certainly be keen to try (maybe I would be a coder after all).

I’d like to say a massive thanks to all that were involved in make ApacheCon 2017 an amazing event and I hope that I will be able to attend the next one. Thanks!

Friday May 05, 2017

Community Development News - April 2017

Welcome to our monthly blog update about what is happening in Apache Community Development (ComDev)! This month we have news about ApacheCon North America; give you some reasons why attending BarCampApache is great; encourage projects to ask for help protecting their trademarks; share some mini podcasts from FeatherCast; and we're planning a Community Development Tools Hackathon.

ApacheCon NA 2017

It is less than 2 weeks to ApacheCon NA in Miami and tickets are still available. We have a full schedule and a range of mini conferences that cover a variety of topics. Many of the mini conferences (TomCatCon, FlexJS Summit, ApacheIoT, Cloudstack Collaboration Conference, Apache Big Data) also include access to the main ApacheCon event so you can mix and match what you attend.

Please check ApacheCon.com for more details about the conference and register.


If you haven't heard about BarCamp, the please read on. BarCampApache an informal 'unconference' that happens around ApacheCon. It is a completely free event that anyone can attend. So whether you are already involved in Apache or simply wanting to find out more about what we do and how we do it, then please feel free to come along and ask your questions at the BarCamp.

There is no fixed agenda and in fact the schedule is created on the day by the participants. This means that once the schedule is set, you can choose to stay for the topics you are interested in and leave for those you are not.

So what happens during a BarCamp? Each BarCamp is different as it also depends on the people who attend. Please see below for a list of some previous BarCamp activities:
  • We talk and discuss any topic that people want to raise
  • We share experience and ideas
  • If anyone is looking for advice or has a problem they need to solve then we help them with brainstorming options
  • You can present or share something that you are working on and get feedback
  • We experience the culture, sights and sounds of our e location by going for a walk around the city

If you'd like to know more about the BarCamp the please listen to our Feathercast interview with Jean-Frederic Clere who has been it for the quite a while

BarCamp will run on Monday 15th May from 9.30am to 3pm approx. If you'd like to come along then please help us with the organisation by registering to your attendance via
  1. ApacheCon Wiki - for planning what we'll do
  2. Sched - to let folks know you're attending!

Please remember that you don't need to stay for whole day and you are free to drop in and out at any time.

Interested in sponsoring BarCampApache?It's cheaper than you think! Generally BarCamp runs alongside ApacheCon but this time it is being run separately the Monday beforehand. It is a free event so would appreciate any help to cover the costs. Community Sponsorship for BarCamp starts at $5000 so if you are interested in being a Community sponsor for BarCampApache then please let us know.


FeatherCast is the voice of the ASF and our main podcast / news channel. Generally we try to record presentations from events such as ApacheCon and make them available online for reference and also for those who did not get the chance to attend. We also share news and interviews about what is happening in our projects.

As part of the lead up to ApacheCon we have recorded some short interviews with some of the ApacheCon and Big Data speakers. A few are highlighted below:
Please feel free to check our webpage for updates and follow us on Twitter.

ComDev Inventory & Tools Hackathon

We are putting together a list of all the tools and applications that the Community Development team has at its disposal. This will include a list of what websites (internal or external), social media accounts, or other applications that we use, manage or are responsible for. Having this will give us greater visibility and more flexibility to share and co-ordinate activities.

Following on from this ComDev tools theme, contributor Benjamin Young has suggested a ComDev tools hackathon for ApacheCon in Miami. The session will be used not only to get familiar with the tools and applications, but also work on cleanup, coding and anything that can help make our tools use more effective. A few of our community members will be attending ApacheCon and it will be a good environment to get together, share information and review what we have.

If you are interested in participating in the ComDev Tools Hackathon at ApacheCon then please contact us for more details.

Improving Your Project's Brand

Have you ever wanted to improve your project's brand and attract more contributors? Concerned that BigCo Vendor is misusing your project's trademarks and good reputation? Apache Brand Management is here to help.

We have a complete Trademark And Branding Site Map with links to all relevant ASF policies and best practices, like social media account guidelines and how to address abuses of your project's trademarks. Contact Brand Management if we can help your project.

OpenExpo in Madrid

We have been offered a booth at a new conference in Madrid. The conference is called Openexpo and will run on 1st June. You can find out more details about the conference and the schedule on their website. The conference has content in both Spanish and English, though we are expecting that attendees will be mainly Spanish speakers.

Thanks very much to our two Spanish speaking volunteers Ignasi Barrera and Jan Iversen who have generously offered to help our on the Apache booth.We will be once again talking to people about Apache and our projects.If you are attending the conference the please feel free to come along to visit our booth to say Hello.

Contacting Community Development

Remember that we are always happy to get your feedback and comments so please feel free to contact us, follow our events and participate in our discussions on our mailing list. If you would like to be kept up to date with all the latest news about what is happening in Community Development then please subscribe to our mailing list by sending an email to dev-subscribe AT community DOT apache DOT org.



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