Can I make a living out of my open source projects in 5 months?
I’m in the open source world for the last 12 years…it all started in 2002 as a member of the Tomcat team, then in 2005 I have created the Grizzly framework, lead the team that open sourced GlassFish, released the Grizzly Comet Framework, created the Atmosphere Framework in 2007 and its related projects. I also created the AsyncHttpClient library in 2009 and recently designed and implemented the Swagger Socket Protocol in 2012. I think I can say I have a little experience with open source development and management :-)
All of that work was done under several companies umbrella: Sun Microsystems, Ning, Sonatype and more recently Reverb. In all cases, I was allowed to work on those frameworks because they were used internally. For example, I’ve spent the last 18 months working at Reverb, significantly improving the Atmosphere Framework and even deploying it on Wall Street Journal, one of the biggest/live deployment I’ve ever made so far supporting WebSockets and Internet Explorer 6/7/8/9 at the same time. Phew!!!
During that 18 months at Reverb, I was finally able to release the 1.0 version of Atmosphere, which was a major accomplishment for me after working on the framework for the last 4 years. Then, the popularity of the framework sky rocked and everything jumped: download are almost 200% up every months, Github “watcher” doubled, mailing list is now close to 500 users, Twitter account reached 1100 followers and emails traffic are stable months after months. More important, in December I’ve started getting requests for professionnal services with Atmosphere, contract support, etc.
So, with the current Atmosphere success, I’ve had a hard decision to take: work at Reverb and let the Atmosphere’s community grow and “leave by itself”, or resign from Reverb and try to build a company to support Atmosphere. Last January was difficult for me as I was constantly under fire by having to work on Atmosphere and at the same time help scaling the Reverb’s platform. Not a nice situation!
So, I’ve decided to tale a leave on absent from Reverb and try to build my own company around the Atmosphere Framework, called Async-IO.org. The website is live and the traffic is already passing 500 unique hit per day, so this is positive…but, It’s a major challenge for the following reasons:
- I cannot stay unemployed for several months. Hence I allocate myself 5 months to succeed with my crazy decision. I know it’s a very small amount of time, but that’s all I can allocate.
- I’m based in Canada (in Québec), not in California or in a city like London or Berlin where I can have funds from Venture Capitals Companies. Montréal is unfortunately stuck in the early 200o where IBM and Microsoft rules the city, so no luck on that side as well!
- I want to try to do everything all by myself, from designing the website (thanks Github) and learn from existing open source projects that succeeded. I’m event sketching the official logo this week!
- I don’t want to spend large amount of money on infrastructure. Instead, I would like to reward people that have been working with me in Atmosphere as soon as I can. But I need a solid foundation before I can do that.
- I don’t have a large corporation financing my work. Since Atmosphere compete with framework like Socket.IO/Node.js, Vert.x and Play 2 (they are all powered by a big company), it’s a real challenge!
- Atmosphere work with all browsers, mobile browsers and Java WebServers, and from version released sometimes 5 years ago. The testing matrix here is really complex and right now I strongly need to rely on the community to help, and in return I’ve adopted a short release cycle to make every body happy. That way too much time consuming so I need to improve that situation.
- Continue being active with the community like I have been for the last 4 years!
Now, after reading this you can call me crazy and I would fully understand! Interested to help? Pretty simple:
- Follow Async-IO.org, Atmosphere or myself on Twitter
- Follow/Watch/Start the Atmosphere Framework on Github. The project is on page 2 for most popular framework, and being on the first would help.
- If you are using Atmosphere, consider buying an annual subscription or get in house training with Async-IO.org.
So, for the next 5 months I will use this blog to share my experience with this colossal adventure! Stay tuned!