Edward Thomson

The Git Contributor Summit

February 5, 2017

The annual Git Merge conference just wrapped up, and it was another exciting year. As always, the speakers were excellent, the training was informative, and the after-party was a blast. But my favorite part was a part of Git Merge that most people don't see: the Git Contributor Summit.

The Git Contributor Summit is held in conjunction with Git Merge, and it allows the people who work on the git project, and related projects like libgit2 and jgit, to get together and talk shop.

The most important part of the Git Contributor Summit, I think, is the face-to-face time that it enables. This is a rare pleasure for most of us; the git contributors tend to chat on the mailing list, the libgit2 contributors talk in GitHub issues or in our Slack room, and the jgit contributors… well, I don't contribute to jgit, but I assume they have all the same problems that the rest of us do where we start to lack the personal touch.

And the personal touch is critical. When I first started working on the libgit2 project, I suggested bringing in some dependency on another project… and the maintainer wasn't enthused by this idea. In fact, he hated it. He hated the idea so much that he threatened to fly to the United States and murder my family if I actually merged that change.

Needless to say: we didn't really get off on the right foot.

But not too long after that, we met at a Contributor Summit and I discovered that he's actually a lovely, friendly person… he just happens to have a bit of an odd sense of humor. And so I knew that the next time he threatened to murder my family that he was just kidding.

Of course, it's not all just social time. Jeff King is part of the team of three maintainers who see to the actual business of the git project and he kicks off the contributor summit with that business. He catches us up on the health of the project as an entity and its budgetary and legal concerns.

But primarily we talk about the technical issues around git: the problems we have, and how we intend to fix them. Often these are discussions about scaling git in various directions, but we also talk about making git easier to use and, perhaps more importantly, easier to contribute to.

The amazing part about this is that we do this working together, despite having different interests and different needs. There are employees from git hosting companies, hackers who work on git in their spare time, and people who maintain git in their organization, whether that's a school, a small website or one of the world's largest news organizations.

And the hosting companies like GitHub, GitLab, Atlassian, and Microsoft all sit down together to talk about the problems they have in common and the ways they've each solved them, and they do it politely and without a hint of competition. There's no bragging about success or laughing at failures, just working together for the benefit of all our users.

It's an honor to be able to sit down with all the Git Contributors and work together on these solutions, and something I look forward to every year. Thanks so much to the organizers of Git Merge, and to the organizers and attendees of the Git Contributor Summit, for making it happen.