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Project Lombok core maintainer Reinier Zwitserloot shares his open source journey


My name is Reinier Zwitserloot. I live in Delft. I am the lead maintainer of Project Lombok, which is a Java plugin for your IDE, for your git, for your compiler, which removes a lot of boilerplate from your code.

I started a long time ago just in my programming career, and I had a bug in some library I was using, and it just ate up a lot of my time. And then there was another library I was using, and that one was open source. So it was actually fairly easy to figure it out, just by tracing the source. I didn't edit anything. This was before the age of GitHub. I couldn't send a pull request. But it was still really convenient. That's actually a lot of value created there. I just remained with this thought that it was a better way to do it.

Then a while later [my friend] Roel and I stumbled on this idea for Project Lombok, which is sort of a creative use of an API. Project Lombok is something that seems to be enforceable. I had the thought that's really useful. So let's make something and we open sourced it. We got such positive responses, and so many pull requests fairly quickly, that we just never looked back. And we're still maintaining it to this day.

For my day job, I run my own company where I'm also a software developer. So that is a lot of development. I could burn out on one [task] and then there's not a lot of energy to work on the other. So that is a problem. How we do it right now is that we say that all Monday evenings are dedicated to Project Lombok, which does mean that sort of brings a bit of calm, but it also means if there are like many bug reports, and we don't get through them all on Monday, then it's just gonna have to wait until next Monday.

I think 99% of global users just want us to fix bugs and make sure it works well. And it's really hard to motivate somebody to pay on a completely volunteer basis—10 bucks a month or whatever—to keep doing it in bulk. The only solution where I think you can scale up to large corporations with a bigger outlay for using open source. And there are many ways to do that inside of this community. Tidelift is one of them but that drives me to think that this might work a lot better, especially to cater to the use case of, I don't want to build like completely new awesome features, I want a stable life.

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