Hello 11ty!

I was invited to become a member of the 11ty project one month ago. This post is closing 2023 on a high note so I just want to share with you how it is for me to be part of an Open Source project.

Released: 23. Dec 2023
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As you might know, 2023 wasn't easy for me. Nevertheless I wanted to share this positive thing with you.

I use 11ty in many of my public and personal projects. I started to do so nearly three years ago for this blog, started creating a plugin for it, voiced my opinion on discussions and tried to give my knowledge back to the community. Alongside this I also used 11ty for many of my personal projects.

About half a year into my experiences with 11ty, I started contributing code back into the project and as of right now I'm among the top five code contributors to the project.

The 11ty project is mainly maintained by Zach Leatherman and the project org only consists of five individuals. The community is significantly bigger with closing in to 100 code contributors, but it's still tiny.

It's a first for me

This is the first time I'm officially part of an open source project. To be clear, I contributed to open source before and I was part of some more private or professional projects, but this is the first time I'm joining an organization with the intention of staying with the project for a longer time.

11ty's community

The 11ty project is small, the community is big and welcoming. This is part of what I love about this project.

For a long time I only saw the 11ty GitHub Repo and the people interacting there and basically ignored the Discord Server. After becoming part of the 11ty GitHub Org, I took another look at the server and used it as a chance to introduce myself. The reactions in this channel speak fairly clearly about what this server is all about. There are a bunch of awesome people sharing knowledge and helping each other and even though I'm personally not that active on there, I appreciate the work others put into it like Aankhen, Ben 🦖, Cassey and especially Uncenter. This is a major pillar of this welcoming community and gives others like Zach the chance to focus on other things like getting V3 ready.

But also the GitHub repos aren't standing still. There are many just as active individuals on there and in my opinion it's often easier to help on there, since it encourages sharing example code and reproduction steps with your issue or discussion. Aside from that things like the 11ty-community repo show just how much impact this project has in the wild.

What is my role in this?

I'm now part of the "11ty Support Team". This means, that I'm able to set labels on issues in the main repo, but I can also approve submissions to the community repo and the 11ty-website. In the end I mostly see myself now in the same role as before. I try to do my best with contributions back to the community and just see my additional "powers" as a chance to make life easier for all project members.

Why did I take on this role?

It's not about the money, money, money
We don't need your money, money, money
We just wanna make the world dance
Forget about the price tag
-- Jessie J

While money is important, this has never been a reason for me to contribute to the 11ty (or any other open source) project. Quite the opposite, I started contributing to the 11ty opencollective initiative back when I was still a student and just kept it going.

For me the biggest thing is just giving back to society here. I know that I am in a very privileged position with a skillset that's not available to everyone so like I learned from people like Jake Archibald, Surma or even Zach Leatherman, I want others to be able to learn from me (that's why I'm doing this blog or creating my personal projects under a free license).

What will I do in the future?

If you're trying to submit something you've build with 11ty to the community repo, include either the generator meta tag or a public repo to ensure that I can merge it right away.

As I hinted to before, I don't really want to change much. I will continue to check in on the 11ty issues and provide code contributions when I have the time. During the last month I even started to do this more regularly and also started checking in on the community repo more regularly.

You can do it too!

You don't have to commit to a project like I did here, but contributing to open source is neither hard nor do you need any kind of professional credentials to contribute. It's sometimes scary to contribute to bigger projects (e.g. I opened an issue on the official JS spec and that didn't feel great at first), but in every great project there are people who will guide you along and help you in achieving what you want to do.

Contributing is more than writing code

Of course creating PRs is often the first thing that comes to mind when talking about contributing to open source, but there are many just as important things to do like creating and responding to issues, providing code reviews,coming up with ideas for new features or usecases or just welcoming and guiding new members of the community.

Good contributions take some effort

Until it becomes second nature, it's often hard to create a contribution at all and especially in bigger projects you can expect for them to take some time to get accepted and merged. This is mainly because most likely the maintainers are (like myself) doing this after hours in their free time. But you can do things to speed it along!

Take a look at how the project does stuff. Maybe there's even some contributing guideline. If e.g. you have a but, provide clear steps on what you did to achieve it. Be precise in your descriptions (e.g. not "I used the current alpha version", but "I used alpha-3") and if you have an issue template, fill it to the best of your knowledge. This helps others to understand and reproduce your issues easier and if it's easier to work on your stuff, it probably will get handled faster.

So thanks to 11ty

There's not much left to say except for thanks for having my Zach and thanks for being such an awesome community to everyone. I'm really looking forward to seeing this project grow and evolve in the future, because I strongly believe that the trend towards SSGs is one of the best things for web development in the last years and I think 11ty is right now the best SSG.