The Importance of Contributing to the Community
Mapt: How did you become a developer?
Piergiogio: I started to learn programming on C64 when I was 5 years old and the first time I simply copied my first BASIC script from the Commodore manual.
Since I was always fascinated by video games, my grandmother gave me a brand new Commodore Amiga with a new programming language and a lot of new things to learn such as user interface and a new way for creating music. Then thanks to some of my older friends when I was young, we created a group of video gamers with passion for programming. We started to share some experiments and opinions about technologies, programming and frameworks.
At that time the unique way to enter in contact with other developers were magazine newsletters and BBS. Both of these precious source of informations and we were extremely hungry… and foolish 😉 Working in this small, local community made clear to me that my next step after high school would have to be in Computer Engineering.
The tons of magazines I bought began to be replaced by forum subscriptions in different Open Source communities and after some years I found myself studying sample material created no longer by professors or scholars, but by other community members. Open Source communities gave me a lot in terms of knowledge, education and collaboration that’s why I decided to start my contribution, I wanted to give back what I received for years and I’m continuing to receive. This exchanging contract between each contributor and the communities can be considered a huge love act for making our world a better place.
M: Tell us an interesting fact about your book.
P: I have written two books with Packt. The first one, Alfresco 3 Web Services, written with Ugo Cei, one of my former colleagues, was an amazing journey. The writing experience dramatically improved my knowledge on the internals of the platform and increased my problem solving skills to help developers across the entire Alfresco Community.
When I wrote my second book about GateIn together with Ken Finnigan (Red Hat) and Luca Stancapiano (another colleague), this time the work was different — a different platform, a different book and different people involved — this is the magic of contributing together on an unique goal, every time it is a new adventure!
For me, writing a book offers a special contribution to a community that needs more information about a particular topic or may simply need a different point of view in sharing tutorials and describing new scenarios.
M: What is the best feedback you have received about your book?
P: A lot of developers that I have met in forums, through mailing lists or during events have said that without my book they would not have been successful in their customer projects. I love hearing that I have helped or contributed back a to the community with plugins and/or related books. When I help people that want to contribute and I see their contribution, I feel something perfect in this cycle.
M: What has been the biggest game-changer within the industry? What do you think has changed for better or for worse?
P: Finally the ‘Open Source Way’ now can be considered the basics of any innovated technology and innovation strategy. This sharing approach is increasingly delivering quality and transparency across many market sectors and contributing to a community is becoming a natural act.
This said, there are a lot of companies that use Open Source without understanding exactly the added value or the people behind these projects. I am convinced that an awareness-raising path will lead to better adoption and better interaction between communities for making good active citizens. Education is the key to improving better behavior of developers, companies and contributors. It is very hard for a company to contribute on innovation without be an active part of Open Source communities.
M: What do you think is the best way to learn new skills?
P: For companies looking to keep their teams innovating and independent developers, there is fortunately lots of training courses — ideos, manuals or live training remotely with a certified trainer — that can be taken remotely and which are inexpensive. The amount of materials is huge.
M: What advice would you give to a young developer today?
P: I would like to bring your attention on the fact that a lot of Open Source projects need people not only for writing code but also for writing documentation, executing tests or simply for giving feedback or hotfixes required in the project. Don’t be shy: a community will certainly thank you for any type of contribution that you can add. Throw yourself in the melee 😉
M: What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
P: I’m continuing my contribution to the Apache ManifoldCF for a new functionality dedicated to migrate content from a content repository to any CMIS-compliant repository.
I’m also involved in the new Technical Advisory Group at Microsoft for the Cloud SDK and Open Source interoperability, and for this role I’m starting to adopt Azure Storage and Cloud for new connectors and plug-in in the Apache and Alfresco ecosystems.
Finally I’m continuing to AIIM for reviewing new white papers and toolkit about EIM / ECM and Capture.
My free time is totally focused on Open Source technologies and methodologies and even if my career path is aligned with the Enterprise Information Management area, I would like to be considered simply as a contributor. I’m contributing to the following communities: Mentor, PMC Member and Committer at Apache Software Foundation; Member of Technical Advisory Group at Microsoft; Professional Member and Reviewer at AIIM; Community Star, Wiki Gardener and Global Forum Moderator at Alfresco; Top Community Contributor at Crafter; Project Leader / Committer at JBoss Community.
You can learn more about my work here: