Being among the first in a new community

It takes a special kind of people who enjoy being in the first in a new community. It’s a time when there’s a lot of empty canvas, wide landscapes to uncover, lots of dragons still on a map, I guess you already see what I mean. It takes some pioneer spirit to feel comfortable when the rules are not all figured out yet and stuff is still a bit harder than it should be.

The last occurrence where I saw this live was the Snappy Playpen. A project where all the early snap contributors hang out, figure out problems, document best-practices and have fun together.

We use Github and Gitter/IRC to coordinate things, we have been going for a bit more than two weeks now and I’m quite happy with where we’ve got. We had about 60 people in the Gitter channel, had more than 30 snaps contributed and about the same number or more being in the works.


But it’s not just the number of snaps. It’s also the level of helping each other out and figuring out bigger problems together. Here’s just a (very) few things as an example:

  • David Planella wrote a common launcher for GTK apps and we could move snaps like leafpad, galculator and ristretto off of their own custom launchers today. It’s available as a wiki part, so it’s quite easy to consume today.
  • Simon Quigley and Didier Roche figured out better contribution guidelines and moved the existing snaps to use them instead.
  • With new interfaces landing in snapd, it was nice to see how they were picked up in existing snaps and formerly existing issues resolved. David CallĂ© for example fixed the vlc and scummvm snaps this way.
  • Sometimes it takes perseverance to your snap landed. It took Andy Keech quite a while to get imagemagick (both stable and from git) to build and work properly, but thanks to Andy’s hard work and collaboration with the Snapcraft developers they’re included now.
  • The docs are good, but they don’t cover all use-cases yet and we’re finding new ways to use the tools every day.

As I said earlier: it takes some pioneer spirit to be happy in such circumstances and all the folks above (and many others) have been working together as a team together in the last days. For me, as somebody who’s supporting the project, this was very nice to see. Particularly seeing people from all over the open source spectrum (users of cloud tools, GTK and Qt apps, python scripts, upstream developers, Java tools and many more).

Tomorrow we are going to have our kickoff event for week 3 of Snappy Playpen. As I said in the mail, one area of focus is going to be server apps and electron based apps, but feel free to bring whatever you enjoy working on.

I’d like to thank each and everyone of you who is participating in this initiative (not just the people who committed something). The atmosphere is great, we’re solving problems together and we’re excited to bring a more complete, easier to digest and better to use snap experience to new users.