What we all want: reflections on ng-conf

(Update: Igor responded, added to the bottom of the post.)

The future of JavaScript has arrived. There was a lot of discussion about the future of AngularJS at the ng-conf sessions these last two days. But, the future of web development we have all been waiting for has already arrived. AngularJS is the now.

I can’t help but worry I have been left behind. I found AngularJS at JSConf in Portland almost three years ago. I had a few pull requests accepted around documentation and got one of the original t-shirts. And now I see the huge community of people using AngularJS and know I will never be at the center of creating this new world. My ego wants to be there and with regret I know that ship has sailed. What I want is to have pull requests accepted. To build my brand. To solidify that I am smart, a participant in the revolution.

Igor Minar, however, is at the center of all this, a superhuman coder among superhumans. Igor has always seemed very human, despite all the notoriety of AngularJS. Of all the team members, he was the only one who I knew had small children, especially relevant to me personally. It was nice to see him talk about his child in his discussion. For me, with a one year old, it is inspiring to see what he is building because I look at my own life and see the disruption a child can have on your ability to create things.

It is amazing to see that what I want might be exactly opposite of what a person I care about wants. For Igor, a pull request means more work. Falling further behind on the dashboard. His talk at ng-conf was beautiful because it let us all see the emotional impact of working on an explosive project like AngularJS. It showed the humanity behind a superhuman open source project. Like the best stories of the superheroes in the comic books I read as a youth, his description of his experiences was riveting because of his deep humanity and not just his superpowers.

So despite my desire to get a pull request in, I now have a new perspective on what that means. Even if my pull request works, I need to consider that the AngularJS team are craftsmen and artists. Even if I make an addition to their high performance engine, it is not enough to make sure it runs faster, to make sure the gas mileage is better, to make sure it uses less oil. Even if the tests say yes, there is still an aesthetic decision that cannot be automated.

If I came away with one thing it would be that I wish for the AngularJS team to have some silence this weekend. I want to acknowledge Misko, Igor, Vojta and everyone else for building something that allows me to love building again. And, those words of appreciation can wait until Monday.

Igor’s response:

+Chris Dawson thank you for the post.

I’d like to make it clear that I do want you to send us PRs.

We just need to figure out a better way to give you direction if you need some and a better system for handling PRs and issues in general.

It’s clear to me that more delegation is a big part of this new system, but it must be do in a way that is not going to break Angular, make it bloated or diverge from the original vision in undesirable ways.

The working group will help with some of this, but I think that we need way more people than a small working group to handle the load that I expect to only increase.

Everyone is invited to be part of the solution.

The http://angularjs.org/i-want-to-help link I shared is a way to get initial feedback on which areas people are willing to help out.

We don’t have the all the details of the solution yet, but my talk was meant to start the discussion so that all of us can solve this problem together. A problem that threatens the future of Angular if left unsolved. 

Thanks again!

(PS: feel free to post my reply on your blog under the original post if you find it suitable. I didn’t find a way to reply there directly and I’d prefer my answer not to be lost here.)