3 min read

Work, open-source and family - maintaining a work/life balance

Balancing work, life and open-source
Work, open-source and family - maintaining a work/life balance

I first got into open-source development way back in 2010, when Codeplex was a thing, and .NET web development had hit a sweet spot with ASP.NET MVC and the introduction of the Razor template parsing engine. Razor for me was a gateway technology to the world of open-source, which I had wanted to contribute to for a while.

With a like-minded developer State-side, Ben (https://buildstarted.com/), we brought Razor templating to open-source through our RazorEngine project. After shipping a couple of initial versions, we then migrated over to Github and launched RazorEngine v3.

Back at that point, I had lots of free time on my hands. I wasn't in a relationship, I lived on my own, or with a roommate and I worked a town away. I got a LOT of coding done back in 2011 and I would say my drive to do open-source work was at it's highest.

I started seeing Kat the day after RazorEngine v3 launched, and in the early days of our relationship I think I balanced the life/open-source equation quite well. At this point my career had also been taking off as I was moving up the ladder at my then-current role to a Lead developer position. I had a good focus on what I wanted to do in all aspects of my life.

Thing is though, as you spend more time in a relationship, your focus does change. This certainly is not a negative thing but out of the three things my life - work, love and open-source, one of them had to take a hit. Can't afford to not work, and I didn't want to not experience this thing called love (excuse the double negative) - that leaves one option - open-source had to take a hit.

I was lucky at the time that a few great contributors to RazorEngine had picked up where I had left off. One of those contributors, Matthias Dittrich (https://github.com/matthid) has essentially been the core maintainer of RazorEngine since 2014, and has now been maintaining the project longer than I have. For all intents and purposes, the project is his project, and I will be ever thankful to him for preserving RazorEngine, and I largely credit its ~5.5 million downloads to him.

Open-source continued to dwell in the back of my mind, if only in fleeting moments of idea generation or through reading articles of emerging trends and technologies. It was never truly lost, it just wasn't as important as what was going on around me.

Fast-forward to 2019, and I am about to embark on the next stage in my career, Kat and I are married, we have two beautiful daughters and another baby on the way. I haven't contributed a lot of open-source in the last few years, except on some of the newer ASP.NET Core bits, yet my drive to open-source still feels as strong as it did  7 years ago. Life hasn't taken the passion away, more just the time. But that is time with my family that I cherish.

I want to contribute back to to .NET which has entered a renaissance, and there is a LOT of interest in .NET at the moment - for good reason; It's an exciting technology to be working with, there are many career opportunities, and it has a bright future.

Open-source generally isn't going to be the big thing that makes you rich. It's often a thankless task. However, there is a great satisfaction is solving a problem, and knowing your solution is out in the world saving someone's project.

The balance will come. Quoting one of my favourite movies - Life, uh, finds a way.