Growing Ruby Together
Recently I joined Ruby Together to help grow the membership community. Having been a Ruby developer for nearly 15 years, this represents a truly exciting opportunity to give back to the community and be a part of a meaningful organization. But the first question I had to figure out was, why grow? Ruby Together has nearly 200 members, which is a great start. Our current membership base allows us to make critical security and bug fixes to RubyGems and Bundler, as well as fund mentorship programs and grants for open source Ruby software.
The obvious answer is more members means more resources to improve Ruby projects. But the less obvious answers are also exciting and represent a transformative opportunity for the future of Ruby and our community. So I hope you will join me as I share why Ruby Together is so important, what we have accomplished, and what the future holds.
Why is Ruby Together important?
Bundler, RubyGems, and the Ruby Toolbox, the primary open source projects supported by Ruby Together, are used tens of billions of times a year. Bundler and RubyGems make up not just the most important pieces of Ruby infrastructure, but also serve as critical tools for millions of sites across the internet. Without the support of our members, we would not be able to hire developers to make improvements to these tools and reliably keep them secure. By ensuring these services remain stable, Ruby Together helps foster a diverse ecosystem of open source libraries, plugins, and repositories able to coexist among multiple Ruby, gem, and code versions.
The Ruby language is also deeply intertwined with open source software. The language is open source, its most popular libraries are open source, and by and large, Ruby developers contribute greatly to open source projects. Traditionally, open source has been maintained by volunteers. While a net positive, this can pose some disadvantages, including lack of documentation, technical support, sustainability, and timely security fixes. Ruby Together was created to solve these problems by financially supporting open source maintainers, ensuring the long term success, security, and stability of the Ruby ecosystem.
As the Ruby community has grown and matured, Ruby Together has played an essential role in ensuring the long term stability of core Ruby projects by paying developers, thereby avoiding having to rely solely on volunteers. Bundler and RubyGems.org continue to serve billions of additional requests each year, making volunteer support unsustainable. Since our inception, Ruby Together has paid for over 5,000 hours of open source developer work, as well as advocated for the professional advancement of our members, and encouraged the next generation of Ruby developers by creating a welcoming and inclusive community through grant and mentorship opportunities.
What else have we accomplished?
In addition to funding thousands of hours of improvements to Bundler, RubyGems, RubyGems.org, Gemstash and more, it is important to highlight some of the other outreach and impactful work Ruby Together does for the community.
Ruby Together helped resurrect the Ruby Toolbox, a comprehensive resource for developers to find maintained and popular open source Ruby libraries. The Ruby Toolbox has been one of my favorite resources over the years and recently turned 10 years old! Our funding has helped the site's creator, Christoph Olszowka, to maintain, open source, and redesign the site, as well as keep the data and projects up to date. Great work Christoph!
Ruby Together also recently launched RubyMe, a mentorship program to help early-career developers improve their skills and confidence by contributing to Ruby projects, paying both mentor and mentee to pair program on open source software for 8 hours per month. To see a real world example of how RubyMe has benefited a new developer, check out our article on career switching into code. And if you are interested in participating in our next cohort as an apprentice or mentor, please check out RubyMe.org and sign up for our newsletter to be notified when applications re-open.
On a quarterly basis, Ruby Together evaluates proposals for funding specific Ruby open source or community projects through our grant program. If you are looking for funding for your open source project, apply here! Recently we profiled the progress of one our funded projects, Bridge Troll. Bridge Troll makes it easier to discover workshops around the world helping people learn to code. Learn more about how Ruby Together funding has helped benefit the Bridge Troll project.
Last but not least, we announced an partnership with Tidelift, enabling their enterprise subscribers to financially contribute to Ruby Together's open source maintenance. With this initiative, Tidelift will support and broaden Ruby Together’s reach to professional teams that primarily use other languages, but also have a lot of Ruby packages in their technology stack.
What's next for Ruby Together as we grow?
Lots of great things are coming down the pipeline as we grow:
- Merging Bundler and RubyGems into a single, unified project, simplifying updates and installation, eliminating version mismatches, and making the overall Ruby experience more seamless for new and existing Ruby developers.
- Hiring more developers to provide a steady cadence of ongoing maintenance and improvements for Bundler, RubyGems, the Ruby Toolbox, and other projects that benefit the Ruby community.
- Increased opportunities for RubyMe applicants and more awards through our open source grant program.
- Expanding RubyBench.org into a public benchmark for every commit of Bundler, Rails, and Ruby itself. RubyBench is a long running benchmarking tool to ensure new code commits do not negatively impact performance.
- Creating a public Ruby ecosystem analytics dashboard with vastly expanded statistics for Ruby, Bundler, and each gem.
- A new member portal with news, job postings, career developments tools, and special events, along with resources to help new developers get started on their journey.
- Advocacy programs to encourage and nurture new programmers to pursue learning the Ruby programming language.
But, we can't do any of this without your help.
How Can I Get Involved?
First and foremost, become a member! Join organizations such as Stripe, Bleacher Report, DigitalOcean, Triplebyte and more and show your support for the Ruby community. We have flexible membership options for both companies and individuals. As a nonprofit trade association, your membership dues are generally tax deductible. Or if you are feeling generous, you could also make a one time gift.
We are always looking for new Ruby open source project grant proposals to fund, as well as mentors and apprentices for our RubyMe mentorship program. Apply today!
Check out the swag at the Ruby Together Shop and show your support at community events. All proceeds benefit Ruby Together's work.
Finally, don't forget to stay up to date with all the latest news. Follow us on Twitter at @rubytogether and sign up for our newsletter. Tweet out this post and email me your address and I'll make sure to send you some awesome swag!
If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about Ruby Together and our activities, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Matthew Solt, Community Growth for Ruby Together