Contributor Blog #7: Interview with Pradumna Saraf
Open Source with Pradumna
We have many diverse contributors in opensource that help upstream communities in unconventional ways, which doesn’t require any coding or development skills. Starting with a non-code contribution can help anyone overcome the sense of failure and not being good enough, and it can also serve as a springboard for our open source adventure. This interview series aims to highlight some non-code open source contributions that anyone can make right now to get started contributing.
For this month’s edition, we talked about maintaining projects, translating kubernetes articles and involving more people into open source ecosystem with Pradumna Saraf.
Thank you for taking some time out and doing this interview with us, Pradumna. Can you introduce yourself and share your journey so far?
Hello, my name is Pradumna Saraf, and I am a devops and Go developer from India. My expertise includes working with DevOps tools such as Kubernetes, Docker, and other CNCF-based projects. I also enjoy building CLI and automation tools/projects. In addition to my technical skills, I am a strong advocate for open source literacy and inclusivity. I believe that open source is for everyone, and I strive to involve more people in the ecosystem by creating content on Twitter and LinkedIn, writing blogs, and producing videos.
Currently, I am in my third year of college and have done an internships at open source companies where I helped uplift their organizations. Going forward this year, I want to choose to work in devrel and focus more on the community side of things . Going forward this year, I want to enter the field of developer relations (devrel) to become more involved in the community side of things.
What communities have you contributed to?
I have contributed to over 100 repositories, but I believe that people often have a limited view of what open source contributions entail. Open source contributions can take many forms, such as advocacy, writing, and blogging. Open source is a vast ecosystem, and my contributions extend beyond just pull requests. While I have contributed to various projects, including those of Google and Microsoft, my focus is currently on the Kubernetes project. DevOps and open source are a great fit, and many DevOps tools are open source, so I find Kubernetes and Docker to be particularly relevant. I am a GitHub member of the Kubernetes and Kubernetes SIGs Org. I contribute both through code and content creation. Overall, I engage in multiple types of contributions to support the open source community.
How did your contribution journey start?
My journey started in 2021 during Hacktoberfest, a month-long open source fest for FOSS organizations. I began contributing to open source by participating in Hacktoberfest, but I truly discovered the benefits of contributing through EddieHub. The community members were willing to help me in my contribution journey, even though I didn’t know much about coding at the time. The inclusivity and international exposure of the community were particularly appealing to me, as I was able to connect with people from all over the world. In open source collaboration, anyone can contribute, collaborate, and connect with others without any barriers or gatekeeping. Everything is transparent, and people come together to discuss issues, features, and ideas.
As I started contributing to repositories, I realized that it was important to know a subject well before writing or talking about it. This prevented me from spreading misinformation to others. I became familiar with tools like Git, GitHub, and began writing blog posts on topics that I was learning on a daily basis, such as how to use GitHub Actions and automate tasks. My LinkedIn and Twitter posts reflect my daily learnings, and I share my insights on various topics. For example, I recently learned about ArgoCD, and I shared my thoughts about it on LinkedIn and Twitter. This is how I contribute to open source by sharing my knowledge with others.
In what ways have you contributed?
I am very interested in reviewing the pull request. I am also a huge supporter of documentation-side contributions because I find documentation to be equally as important as code. The reason for this is that if there is no documentation available to help you understand the code, then the code doesn’t make any sense. Therefore, I am currently focused mainly on the documentation side. Speaking of other repo contributions, I have contributed to the Docker side of things by fixing some configuration files. Improving the configuration file can be crucial for deployment. A large or heavy configuration file may not impact much on a small scale, but it can become a challenge when it comes to larger scale deployments. It can lead to a latency of a few minutes, which can be problematic. A large file can also lead to more carbon emissions, so I’ve contributed to the configuration file. I have also co-contributed to the non-code side by reviewing and updating outdated documentation.
Next, I have been a part of the EddieHub community, where I maintain several projects like LinkFree, which has over 3000+ stars, and we receive 50+ pull requests every day. I review and merge them on a daily basis.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, I regularly create content on several platforms to spread awareness and encourage more people to get fascinated and join the Open Source mission.
You previously mentioned that you have been translating some of the CNCF documentation into Hindi. Is there a significant audience in India that actively seeks documentation in Hindi? Given that many Indians are proficient in English, it would be helpful to understand if there is a significant demand for Hindi documentation?
We do have some traffic for Hindi documents. However, if you search for videos on YouTube, you’ll find that everything is in English. People generally learn Kubernetes and Docker in English. Therefore, if I want to translate the documents, I have to create a learning curve in Hindi as well. Even though there is currently less traffic for Hindi documentation, the communities are very open-minded and inclusive. The Kubernetes project is quite extensive and mature, so translating the documentation is an effective way to help people get started with Kubernetes. By translating the documentation, we can involve a much wider audience. Even if someone is not familiar with the project, they can still learn about it by starting with translating documentation. People can gradually become involved in the Kubernetes ecosystem by reading the English documentation and then translating it into regional or native languages. This way, they also learn about the project. Translating the documentation into Hindi is one of the major aspects of increasing its accessibility. With the right documentation, more people can get involved in the project, making it a win-win for both sides.
What specific product are you translating within the CNCF portfolio?
The focus of translation is primarily on Kubernetes, and there is a reason for that. Given that most projects in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) revolve around Kubernetes, it wouldn’t make sense to translate documentation for other projects if the main Kubernetes product itself is not translated. Currently, two major projects are undergoing translation. The first is the main Kubernetes documentation, and the second is the CNCF glossary. Recently, the Hindi translation branch for Kubernetes was merged into the main branch, which means that the documentation in Hindi is now live. This is a positive development and a significant step forward in our translation efforts.
Can you talk about some of the challenges you might have faced?
Many open source contributors face common challenges, such as inactive projects and unresponsive maintainers. Since open source is volunteer-based, project maintainers may not have the time to address all inquiries and this can lead to projects becoming inactive. Contributors may spend days testing a project and creating a substantial pull request, only to receive no response. To avoid this frustration, it’s advisable to seek out projects that are actively maintained and responsive to contributors.
In addition to this, some communities may not be very welcoming to new or recurring contributors, which can discourage people from contributing again. However, many communities are improving in this regard, which is a positive development.
Another challenge for some people is finding the right projects to contribute to. Fortunately, GitHub provides tools to help newcomers identify groups and communities that are well-suited to their skills and interests.
Share your experience in becoming a contributor.
My current experience is focused on open source development. I learned about GitHub through contributing to and reviewing other people’s pull requests. Similarly, I gained a lot of knowledge about code by studying the code that others wrote. There is often a difference between the code we write and the code that actually runs, especially in production-level applications. One of the best things about open source is that the code is open and available for anyone to read. I have examined open source code and run many examples on my local system, which has helped me to learn a great deal. Working on open source projects has allowed me to connect, collaborate, and exchange ideas with many people.
In the past, I did not have much experience with Node or APIs. However, I met someone in the open source community and collaborated with them on a hackathon project. Through this project, I learned how to build CLI and API tools with Node, and I found that I really enjoy building CLI tools. Recently, I developed a CLI tool for LinkFree, which is an open source alternative to LinkTree. Seeing other people’s projects and dreams have been a great source of motivation for me. Although I was not familiar with building APIs before, I now love creating them and talking about DevOps. I have also studied community projects that are hosted on Docker and Kubernetes, and I try to understand how the configuration files work. By examining these projects and understanding their configuration files, I have gained inspiration and motivation to work on my own projects.
One of the great benefits of participating in the open source ecosystem is that I have had the opportunity to meet and converse with people like you. As I became more active in the open source community, people began to recognize me and follow me on social media. I have been able to bring more than 300 or 400 people into the open source community. I have also created a repository called (“Open Source with Pradumna”)[https://github.com/Pradumnasaraf/open-source-with-pradumna] that I started in April 2022. It has more than 500 stars and receives an average of 1,000 visitors every 10 days. However, creating and maintaining this repository requires a lot of effort, especially in terms of documenting everything properly.
How do I get started with contributing your way?
I always recommend starting with the basics. Join a community because if you do, you’ll have a bunch of people who can help you out when you get stuck, like when typing commands or having trouble with Git or reading the repository code. If you get stuck, it can be very disheartening, so I recommend joining a community that at least talks about open source. I would recommend EddieHub because it’s an inclusive open source community that’s highly focused on open source.
Next is choosing the right platform. You can choose any platform, but I prefer GitHub because it has a big community, a huge contributor base, and you can get fast support. People are familiar with it, so I highly recommend going for GitHub as it’s a code hosting platform and Git is a tool that actually tracks the history of code. These are the two basic building blocks.
The third step is to start with non-code contributions. The reason for starting with non-code contributions is that when you start with open source, it can be very overwhelming. You’re unfamiliar with the code, can’t understand the project, and there’s a lot of room for error. Starting with a non-code contribution makes it easy to get started, like fixing typos in the documentation. You don’t need to worry about your code working or not. Once you’re familiar and have four or five non-code contributions, then you can move on to code contributions. Non-code contributions are very welcoming and help boost morale. Non-code contributions consist of translations, designing, and much more. I would say bigger projects have the most number of broken links, so fixing broken links is a non-code contribution and a good way to get involved. Then you can move towards “good first issues”, “first-time contributors”, and “first-timers”. These are a few tags that are used in the industry.
Recommend one unconventional contributor whom you admire and tell us more about them.
I greatly admire Eddie Jaoude the most. He is a digital nomad and the founder of EddieHub, which is the most inclusive open source community I have ever come across. Eddie is extremely passionate about open source and has a mindset of kindness that welcomes everyone into the open source ecosystem. He has played a significant role in helping me get to where I am today.
Pradumna, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for generously sharing your thoughts and experiences on contributing to open source communities. Your insights were invaluable, and I am confident that they will benefit our readers. Thank you for taking the time to engage in such a productive conversation.
I will leave you all with my favorite takeaway from this interview..
Seeing other people’s projects and dreams have been a great source of motivation for me.
- Open Source With Pradumna | https://github.com/Pradumnasaraf/open-source-with-pradumna
- Website | https://pradumnasaraf.dev/
- Blog | https://blog.pradumnasaraf.dev/
- GitHub | https://github.com/pradumnasaraf
- EddieHub | https://github.com/EddieHubCommunity
- LinkFree | https://github.com/EddieHubCommunity/LinkFree
- Hacktoberfest | https://hacktoberfest.com/
- Kubernetes SIGs | https://github.com/kubernetes-sigs
Pradumna is a DevOps Engineer and Node.js Developer. He is passionate about Open Source and mentored hundreds of folks to break into the ecosystem. He is currently an Ambassador and Maintainer at EddieHub Org, Postman Student Leader, Major League Hacking Mentor, and Kubernetes SIGs and Kubernetes Org member. He also creates content on Twitter and Linkedin and educates people about Open Source and DevOps tools. He can be reached out on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email
This blog post is part of the Jan edition of UnconventionalContributors, our monthly interview series about different ways to contribute to opensource. Don’t forget to check out the next one featuring Priya Sharma, Technical Consultant at HotWax Systems.
Have a story to share? We’d be delighted to get in touch and discuss sharing your story. We are also open to suggestions for new content that will foster the community’s growth.
We’ll see you all in the next one. Till then, Happy contributing!👋🏻