liv hugger home

how i got into rust

There’s currently a campaign around the #RustReach program where it’s people post their, uh, Rust “origin stories”, so to say. Mine is not nearly as long as some other peoples’, but I thought I’d try my hand at this regardless.

early beginnings

If I recall correctly, I first stumbled upon Rust as early as in 2015, when it was still way before 1.0. I don’t remember a whole lot, but even back then I was very interested in the promise of a type-safe and memory-efficient language that’s still fun to write. However, I quickly lost interest, probably because I was mainly doing JavaScript at the time, a radically different language (and because I was still in school).

Fast forward to autumn of last year. I’m a member of the Node.js Community Committee and as such, very engaged in, well, community affairs. I got interested in Rust again because of Ashley Williams, at the time an individual membership representative to the Node.js Foundation board (yes, it’s exactly as complicated as it sounds), who introduced me to the Rust Community team, which was and still is pretty much everything I’d have liked the Node.js Community Committee to be. I kept my eyes on it, but I was pretty much all caught up in work back then.

At some point this year, I joined the #rust-community IRC channel because I was interested in seeing what the Node.js project could learn from the Rust project. I’d already grown a bit distant to my work in the Node.js project at the time for various reasons, but I was interested regardless. I started attending Rust meetups in Berlin, found out I worked in an office with a Community team member, and grew closer to the project as a whole.

rustbridge

Having a history with organizing NodeSchool events in various cities, I took interest in the RustBridge project from the start. Initially, I helped out with some basic work that needed to be done, but because the Ashley, who then was the RustBridge team lead, was also the Community team lead and a Core team member, had a lot on her plate, I took over some administrative stuff, too.

I think the point that convinced me to dedicate more time to Rust as a project was being invited to the Rust all-hands in Berlin earlier this year. This was obviously convenient since, well, I live in Berlin, but it was also in a space where I’d organized events before. Although I was only able to stay for half of the week, I still had a blast and met a lot of amazing people, many of whom convinced me to do more community work for Rust.

And that’s pretty much where I stand today, a member of the Community team as RustBridge team lead and a Rust meetup organizer here in Berlin! The decision to leave the Node project was a hard one, but I think this is an investment into my personal wellbeing and future, of course.

cool, but what do you *do*

I think it’s no secret at this point that I’ve grown distant from programming as an activity, for burnout and other, more personal reasons. Instead, I’ve taken quite a liking to doing organizing, administrative work, and paperwork, essentially all of the stuff programmers don’t want to do. I think this complements the more technical side of the project quite nicely, and I certainly enjoy it.

My story is also not at all common, I’ve never contributed to rust-lang/rust, I don’t write Rust code at work (heck, I don’t write any code at work), I’m not even in any more technical IRC channels. I started contributing to Rust in a horizontal fashion, I had a concrete reason to contribute. That’s not to say that contributing without one is bad, in fact, I’d say it’s all the more important because for many people, contributing to Rust gives them a reason. That’s why I’m very excited about the Rust Reach program, because it’ll hopefully enable many people to contribute with whatever they wish.

As for responsibilities and tasks as a Community team member and subteam lead:

  • Community team meetings. These happen every two weeks over IRC, in which subteam leads report on their statuses.
  • Team meetings. The RustBridge team meeting happens every other week over appear.in and is used for general coordination with team members as well as teachers.
  • Issue triage. This should be apparent, a team member/lead should review current issues and tasks when they have the time.
  • Helping interested people. For people who are interested in becoming a RustBridge teacher or perhaps want to organize an event themselves, we give guidance and help. We also collaborate with the Events team on this, which has more helpful resources on hosting a Rust-related event.

The Rust project, I think, is unique because it’s organically grown as a project with a rather clearly defined, but still loose hierarchy. This allows initiatives, projects, teams, et cetera to crop up naturally and then dissolve when the task is done. It’s very exciting to be a part of such a large project that is still so young and so rapidly growing, and I hope I can continue to do so in the future.