Job title: Full-time Open Sourcerer

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

I absolutely loved this phrase pulled from this comment:

I couldn't agree more. Being a full-time 🎩 #OpenSourcerer I was attracted by the idea of an open source editor VSCode which I fell in love with, contributed to its core code, which was amazing. And three weeks down the road I am launching VSCode.pro course.

I never thought I'll be doing all this for a Microsoft product. They have definitely changed a lot. Also, I did a good deal of work with Azure functions — wrote about it.

Peace! ✌️

And I am going to start using it myself. I find it pretty damn cool that I am now writing open source full time. No matter what comes of dev.to, all the code we put out into the world is for everyone. That is pretty magical and thinking like that really helps me get up in the morning and get excited about work.

My open source work is on a consumer-facing application. This is different from "typical" open source work in library development etc. but I'm not sure low-level library/tool development would ever really be for me anyway. I'm very happy I get to do the work I like doing and put all the code out into the universe for others to use and benefit from.

I hope you too can become a full-time open sourcerer or sourceress.

Posted on Jul 18 '18 by:

ben profile

Ben Halpern


A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.


markdown guide

open sourcerer
open sourcerer — it sounds magically :-)

Happy for you, Ben. Open Source, in my opinion, is the best thing in IT-industry, which changes the world every day.


@Dmitriy that's a nice logo, may I have your permission to steal it :P


I'm not the author. Just found it at Google images.

As you wish 😼

This is great. @liana this kind of pixel art is pretty cool, especially when it's showing a little "character" like this. Let's use it for inspiration.


I prefer to be a full-time paid developer, having my open source work as a free hobby. Open source won't pay most people's bills.


Open source won't pay most people's bills.

Yes, this is true in a lot of open source situations, but for us, the code is open, the company has a business model that doesn't conflict with that. So we're doing the same approx work either way but anyone full-time with this is contributing everything they're doing to the fresh air of OSS.

Trying to make hobby open source work into full-time work and creating complicated incentive structure would be ill-advised as you're describing, but there are different ways this winds up going down.


It's certainly interesting to watch things like Tidelift evolve as potential ways of compensating devs for open source projects.


Being a full-time paid developer is great, and working on open-source project as a hobby is also great if you want to do so. But we should reject the idea of open source software as something that is done as a hobby. It is certainly challenging to bring together open source and a salary (at least in our current system), but developers cannot be to bring the same quality level and productivity to unpaid hours of work out of their (frequently little) free time.

Of course, many projects will only make sense as a hobby, but similarly some projects only make sense with some financial backing. And in fact the greatest open source contributors are private companies (Microsoft and Google on top), where many developers work as "full-time open sourcerers" (e.g. writing drivers for the Linux kernel, etc.). Writing good, useful software, open-source or not, is hard and laborious, and we should expect to be rewarded for it if we are to do a decent job.

(I do not mean it as a criticism to your comment, which I understand, but just as an alternative viewpoint)


Open source won't pay most people's bills.

True, and even if they get close to people your bills the job will not be forever. I have seen many shops that hired people to do open source and after 2 years of "showing-off" that they contribute to open source, they let them go.

having my open source work as a free hobby.

I used to do a lot open source as hobby but my free time is very limited. I think companies should encourage people to do open source, within the companies time.


It's very hard to figure out how you're going to pay your bills as a full-time open sourcerer. I won't lie about that. It's that, it's tough.


I owe everything to open-source from the day I refused to pay $45 for a new Windows license and installed Linux Mint on my computer having no clue what was going to happen when I hit that power button once more. That confusing night marks the beginning of my career as a software developer.

Do you work as a private contractor? How are you being remunerated for your work if it's open-source? I've always thought that open-source work was inherently not remunerated by anything other than donations.


I recommended my mom use Open Office because she couldn't afford MS but needed something.

Then I forgot, and I was excited to learn she's still using it years later along with other Apache software. Really neat.

To clarify the post, I'm currently working on dev.to full-time, which is all open source. (Or mostly, we have a few closed endpoints, like 500 lines of code total)


Open source is fantastic, and while I would agree that most people can't make money from what we think of as open source coding, there are a growing number of people being paid full-time salaries to maintain and contribute to open source projects. And like you said Ben, it is about having a revenue model that makes sense with open source.

Speaking of revenue models, I would love to hear more about dev.to's path to revenue, how the project started and what it was like when you decided to do it full-time.


Hahaha! I saw the title and thought "Did someone actually made a job post out of a term I tried to coin on my Twitter bio".

I absolutely loved this phrase pulled from this comment:

Super glad you liked it.

Definitely what you do with Dev.to counts. You are not only doing open source work but helping others do that as well. It's an open web. I hereby, welcome you to the 🎩 #OpenSourcerer clan! 🤣

Peace! ✌️


If I am correct, you pushed to Github every day since Nov 2014, that's awesome.


GitHub is a huge part of who I am today. I have been open sourcing code since 2013 but got more serious about it in 2014. Also, I brought all my repos together on GitHub which were on BitBucket — some of them private.

I also manage my daily to-dos and a couple other workflows on GitHub. Which is why it's hard to miss a day without doing that. So, that's that. 🙌

One more thing I do is I talk about my entire year at the end of it, writing years in reviews. It's important to do that as a full-time open sourcerer or you'd get lost trying to figure out what's new and what's changed.

Read what I've been doing in 🐼 2015, 🦊 2016, and especially in 🦁 2017 →

Maybe something in there would help you do more good with your code and open source.

Peace! ✌️


I'm also glad that the startup I work for can afford to have everything open source :)

Not only allows me to show off my (not so pretty gobbled mess of a) code to everybody, but also to get help, contribute to libs I use (also by using alphas/betas, reporting errors and being able to show the code) and being able to more easily share snippets, patterns, architecture decisions and implementation details.


Hey Ben, other Ben here. Super happy for you doing open source full time! I've been in this world for a bit and still have regular day job, but like you, I love building tools that help make the web run as amazing as it does today.

I hope one day that I can do what you're doing right now too :). Helping other devs become the best they can be in a truly lovely and amazing field. Cheers :D.


My 🎩 off to you all sourceres.

I strive to be one too (and still afford to live that is).


It's amazing, I have it in my LinkedIn Bio


Just bought a Open Sourcerer t-shirt on RedBubble! With that wizard 8-bit logo even.


Open source is like a house party, never dull and depends on people to make it work, I'm yet to have any guests. How do I get some?


I'm so thankful for everyone who share their code, make libraries etc ... I hope I'll be able to contribute someday, when I'll be more confident in my code (specially Javascript) :)