December 14, 2021

Contribution days at Factorial

We have an important announcement to make! By the start of 2022 we introduce the contribution days at Factorial. The contribution days will allow the team to dedicate more time on open source projects and will be available for every team member. Open source has always been shaping our corporate identity which is why we decided to take the leap and actively promote it in our team. Read in this article about our connection to open source and what led us to that decision.

Image showing an animated developer's desk with laptop, headphones and a little notebook in the factorial colours

Why we encourage open source

At Factorial, the words open source are strongly connected to our daily work. In our projects we most exclusively create our digital products with open source technology, building websites and web applications with Drupal, Laravel, Symfony, Node.js or Vue.js — only to name a few. This is why we are heavily relying on the awesome work, developers from all over the world are dedicating their valuable time to. It is their effort that keeps these technologies alive, updated and safe to use. 

Contributions therefore leave a great impact on the system and its community. In our projects we are trying to worship this approach as well by giving something back. This not only happens collaboratively as a team, also many of our team members have their individual projects where they are actively contributing to the open source community.

Some open source projects from our team members

We have a couple of team members that participate actively in the open source community. Our colleague Shibin for instance actively participates in the Decoupled Menu Initiative (Read his article here) in order to improve the developer experience for Drupal acting as a headless CMS.

Besides that there is Michi who created Miyagi, a storybook alternative that allows you to have awesome and really well structured component libraries or living style guides. Its philosophy is to stick as close to the platform technologies as possible and doesn’t rely on many external libraries. It’s a great toolkit for component based frontend development. With clever naming conventions of your css custom properties, you get valuable design tokens such as font-variants, colors, spacings visualized out of the box.

Another example for continuous contribution is our colleague Kristiaan. He picked up his work on his Drupal module Group already 8 years ago. The Group module enables users to create arbitrary collections of web content and handles the access control permissions on those collections. Currently almost 11.500 websites report using this module. In this year, a new release came to life (Read his article here) that brought the additional feature of making Groups fully revisionable through code and the UI. Since the start of Group much has happened and Kristiaan received a wave of appreciation within the community for his work. But during years of development he also stumbled upon something that we think is giving the core idea of open source a negative connotation.

Great power comes with great responsibility

In the previous paragraph you have seen the amount of positive feedback that is passed on in the open source community. But in between all the acknowledgement there are the limitations a passionate developer is facing while dedicating his/her/their time to the numerous requests and bug fixes.

The problem here is, that all of this open source contribution has to be made simultaneously to a full-time employment, because the open source work is mostly not being financially compensated. This means that the developer often squeezes extra work into his/her/their timetable in order to do equal justice to all. And this work doesn’t shrink on a long term perspective, because the more work that is put into the open source project, the louder the calls for requests get. Suddenly, the developer’s passionate project becomes an extra burden in order to keep up with the increased workload. If this goes on and on, it’s hard to maintain creativity and passion in such a high pressure environment.

We think that tech companies that benefit from open source technologies have a responsibility to shape and also support that community. And they should try to enable their employees to participate in it as part of their jobs.

We want to give something back

We at Factorial want to encourage our team members to focus on their contributional work without having to worry about the financial coverage that much. For this reason, from the beginning of 2022, we at Factorial announce the Contribution Days. We give 10 additional days every year to each of our team members to dedicate them to open source contributions. This is not only scoped to our team of developers. We want to encourage everyone, no matter what discipline, to contribute to open source. That could be fixing bugs in an existing open source project, designing a website for an open source project or even helping to organize a meetup or conference. Basically everything that helps the open source community is a great fit.

With this approach we hope to get more of us engaged in open source projects and want to create a supportive environment for our team members in being more creative and passionate about their work. Also we want to highlight the very core of open source — to work together and spend your time on things you like.

Julian Schäfer

Julian Schäfer

People Lead Frontend Development