Wallaby needs a new maintainer

August 10, 2018

2019-11-02 - Since I’ve written this post both Mitchell Hanberg and Michał Łępicki have stepped up to help maintain Wallaby. I’m going to leave this blog post up for posterity but in reality the project is now in very capable hands and is more active than its been in a long time.


I don’t have the time to maintain Wallaby in the way that it needs to be maintained. If you’re interested in taking over maintainership then please let me know in a github issue. I’m hoping that I can transfer it to someone who is looking for a way to break into the Elixir community.

If you wanna keep reading then buckle up because I’m about to write WAY too many words about a silly piece of software.

OMG why did you write this many words about a small open source project?

Wallaby is a really important project to me. It’s dumb to be emotionally attached to a piece of code, but it doesn’t make it not true. I’m broken inside and the specific fracture lines have made me sentimental about bits and bytes in a git repo. Don’t judge me.

Wallaby isn’t all that magical. Its arguably not even that popular as far as open source goes. But its important to me because it represents an important part of my life.

Tommy was actually the person who wanted to build wallaby in the first place. I just supplied the name. Ecto 2.0 was about to come out and it could support concurrent feature tests. At the time we were porting an internal app from ruby to Elixir, ostensibly as a proof of concept but really because Tommy and I wanted to be doing Elixir. We needed to write feature tests. Neither of us liked hound and it didn’t support concurrent tests so Tommy said, “Lets just build our own testing framework”. He did the initial proof of concept to make it work with the ecto 2.0-RC and wrote the initial plug that would extract metadata from the browser in order to pair up browser sessions with transactions. I spent most of my time working on the api and integration with webdriver.

At the time I was working at Carbon Five. I had been lurking around the Elixir community for a few years. All I wanted at the time was to be working in Elixir. I’m not even sure what drove that level of obsession. It was borderline religious. I had seen a better way to build systems and I was ready to nail my copy of Joe Armstong’s thesis to the Church of Silicon Valley Early Stage Startup’s front door. But Carbon Five makes it a point to not dictate technology choices for their clients. And at the time there weren’t any Elixir contracts.

During that time my only connection to Elixir was Wallaby. It provided a tangible link to this community I wanted so desperately to be in. And luckily for me the effort eventually paid off. I got to give a talk at ElixirConf about Wallaby. I got to speak at erlang factory (back when it was still called erlang factory) and ElixirDaze. Traveling to conferences enabled me to meet other Elixir folks like my dear friend Lance Halvorsen. Not only did Lance introduce me to Mission Chinese but he trusted me enough to help me get my first Elixir job. I got to meet people like Ben Marx, Johnny Winn, James Fish, Dave Thomas, Paul Lamb, Jeff Weiss, Amos King, Anna Neyzberg, Saša Jurić, Sonny Scroggin, Greg Mefford, Paul Schoenfelder, Fred Hebert, Josh Adams and a ton of other people that I’m rudely forgetting. These are people who have had a profound impact on my life both professionally and personally. I talk to many of these people daily and I’m honored to call them friends.

It’s dumb, but I can directly trace a lot of events in the last 2 years to a stupid joke; “Yeah, and we can call it Wallaby”.

So what now?

Two incredibly important people that I’ve been waiting to bring up are Tobias Pfeiffer and Aaron Renner. They’re the other part of the Wallaby core team and have made some invaluable contributions to the project. They’ve both taught me a lot about managing an open source project and working with people over the internet. I owe them so much and can’t say “Thank You” enough times to both of them. Its up to them how much involvement they want to have in the project going forward.

The first commit to wallaby was over 2 years ago. Since then the direction of my career has changed substantially. I don’t use Wallaby on a daily basis and I think its suffered because of that. I continually have a list of things that I’d like to do with it but I don’t make time for. But this is also a tool that people depend on as part of their business. Wallaby needs a maintainer that can be more involved in its development. To that end I’m hoping someone else is interested in taking over that role.

It might be that maintaining Wallaby just isn’t interesting to anyone, in which case Wallaby will probably largely stay as it is today. But if you’re looking for a way to get involved in the community or to start a career in Elixir then maybe its for you. It certainly worked for me.