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From Learning to Code to Open Source Advocate: Brian Douglas, First Hire at Netlify and First Dev Advocate at GitHub

Tracy Lee and Brian Douglas chat about coding, self-learning, open source, and developer relations in this episode of Just Ship IT.

Brian's coding journey started in 2013 during a challenging period when his son was born prematurely, requiring a prolonged hospital stay. He sought a way to locate churches near the hospital and realized the need for a church review app. This sparked his determination to learn to code.

Brian highlights many successful developers didn't follow the traditional college route but instead found their way through self-learning and unwavering dedication. Brian's path to coding was largely self-guided. He utilized various online tutorials and courses to acquire the skills he needed. His learning adventure led him to the world of Ruby on Rails. Tracy and Brian emphasize the difference between self-motivated learners and those who treat coding as a checkbox item. They discuss the significance of immersing oneself in the learning process to truly grasp the fundamentals.

Brian worked at Netlify for about two years, a journey that began when he switched to Netlify for hosting. Eventually, Matt from Netlify reached out, offering Brian a role that would help shape the JAMstack landscape.

This diverse role at Netlify involved both front-end engineering and DevRel activities. Brian shares the story of creating This tool exemplifies his dedication to empowering the open source community.

Brian has made significant contributions in open source. He discusses the importance of mentoring others to contribute to open source projects and foster a culture of collaboration. The evolution of open source metrics is brought up, emphasizing that there's more to success than just star counts. Metrics like commit velocity and issue-to-PR conversion offer deeper insights into a project's health and growth.

Brian and Tracy conclude their conversation with a discussion on developer relations (DevRel). They stress that DevRel professionals should prioritize engagement and building relationships over focusing solely on metrics and numbers.

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