The power of community – how our employees became a part of a global network

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How to build your portfolio as a developer and be on the fast track to career development? What is the recipe for keeping up with modern technologies? How can an IT company be recognized as modern, open, trendy? The answer to everything is… the open-source community. 

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What is the Open Source Community?

To understand the real power of community, let’s explain clearly what the open-source community is. The open-source community is a community of contributors from all over the world who are loosely organized around some project. It’s a team of people who are fascinated by the open creation of code. They share an interest in meeting a common need. In most cases, this product solves their problem, so they want to learn it and use it to improve it further. These are the main reasons, but there are many more. It’s one of the most successful examples of high-performance collaboration and community-building on the I\internet. This is the simplest and most general answer to the question of what the open-source community is. Let’s dig deeper.

“Open source is a recipe for keeping up with modern technologies. Technologies appear here first. If you are a developer, open source allows you to stay up to date with technologies. From the business perspective, you can be a step ahead of your competition faster. Commercial platforms are catching up to the open source platforms, but they are rarely the first” – Piotr Karwatka, CTO at Divante.

Open source is the ultimate weapon for the modern CTO. Open source has become a standard; the way to build software these days. Not only in tech, like eCommerce, but in many other industries. Companies around the world use open source code to build their products, but also contribute value back to those projects. 

Divante, as the eCommerce leader, is an example of such a modern company which has a deep respect for the open source community. From the very beginning of the company, eleven years ago, all commercial projects have been made based on open source tools, platforms and libraries. Divante also builds its own products, such as Vue Storefront, but there are also many other, lesser known libraries or components. Why does Divante choose to work with open source communities?

Benefits of working in the Open Source Community. Win-win-win situation

The first of a long list of open-source community benefits is openness. Open source communities are very open, so if one wants to help, it’s easy to join. Many think that you have to be an experienced developer to join the open-source community, but it’s not true.

There are many people in the open-source community projects with different experience and a wide range of competences. 

People from all over the world join in – from beginners to experts. There are people with different specializations, from code creation to marketing. Contributing to open-source projects is not just writing code. This can be done in many different ways.

“Anyone, including beginners, can join such projects. Special tasks are prepared for such people, for example, to update the documentation. You do not even have to be a technical person, a programmer. You can develop documentation, test and design graphics. Everyone can join, even if it is not a pro. There is usually a positive atmosphere and constructive criticism. There is a lot of openness” – Cezary Olejarczyk, CTO at Open Loyalty.

The big advantage of working in the open-source community is people. It’s easy to meet a lot of interesting people with great stories, and exchange views, knowledge and comments. People in the community mutually motivate each other and check the quality of the code, which ensures its high quality. 

Cezary Olejarczyk, CTO at Open Loyalty
Cezary Olejarczyk, CTO at Open Loyalty

Working in open source communities gives universal benefits. It’s a win-win-win situation. There are benefits for employees, company, and also communities. 

Open-source community – benefits for employees. Build your personal brand

The open-source community is about the people who contribute, and it has a lot of different benefits. 

Full transparency, building a personal portfolio for now and in the future

One of the most important benefits of working in the open-source community is that you can show your work in your portfolio. The company doesn’t block these projects or prohibit their exposure. Everything is public, you can show your code to the world – code that is usually used by many people around the globe, which further motivates developers to work.

“When I applied to Divante, I was asked for a code sample. I had some experience and had realized some nice projects for previous employees, but I could not show them because of some restrictions. By working in the open source community, I can show my code where I want, when I want. It’s a part of my portfolio. This is extremely important from the perspective of a developer who wants to grow and build his career. From an employee perspective, open source has no disadvantages. I plan to do every other project as open source” – Patryk Tomczyk, Core Team Vue Storefront.

If someone wants to work in Divante, he can, for example, download Vue Storefront, review the code, and tinker with it. If the project appeals to him and he wants to get involved in it, he can apply to Divante.

Patryk Tomczyk, Core Team Vue Storefront
Patryk Tomczyk, Core Team Vue Storefront

Some companies advertise that they work with the latest technologies. Practice sometimes shows something else. Developer comes to work and it turns out that, for example, some tech stack is 10 years old.

“With open-source, in Divante, you can see at a glance what technology we use. The candidate can check us, nothing is hidden. He knows what we do, we are transparent to him” – adds Tomczyk.

Personal branding. Fast track to career development

Working in open source communities can help you to grow fast and build your personal brand. Filip Rakowski from Divante is an example of a person who made good use of these opportunities. He started working in Divante three years ago as a junior developer. Today, he is a Vue Storefront Co-Founder, working in the Vue.js core team. He’s being invited as a speaker to many conferences around the world and listened to by thousands of developers. For him, the open-source community was the fast track to career development.

“I’ve been working in the Vue Storefront project from the beginning, so I’m naturally more involved in it. And from the beginning, thus, I show myself with this product. I try to promote it, encourage others to use it, listen to feedback and then improve what is needed. Such a healthy involvement in the project is later noticeable by others” – Filip Rakowski, Vue Storefront Co-Founder.

Filip Rakowski, Vue Storefront Co-Founder
Filip Rakowski, Vue Storefront Co-Founder

Open Source Community – benefits for the company. Growth, New Technologies & Better Recognition 

There are many benefits for companies in terms of sales, building a brand, as well as cooperation.

Quick access to new technologies, fast learning

Growth is something that open source communities live on. If the project does not grow, it is lost. This motivates the developers involved in these projects. Developers feel it.

If someone is not really passionate, he is not contributing to the open-source community.  This is a catalyst for people with real passion, not those who only write in the description on their profile “Passionate developer” – in their case it is just an empty, fashionable slogan.

Employee growth

IT doesn’t like stagnation, so if developers want to stay in that business they have to constantly learn. Open source communities help with that. Employees have free access to competent, experienced developers from all over the world. They can derive knowledge from them and ask for advice and later transfer it into the company’s development.

Hackathons or events like #MeetPWA in Berlin give the opportunity to exchange knowledge and learn
Hackathons or events like #MeetPWA in Berlin give the opportunity to exchange knowledge and learn

Better Recognition & Easier Recruitment

The community makes the company recognizable. Open source has become a hot topic recently. If a company works in the open-source community, it is recognizable as modern, open and trendy. This is the first impression of the company, even before getting to know it better.

“Plenty of developers spend their time on GitHub. If they like the company’s project, they can join the company and choose to work for it full time. If many developers consider your project to be useful, they will start to make projects based on this project themselves. With time, commercial cooperation may come out of it” – Cezary Olejarczyk.

If a company’s project becomes popular, the company becomes popular in the community. Then it’s much easier to recruit people because they are more likely to choose companies that do cool things and their work will be noticed and appreciated.

In this way, the company creates an expert image. A company that has a great tool on offer is likely to be approached by customers who want to build something similar, just like SAP company.

“In Divante we have the Spartacus project, which is our Vue Storefront, but for SAP. The SAP company contacted us, saying that they appreciate what we do. They noticed that nobody else has done such things before. They made an offer to develop the project together. We now have about 20 people working together in a team with SAP” – Filip Rakowski.

Building a community around the company’s products

Divante is well known as the open-source company. 

“We managed to build a large community around Vue Storefront from scratch. This project has over 5,000 stars at GitHub, over 170 active developers and 1,800 developers on Slack who are chatting there. This is a vibrant, real community. People even give job advertisements looking for Vue Storefront developers. Together, as an Open Source Community, we managed to create a new job market” – comments Piotr Karwatka.

Divante organizes hackathons with partner companies with the aim being to familiarize people with the company’s solutions and train them to use these tools correctly. They are being held all over the world: in Amsterdam, Berlin, Tel Aviv, New York, and Poland. Around 30-50 people attend every single event. They receive free training and can learn a lot from experienced developers. This shows Divante’s commitment to the community.

“We are also starting to organize similar events related to sharing knowledge but directed more to business. The first such event, #MeetPWA, took place in Berlin, in the space of our new office in the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz. #MeetPWA brings together eCommerce experts to exchange views on Progressive Web App best practices and share future-proof solutions for global retail” – Tomasz Anioł, Event Manager at Divante.

Dominic Klein, Technical Specialist at Shopware AG during #MeetPWA in Berlin. Events like this are a great occasion to build the community, share knowledge, and exchange views
Dominic Klein, Technical Specialist at Shopware AG during #MeetPWA in Berlin. Events like this are a great occasion to build the community, share knowledge, and exchange views

The Wrap-Up. Open source is in Divante’s DNA

Working with the open source community provides a lot of benefits: for employees, companies, and the community itself. It’s a win-win-win situation. It can be a real fast track for career development, building a portfolio and ensuring employee growth. Open source is a recipe for keeping up with modern technologies; it makes the company recognizable and helps to transfer knowledge to the company. Open source is in Divante’s DNA, alongside tribes and a great atmosphere. Drop us a message, and see what some other benefits of working in Divante are.

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Published August 7, 2019