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Contributor Spotlight

Tim Jacomb

Brighton, England
First Commit: 2014
Date Published: 2024-02-21

Tim Jacomb is a software engineer based in Brighton, England and has been involved with the Jenkins project for over 10 years. Over this time, he has implemented several UI/UX updates and optimizations, reviewed thousands of pull requests for multiple areas of Jenkins, and currently serves as the Release Officer.

Tim is originally from New Zealand and loves exploring the world. He has traveled to 50 countries thus far, with Gothenburg in Sweden being his favorite place to visit. His desire to see Europe led to him settling down in the UK around seven years ago. In his free time, Tim likes exploring the countryside, going out for walks, rock climbing, and generally spending time in nature.

What is your background prior to contributing to Jenkins?

I used Jenkins at my first job out of university. It was a tool that we used for our builds, so it’s something that I learned as soon as I started working. Then, I got more involved with development and started learning about Linux servers and managing them. This turned out to be valuable information because we were eventually running these things in our team.

How long have you been using Jenkins?

I’ve been using Jenkins for roughly 10 to 11 years.

Why choose Jenkins over other projects?

Back then it was pretty much the only free option. Our team was entirely focused on open source, so being free and open source were the ideal criteria. Our work was Java based and everything we ran or used was open source. It was just easy to get up and going, without having to worry about licensing or funding. As far as I knew, Jenkins was the best tool for that sort of thing at the time.

What problems has Jenkins solved for you?

Repeatable builds that show they’ve built beyond someone’s local machine. Being able to maintain repeatable deployments, content, and builds helps with scalability. This also helps when hundreds of people are using it and creating thousands of builds daily. Compared to other options it’s fairly cheap, easy to run, and you don’t have to rely on a provider or other party. We just do it ourselves really easily and it’s fairly stable, I just can’t find another service like Jenkins.

Is there an aspect of Jenkins that you’re particularly passionate about?

I like to work on the UI side of it. I feel like there’s a lot to improve there and there’s a lot that can be done to make it even nicer. Most of my contributions are around performance or stability issues and then general improvements that I’m working on.

What sort of contributions have felt the most successful or impactful?

I appreciate the modernization work that’s going on. Some of the features that Jan Faracik has implemented UI modernization for are fantastic. This modernization is helping us drop all those old technologies and frameworks. The Prototype removal may not be hugely visible, but its impact is immense. This modernization also means there’s hacks that can be dropped and modern libraries that were previously affected can now be used.

Advice for new developers and new members of the open-source community

Getting started as a contributor is really hard, especially when you’re trying to figure out how the project works, but the guides, documentation, and best practices really help when contributing. At first, I would say start with small changes and fixes so you can learn about the project as you go. Don’t try to bite off something too big, just learn how it works and get familiar with stuff. Keep in mind there’s a lot of history to the project and there’s a lot of things there to understand. There’s always opportunities to improve and there are several areas with open issues to be worked on.