Meeting a Maven: Deng Ching of Apache Archiva and DevZuz

Today, I’m continuing a series of interviews with developers from DevZuz and the open source community, by talking to Deng Ching. For past interviews in the series, see the DevZuz Developer Biographies page.

Brett: Hi Deng! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

Deng: Hi Brett. I’m Maria Odea Ching or just Deng for short. I am based in Manila, Philippines and have been with Exist for more than two years already. I started my work with DevZuz in late 2005. That’s the same time I also started to get involved in ASF projects like Maven, Continuum and Archiva and I became a Maven committer the following year.

Brett: I’ve heard some people say that they thought that Maria was a different person. How did you get to be called Deng?

Deng: Actually, Deng has been my nick name ever since I was little. But since my first name is really Maria Odea, people sometimes get confused that Deng or Maria (or even Odea) are different persons.

I remember when I first met Wendy (Smoak), she asked me if Maria and me are the same person. I guess I must be confusing everyone in IRC and the mailing lists.

Brett: What things do you like to do for fun when you’re not at work?

Deng: I just love going to the movies and to the spa. I feel relaxed and laid back when I’m doing either of these two. I also love going out and having some quality time with my family or friends. This, I usually do during weekends.

I’ve also been dabbling a little bit with photography, so I try to practice taking photos or attend workshops when I have some spare time.

Brett: So, how was it that you were first able to get involved in the Apache Maven project?

Deng: It was when I started with DevZuz that I got involved in the Apache Maven project. I was part of a product development team that developed features and fixed bugs for the then would-be product of DevZuz (which is the Maestro now). We started at first with the Maven 2 plugins and the Maven Repository Manager (Archiva), and after a while Continuum as well. We contributed our work to the community and after some time, I became a committer in Maven.

Brett: What do you like most about working with DevZuz?

Deng: I like what I do at DevZuz, and I like the people I work with.

Brett: What is it like working on open source software for your day job?

Deng: It’s cool that I get to contribute to the community even if I’m at work since that’s what I already do at work. I also loved it that I was able to learn many things — from other people’s work (best practices for coding and design, cool libraries/technologies) as well as from the people themselves. I think I really grew a lot not only as a developer but as a person too.

There are times when I get assigned an issue at work that I’m not overly excited about and I also have other issues in the community that I really really want to work on. But then, I have to prioritize the issue I have at work since on the work side that’s more urgent than the community issue I wanted to do. So my community issue would just have to wait after the issue from work is finished. Come to think of it, sometimes the community issue is a good motivation for me to finish my issue from work as soon as I can so that I could work on it immediately.

Brett: How has your attitude to open source changed since you started?

Deng: Well, previously, I used to be a user of open source software. But now, I’m an open source software developer. I am definitely happy about this shift and I’m enjoying what I do now… even if I spend all my weekends waiting for Archiva to deploy now!

Although my involvement in the community had started out being for work, I really liked being involved in open source and doing more things on my own after becoming a committer.

Brett: You were recently voted onto the Maven Project Management Committee. What was that like?

Deng: I was really happy about that. Actually, I was very excited I wasn’t able to sleep the night I found out. I know it’s a big responsibility and I’m looking forward to the new challenges ahead.

Brett: So what do you work on in Maven these days?

Deng: Most of my work these days are with Archiva. Right now, we’re getting ready for another beta release and we’re pushing to have a 1.0 release soon. There are still a lot of work that needs to be done in Archiva, but for me, I can say that I am happy about where it is going. There have been a lot of activity in the IRC and mailing lists lately.

Brett: Some people may not have heard of Archiva yet. What is it?

Deng: Archiva is a build repository manager. You can use it to manage internal repositories and use it as a proxy cache for remote repositories as well. It also has the capability to search the managed repositories for artifacts that you need using an interface.

Archiva also provides reports regarding the health of the repository (e.g. which artifacts are corrupted, which are missing checksums, etc.), and a feature for purging the repository of old snapshots.

Brett: You recently decided to start doing the releases for Archiva. Was there a particular reason that appealed to you?

Deng: Not really, I just wanted to try my hand out at doing releases. I actually enjoyed doing it. Also, I felt that it’s another way for me to become more active in the community.

Brett: What do you see coming next for Archiva?

Deng: Well, there are already a lot of new features planned for Archiva after 1.0, like the web services interface and the sync functionality for the repositories. Maybe we could also convert it to GWT in the future.

For Archiva, it would be really great to have the sync feature for the repositories. It’s really handy for maintaining mirrors of remote repositories. It’s also nice to have additional reports, like what the contents of the repositories are, aside from the repository health report that Archiva currently has.

Brett: It’s been great talking to you – is there anything else you’d like to add?

Deng: Thanks for this interview.

Brett: It’s been my pleasure. As is now the tradition here, would you like to leave us with a message in Filipino for the readers from the Philippines?

Deng: Sana mas maraming Pinoy developers ang mahikayat na maging active sa Open Source community. Simulan natin sa Maven!

Brett: Thanks, Deng!

As always, if you’d like to hear more from Deng, you can check out her blog.

Next month, I’ll talk to the "keeper of the central repository", Carlos Sanchez, about his history with the Maven project, and what he’s been working on with Eclipse recently.

Brett Porter is the Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of DevZuz. He has co-authored the book "Better Builds with Maven", and is a Member of the Apache Software Foundation, serving on various project management committees including Apache Maven since 2003.

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