Healing my open source addiction

I started my first open source project in 2012 to share my work with the community, to learn, and as a way to organize and document reusable pieces of code for my personal projects. Since then I’ve created a few relatively popular projects and published 85 npm packages.

My leather projects

However, the hostility of the open source community made me stop contributing and even looking at issues and pull requests of most of my projects. I also lost interest in writing code as a hobby over the years.

My open source journey I’ve written about open source before: from encouraging folks to do it, to explaining why I keep my personal code on GitHub, to ranting about the culture, and not contributing anymore.

I liked many things about open source, and it was a bit sad to loose them. Luckily, around the same time I found a new hobby that turned out to be a great, and much more healthy, replacement for open source — leathercraft.

Here’s what I like about it:

  • Design. I always loved to design things, whether it’s a site design, app user interface, or software architecture. Leather has it all: designing a product to solve a set of problems with a bunch of constraints is a lot of fun for me. Sketching, making templates on a computer — either based on a product I’ve seen somewhere else, or completely from scratch.
  • Iterations. Improving design over time: starting from paper prototypes and then using an actual thing in leather for some time to see how it performs and thinking how to solve uncovered issues (bugs).
  • Making something that people will use and love. Leathercraft is all about making useful products either for yourself, for your family, or friends. Things that people will use every day: wallets, keyholders, bags, camera straps, and so on.

And even more:

  • No more angry users demanding that you fix their problems for free. Leathercraft is primarily a solitary hobby. (It’s probably different when you try to sell your goods but that’s not my case now.)
  • No more sitting at the computer until night. I use computer only to draw templates that I later print, and an iPad to sketch new products. It still requires a lot of sitting though.
  • Leathercraft is very meditative and relaxing: cutting leather, finishing edges, stitching…

I also see some similarities with my work as a software developer, with the things I (still) like about it. I try to find some kind of design system for my leather work: learn certain ways of doing things, like cutting strap ends or finishing edges, or particular design elements like pockets, so all my leather products look consistent and match each other, but at the same time have a unique style.