Two month retrospectives - What your board did so far

Tomas Petricek, 17 September 2017

Back in July, we asked everyone on the F# Software Foundation board what are their plans for the first two months. Two months later, in August, I asked everyone to write a brief retrospective:

Big thanks to everyone who responded to my question about “2 month plans” for their board membership! As you know, I started The F# Mirror to inform the F# community about what the board is up to and published the commitments there together with an update in the mid-term. Now that the 2 months are over, I’d like to collect “retrospectives”. (…)

You can share links to what you did, reflect on what are “blocking issues” for some of the ideas or ask the readers for feedback on anything! (I will create GitHub issue for comments.) I’d like to split the retrospectives from more future plans - I will be coming back to collect future plans next week!

Announcements

Before I share the retrospectives from the board members, I thought that it would be useful to highlight the most important news based on the reports from board members. The most important news from the first two months are:

  • Community diversity programme - The F# Software Foundation launched a community diversity programme! The programme currently offers free tickets to F# conferences and other events for members from underrepresented minorities.
    Thanks to Kit Eason (@kitlovesfsharp) who initiated this.

  • F# Mentorship (round 3) - The F# Software foundation organised third round of the mentorship programme which pairs students with mentors and provides a great way to learn more about F# by meeting regularly for 8 weeks. Thanks to Gien Verschatse (@selketjah for getting the round three started. This is happening now, but keep an eye on @fsharporg for future rounds!

  • Open meeting agenda - The open meeting agenda initiative started by Alena Hall (@lenadroid) allows everyone in the community to suggest topics that the F# board should discuss. Have a look at the existing discussions and if you have something that the board should cover, open an issue!

  • Growing a local community - Starting a user group is a huge task. To make it easier to grow the F# community, Mathias Brandewinder (@brandewinder) started collecting ideas, tips and tricks in this document. It is not yet on fsharp.org, but the plan is to publish it there eventually. In the meantime, send Mathias your comments!

  • We also have two new or resurrected F# meetups around the world. F# |> Quito in Ecuador started by Edgar Sanchez (@edgarsanchez) is the highest F# meetup in the world (an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level) and had 4 events already. The F#un and MOre Rhein-Main meetup resumed working thanks to Victor Peter Rouven Müller (@realvictorprm).

Upcoming conferences

We also have two F# conferences coming very soon. Those are not directly organised by the F# Software Foundation, but they are supported by the F# Foundation community diversity programme. The Open F# conference is also co-organised by two F# Foundation members (Gien Verschatse (@selketjah, Mathias Brandewinder (@brandewinder)), so they deserve a mention in the Mirror too!

  • Open F# (28-29 September 2017, San Francisco, USA) is a two day F# conference with two tracks full of workshops and talks for both beginners and experts.

  • FableConf (22-23 September 2017, Bordeaux, France) is a one day conference focused on Fable - the awesome F# to JavaScript compiler - featuring talks on Fable, Elmish and many other client-side development topics.

Retrospectives from members

As mentioned above, I asked everyone to write a brief retrospective. The idea was to learn what went well, where there is a room for improvement and also, how the community can help the F# board. You can find the retrospectives below.

Alena Hall (@lenadroid)

I am supper happy that the Board accepted my Community Agenda/Open Agenda proposal. I am even more happy that we have received 4 issues during the first 3 days of fssf-ask-the-board was available! During the August Board meeting we have discussed all of them and responses are on the way (if not already there).

I strongly believe that the Community should primarily define what we do as a Foundation, therefore, now we have a direct way for each F# Community member to reach us with their ideas and proposals. I really encourage everyone to submit all the proposals you might have, how to make F# even greater, how to increase diversity of the Community, how to bring more contributions to the language, and any other thoughts. They are all welcome, please, don’t hesitate.

Chet Husk (@chethusk)

[With respect to] my board goals, let me point you to what I’ve been spending my time on recently F# Projects .Net Core/New SDK Upgrades This document is my beginning of auditing the ecosystem, starting with introductory/highly used projects, and identifying what it would take to get those projects updated to .net core and the new SDK.

This is in line with my experiences with newcomers to F# in my workplace and in my local meetup.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks is the lack of a unified way to interact with F# projects, coupled with a distrust of mono from *Nix folks. I hope to coordinate PRs against projects identified here with other community members and eventually green up the most common entry points/projects in our ecosystem. I want things like the koans to be a simple dotnet watch + live-coding experience so that newcomers have zero friction. I want headline F# projects to be using the latest and greatest tech so that we combat the perception that F# isn’t up to date with how dotnet as a whole does things.

Mostly because the feedback I’ve gotten from local newcomers who were very confused about how to get F#, difference between mono and dotnet core, and why F# just wasn’t on the new thing.

Edgar Sanchez (@edgarsanchez)

  1. Starting the local F# group was easy, an even having regular monthly meetings hasn’t been hard, getting over 10 or so people coming is hard, getting other speakers is hard (but volunteers are starting to appear)

  2. Presenting F# in universities has been surprisingly popular, even more surprising the fact that I’ve made more workshops with teachers than with students, 4 workshops and 3 sessions so far, and counting :-). The goal of getting teachers to officially use F# in the classroom hasn’t happened yet, but the fact that one uni is already paying for a 40-hour workshop for teachers makes me hopeful (edited)

  3. Getting a new F# group in another city is stalled, there is interest but no one has jumped into it so far, and the success of Point 2 has got most of my focus

  4. I started a series of blog posts about very simple introductory F# topics that has been, to my surprise, well received. I encourage everyone to share whatever little knowledge you’ve got, there will always be people who will benefit! The next frontier: videos, a lot of people ask for it, I am slowly getting stamina for the inevitable… :-)

Mathias Brandewinder (@brandewinder)

I had 4 goals this quarter, which was probably a bit aggressive.

On the positive side, I kept my commitment to show up for office hours every Friday, 16:00 UTC, in the #fssf Slack channel. I started the office hours to make the Foundation and its board less impersonal, by opening up a space where members could bring up their questions, ideas or concerns, and simply have conversations. I am very thankful for all of you who came to chat, the conversations were both useful and fun, and I’ll keep going with office hours.

The part that didn’t go as well as I hoped is my three other goals. I did make my notes on growing a meetup/local community publicly available, but the solution feels half-baked. It’s editable, but not really easy to find. With Reed’s help, I made sure a large inventory of stickers was available in Europe (and South America should be covered soon as well). However, again, that’s only a partial solution - there is no good way for members to find about that resource, and the mechanics of distributing stickers is still overly complicated. And I gathered some feedback on what I think will be a simpler Speakers program, but I haven’t had time to go further than that.

What were the blockers, and what do I plan to do about them going forward?

One obvious blocker is time; small FSSF-related activities end up eating a surprising amount of bandwidth. As an example, preparing and posting announcements, tweets and Facebook updates for fsharp.org is time consuming, and needs to happen. So one of my goals ahead is for me to become less of a bottleneck in the Communications Working Group; but for that, I need help. So if you have been wondering how to help fsharp.org, one simple first step is to join the Ministry of Propaganda (ping me on Slack to know more about it), and help craft our public messages!

The other blocker is, there is no obvious place to make resources easy to discover. Technically, both goals (stickers, meetup guidebook) are done. But left in their current state, I doubt anyone will find out about them. In that frame, two things I would like to focus on next are, providing a central “community resources” page on community.fsharp.org, with clear links, and making awareness about these resources and programs a priority for the Ministry of Propaganda. Did I mention already that we need your help? :-)

Victor Peter Rouven Müller (@realvictorprm)

Instead of doing much for the F# website I’ve started looking where my current skills are more helpful. I was blocked during the two months due to personal reasons (final school exams) and due to my experience of what is achievable.

However during those two months I was able to setup a cooperation with the new .NET group in Frankfurt (I’ve attended it personally and achieved that the next meetups are going to be about F# mainly!). Also I collected information about in which other topics F# needs more love (discovered game development ;-))

It would be great if people simply show that they’re behind us Trustee’s. More people and companies are going to listen to us the more people are behind us.

Yukitoshi Suzuki (@yukitos)

I don’t have no updates about web site’s language support as a board. On the other hand, when I held a local F# meetup one month ago, I asked attendees how often they’re using our web site and whether they want to have other language version of the site. Unfortunately the most of their answers were no. However, I felt that they just don’t know how useful information can be found on our web site, so I’d rather like to prioritize advertizing our site, then investigate which pages are more useful and worth for the cost of translation.

Gien Verschatse (@selketjah)

Unfortunately, the retrospective from Gien got lost because of the 10,000 message history limit on Slack and sloppy work by your reporter (who should have copied it somewhere else rather than relying on ephemeral digital archives!) However, Gien reported the following things in her retrospective:

  • Became the Chairperson of the Training and Education Working Group and adapted her 2 month goals to focus more on activities related to the mission of this group.
  • Started the third round of the F# Mentorship programme.
  • Has been running regular office hours on every other Monday (5pm London, 9am West, 12pm East, 1am Tokyo).
  • Became the distributor of F# stickers for Europe. If you need some, ping @selketjah
  • Finally, Gien has also been co-organising the Open F# conference (which is not an activity of the board, but has been taking a lot of time recently)

Kit Eason (@kitlovesfsharp)

[We did not get a retrospective from Kit, but he was instrumental in starting the Community diversity programme.]

Scott Wlaschin (@ScottWlaschin)

[We were not able to get a reply on Slack from Scott.]

Article history

  • 21 September - The new round of mentorship is third rather than second round as previously reported. (Thanks Gien for the correction!)


First month update from the board

Tomas Petricek, 25 July 2017

It has been almost three weeks since I started The Failing F# Mirror and the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. In the first post from 6 July, I asked all the board members for their plans for the first two months. There is still a bit of time before these are due, but I collected a couple of mid-term updates. The notes from the first meeting of the new board also appeared on the foundation web site, so there are more news to report!

What’s in the meeting notes?

Let’s start with the meeting notes. Here are the most important items from the notes:

  • The foundation became sponsor of FableConf 2017 and of Open FSharp 2017. The first conference received a donation of $1000 and the foundation became Platinum sponsor of the second one (your reporter was, however, unable to find out how much that is).

  • Paulmichael Blasucci (@pblasucci) became the treasurer of the F# Software Foundation. Given that the foundation was without a treasurer for a long time, this should make the operation smoother, but it also means that The F# Mirror has another person to investigate (we know that Paul is from New Jersey, so care is order)!

  • Gien Verschatse (@selketjah) became the Chairperson of the Training and Education Working Group. A comment from Gien on the new role is included below in the updates.

Updates from members

As promised, I asked the board members for an update on their work for the board so far. This was more an opportunity to share thoughts, because there is still time until the end of the two month period. My question from 10 July is below. To make going through the list of updates easier, I group them a bit roughly based on the topics.

(…) It’s been a month or so since I first asked, so I’d be happy to publish updates - in case your plans have changed (as plans always do) and you’d like to update the plans (or in case you successfully completed something early!) – so, if you want to include a brief update in the next issue, please send them to me! (…) If you have no updates and you’re busy working on your 2 [month] plans, that’s good too - I’ll just include “No update - working on the commitments listed originally”!

Members hosting office hours

  • Gien Verschatse (@selketjah) - When I took up the position of chairperson of the workgroup communication and training I had to shift my priorities a bit and I decided to work on closing the last round of the mentorship programme and starting a new one. I also decided, as being a chairperson, being present on the slack was important and I would introduce biweekly office hours.

    The F# Mirror confirms the biweekly office hours have been happening at 5pm London time (9am West Coast, 12pm East Coast, 1am Tokyo) on Mondays 10 July and 24 July in #fssf, so the next one will be on 7 August. Do join!

    Gien is also working on setting up F# sticker distribution centre in Europe and shared the following photo with us:

  • Mathias Brandewinder (@brandewinder) - I had promised to dig up my notes on “how to start and grow a meetup” from the Google Docs basement where it was stored. This is done, and that has been put on GitHub. The document is super rough, but this is what I had - now I would love input / feedback on how to make this better. If you have thoughts / experience / questions about starting or growing an F# meetup, talk to me, or, better, send a PR to this doc. Note that this isn’t “published” / visible on the website at the moment, so this should also be low pressure to send edits.

    The F# Mirror also confirms the Mathias has been hosting his weekly office hours regularly. Those happen on Fridays, 5pm London time (9am West Coast, 12pm East Coast, 1am Tokyo) in #fssf. Do join!

New F# meetup in Quito

  • Edgar Sanchez (@edgarsanchez) - [F]irst the good news, F# |> Quito became a thing, we have already had two monthly meetings, and we have date for the next one, August 8th, the attendance is small but stable, and we’ll have a volunteer speaker next time.

    On the “help start F# UG in another country” things has been slow so far, my friends in Lima, Perú are hesitant to volunteer, but I keep working on it. On the other, one goal I didn’t state (…) is that I planned to do a workshop with university teachers once every quarter. [T]his has gone like crazy, currently I have shown F# to teachers in 3 local universities so far, and I’m visiting another one this weekend!

    Given that the F# |> Quito goal seems to be accomplished, I’m ready to set a new goal: to work with school / uni teachers at least once every two months (…) talking about F# in education.

    Edgar also shared a link to his new blog where he published 3 blog posts recently, including a guide on getting started with F# on Ubuntu. Reed Copsey commented that “[he]’d love to see the ‘use’ guides on fsharp.org written more like [Edgar’s] blog”. Your reporter suggested improving the ‘use’ guides as a nice additional goal…

F# Community Diversity Program

  • Kit Eason (@kitlovesfsharp) - The F# Mirror did not get a direct message from Kit, but we report that Kit was behind the newly started F# Community Diversity Program, which was his second goal. The program will be supporting members of underrepresented minorities to attend conferences and other community events.

Work-in-progress updates

  • Alena Hall (@lenadroid) - Good news about “open-agenda” or “community-agenda”! The Board liked my draft and proposal, so right now we are setting things up to really try it out starting with next meeting.
    The F# Mirror will share any announcements about this!

  • Chet Husk (@chethusk) - I’m working on a plan of attack to update the learning resources mentioned on the Learn pages of fsharp.org, to get a community effort around bringing them up to date with the new SDK and focus on the zero-to-coding experience for new developers.

There were also two interesting discussions in the #fssf channel that your reporter noticed.

  • First of all, Ryan Riley (@panesofglass) joined to briefly talk about the futrue of c4fsharp.net and figuring out how the resurce could be made more useful.

  • Second, Krzysztof Cieślak (@k_cieslak) commented on the goal to have 2,500 Slack members by the end of the year and compared the numbers with other Slacks (Elixir 15,400 and Elm 9,400). Your reporter noted that those are open while the F# Foundation Slack requires a FSSF membership - Reed Copsey said that the foundation is working on making easier Slack sign-in easier.

The F# Mirror did not get an update from Scott Wlaschin, Victor Peter Rouven Müller and Yukitoshi Suzuki this time, but as noted above - this was just an opportunity to share news with The F# Mirror readers!

Finally, thanks to our first contributor, Daniel J. Summers, The F# Mirror now uses Jekyll in a more reasonable way, so you can share links to individual posts!



Board member plans for the first two months

Tomas Petricek, 6 July 2017

Back in May 2017, the F# Software Foundation elected the new Board of Trustees. In the previous years, many people in the F# community found it hard to see what exactly the board is doing and how are individual board members contributing. To help with this, I thought it would be a good idea to keep track of what the board is up to.

On May 30, I posted the following question to the F# Foundation Slack channel:

I have one question for everyone on the board @lenadroid @chethusk @edgarsanchez @selketjah @kit @mathias @swlaschin @realvictorprm @yukitos - What is one thing that you plan to do as a board member in the next two months? I know how hard it is to do larger things, so this could be really anything - even a small thing - that can be marked as “done” after two months. (…)

Answers from members

Everyone from the board was happy to share their plans for the first two months and I got answers from everyone in a day or two. I was a bit slow at putting them online (sorry!) but here are the plans for all the board members (slightly edited for formatting, sorted alphabetically as in the board announcement):

  • Alena Hall (@lenadroid) - Finish draft of “open agenda” and help make it happen [edit: “open agenda” would let the community see and contribute topics for the agenda of the monthly FSSF board meetings.]

  • Chet Husk (@chethusk) - I intend to collate resources I’ve used for the reforming Austin F# meetup and contribute one or more documents to the ‘Learn’ page of the fsharp.org site.

  • Edgar Sanchez (@edgarsanchez) - Make the F# |> Quito [meetup] a thing, and by extension, get one or two additional countries to have a working F# [user group].

  • Gien Verschatse (@selketjah) [I will work on] getting a ‘draft’ ready for “adopt a speaker” [programme].

  • Kit Eason (@kitlovesfsharp) - [O]ne of my concerns is the state of the F# jobs market; and one component of that is lack of insight by recruiters as to what F# is, how to attract and engage with F# devs etc. So - how about a doc, fsharp.org page or even event, specifically for recruiters, that answers these questions. (…) [As a second two-month commitment, I’ll] research how other communities approach diversity (JS, Python, SheCanCode, Rails, Scala (free courses), Lambda Ladies).

  • Mathias Brandewinder (@brandewinder) - [I will] keep being on [the #fssf channel] every Friday for office hours, find where my “how to start and run a meetup” notes are and make them into resources on community.fsharp.org, advertise and simplify the speakers program, figure out how to efficiently distribute stickers.

  • Scott Wlaschin (@ScottWlaschin) - [No answer.]

  • Victor Peter Rouven Müller (@realvictorprm) [U]pdate fsharp.org in such a way that we can start with education-support and listing important F# OSS projects and their needs. (…). I first want to improve support for education and meanwhile try to work out what is possible for OSS (…).

  • Yukitoshi Suzuki (@yukitos) - I’d want to find any ways to support [multiple] languages on [the] fsharp.org web site.

Final notes

It has now been over a month since I asked the above questions, so I will be getting touch with everyone over the next week to get an update and share it here. This page is hosted on GitHub and so please send any corrections of typos or misleading wording (where I edited an answer badly) as pull request.

As a disclaimer - I’m not currently a board member, but I was a board member until 2016. Two of the current board members, Mathias Brandewinder and Scott Wlaschin are also my partners at fsharpworks.com.