CukenFest London Asks: Marit van Dijk
  February 27, 2019

In the build up to our annual BDD conference, CukenFest London, we've spoken to a few of our speakers about software development, BDD, and their upcoming session in April.

Our first interview is with Marit van Dijk. Marit is a core contributer to the Cucumber OSS and a software and test engineer at Marit will speak at CukenFest London on "Collaborating on Open Source". You can read more about her talk and others here.

How long have you been working in software? What inspired you to be involved?

I've been working in software development for about 15 years. In that time I've had many different roles in different companies. My roles have included information analysis, project management and test automation engineer. Over the years, I've gradually moved into more technical roles. At the moment I do test automation and software development.

What common anti-patterns do you see software delivery teams making?

The main challenge I have noticed in my career, is making sure to build the right thing and focus on the things that are important to your product or client. It can be quite hard to really understand your domain, and to translate that to software that provides the most value to the users.
At the same time, making sure to build it right can be quite a challenge. Especially when there is a high focus on delivering features and maybe not enough time to lower technical debt.

What drove you to first start contributing to an OSS project?

Due to a reorganisation at the company I was working for, I had to relearn (Java) programming. I started doing coding challenges, but after a while I wanted to work on an actual project and maybe do something useful. After switching employers, I started using Cucumber and really liked it, so I figured I'd see if I could contribute. When I first started, everyone was very helpful and welcoming - which is a big part of why I stayed so active. I love the feeling of being part of a community, doing things that help other people. And I've also learned lots of different things that are helpful in my day job.

What I like about open source is that it offers the opportunity to actually help improve the tools we all use at work.

If you were to give one piece of advice to someone willing to contribute to OSS, what would it?

As I will discuss in my talk, there are many, many different ways to contribute to OSS. You don't have to be a programmer, and it doesn't have to take a lot of time to make things just a little bit better. Everyone has something to offer to open source, based on their particular skill set. If you are looking for ways to contribute, I hope my talk will give you some ideas. And maybe we can get some people started during the open space?

What are you working on at the moment in the Cucumber OSS?

Sometimes I work Cucumber-jvm, but mainly I work on the documentation. There are plenty of things we would like to add and improve; unfortunately my time is limited. In addition, I'm active on the Cucumber Slack and try to help people who have questions.

What excites you about the future of OSS?

What I like about open source is that it offers the opportunity to actually help improve the tools we all use at work. If you find a bug or want an additional feature, you can build it. But mainly, I love the community around open source, of people who want to make things just a little bit better, a little bit at a time. What I love most, is people who stop by to contribute from fixing typos or dead links, or doing reviews, to building entire new features. It makes me really happy.

What are you most looking forward to at CukenFest London?

The people! Last year I got to meet a bunch of people I'd previously only collaborated with online. This year I look forward to seeing them again, and meeting new people! (And of course, if I can get anyone interested in collaborating with us, that would be a big bonus).

Join Marit and 120 other BDD enthusiasts for CukenFest London.