Evan's Presentation at Swedish Meetup

Regarding some of the comments above…I think those are, in their essence valid concerns, and I’m sorry that you guys, or “we as a community” have had those challenges.

Again, I in no way wish to invalidate the essence of what you guys are saying. Those points are unfortunate indeed.

Nonetheless, many of the things you guys have said (valid as they may be) seem to paint a kind of damning picture of Evan’s leadership and/or Elm as a project, if not fleshed out with more of the context. I imagine you guys are likely fully aware of all the context I’m about to give but I’ll write it anyway for those who might read the thread and not be aware.

I imagine that more than anyone, Evan (the designer of Elm) would like very much to see those issues resolved, or to not have had them at all.

My understanding based on The Hard Parts of Open Source, from five years ago, is that Evan found it difficult to find people who had the required spare time and technical knowledge and shared style of working and who shared the design goals for the project, and who were also willing to endure the difficult challenges of working publicly in an ecosystem where negativity and drama are common. People tend to prioritize their personal interests rather than consider all the interests of all other users of Elm and also people often seem to engage in open source with a sense of entitlement. Also drama is incentivized in forums since that is more exciting and therefore gets more attention. So it’s difficult to find people to do that work in that environment with the required skills and characteristics unpaid. Please correct me if I misrepresented Evan’s presentation (most of the choice of wording/phrasing here is mine, but I tried to convey the essence of, or at least part of the message as I understood it).

What I think is particularly relevant in that presentation is his point that all this takes a psychological toll. In my view, the infinite and relentless demands of this type of project seem like the perfect recipe for burnout and that would take time to heal.

Evan did do a pretty good job of setting expectations 4 years ago where he said in his roadmap:

even in the wildest version of success, I wouldn’t expect the language or core packages to change very much. Maybe two or three years down the line it could reveal something that’d be good to fix up, but I don’t really foresee notable changes right now.

I plan to open source the final results of the broader exploration under the normal BSD-3-Clause that I use, but I am working more like when I was doing my thesis in 2011 and 2012: Put in a lot of serious work in a safe/comfortable work environment with healthy feedback loops, and publish when you are fully ready to present and defend your technical results. The broader exploration still has many difficult open questions that I have not answered for myself (let alone everyone else!) so I expect the remaining work to take a while longer."

Evan also wrote the following in a Nov. 2021 status update

I realize that this working style clashes heavily with the Silicon Valley style of using hype and reckless urgency to achieve GROWTH and DOMINANCE, but I needed to make some changes in my life to keep sane. I appreciate that these changes have implications for people with bosses or consulting clients who want the “corporate open source” style of emphasizing marketing and customer service, so I very much appreciate your patience with my present working style and hope you might find these early results interesting.

So there is an argument to be made that he has been fairly clear about what he is doing, and I think the idea is to create an open source Elm for the backend and actually resolve those issues that have been raised by building a hosting service that could provide the funds to pay a team of qualified people to work on developing/maintaining Elm.

So it seems there is a plan that’s being executed to address the raised issues and its encouraging that he has something that’s far enough along that he’s beginning to speak to small groups about it at this point to get feedback before he releases something to the general public.