1 Year of CocoaPods

A year ago today, I made my first serious attempt at contributing to CocoaPods. Little would I know that a late Saturday night (that quickly turned into Sunday morning after I returned from a party) spent hacking on some Ruby would forever change the course of history. Well, maybe not history, but certainly my own story, and that of CocoaPods.

I’ve been a CocoaPods user since the spring of 2013, my formative days as an iOS developer, before I even knew how to write a coherent program in Ruby. I couldn’t tell you who had written CocoaPods, whether it was sponsored by a corporation, or whether it would be around in a year, but from day 1 I was heavily indebted to it. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that, without CocoaPods, I could not have made it as an iOS developer.

The first time I was ever forced to consider the idea that CocoaPods was a concrete thing, a human production, was when I saw the announcement on the CocoaPods blog of the Bug Bash. It was set for my last day of my very first college spring break, but I didn’t have anything better to do (I had been sidelined by two removed wisdom teeth earlier in the week), so I hopped on Metro North towards Manhattan, and Artsy HQ.

Not knowing whom I would meet, I took the elevator up to the 27th floor, and was promptly greeted by Orta. I sat down next to maybe five or six other people, and proceeded to triage issues. If memory serves, I had attended to the second-most issues that weekend, after Boris (hence his nickname, the Triagemaster General). I tried making one small fix to the specs, but it was really off-base, and I closed the pull request after a few minutes. Other than that, I had contributed no actual code to CocoaPods, but in trying to track down some of the issues, I learned a bit about CocoaPods worked internally. Even more importantly, however, I’d met Orta, along with chatting with Eloy, Fabio, and Kyle over IRC. It was a fun day, but still, it was no harbinger of the year to come. But it was a start.

I returned to the University of Chicago to begin spring quarter of my first year (where I currently plan on completing a triple major). While the first week of the quarter was filled with the obligatory reading, writing, and problem sets, I couldn’t help but feel a bit bored. So, I did what every nineteen year old college student does when bored on a Saturday night: git clone && bundle install && vim .. (Ok, maybe that isn’t the typical response, but bear with me.) I decided, in my naivety, to try and rewrite the CocoaPods dependency resolver, because I knew there was an outstanding issue to that effect.

That first PR seemed to get peoples’ attention. I had blindly copy-pasted most of the code from Bundler’s old resolver, but I had some of the basic CocoaPods specs passing. I also got 100 comments from HoundCI, complaining (rather prematurely) about code style. Right after that, I started to seriously talk with Fabio and Eloy about what would be needed to clean up that work and get it mergeable. Days of conversation ensued, in which I didn’t make any progress on the resolver, but I did manage to sneak in about a PR a day doing small things around the different CocoaPods repos. After a couple weeks of that, I had become a member of the core team.

At the end of April, Eloy pointed me towards Stripe’s announcement of their open source retreat. I’d been working on CocoaPods less than a month, but I was the member of the team most able to drop everything and move to San Fransisco. We had no idea what my proposal would actually promise, but I began to seriously consider taking the plunge and working on CocoaPods full-time. It took a full month to convince my dad to let me take a year off, but I convinced him just before flying out to SF for RubyMotion#inspect (and to meet the majority of the CocoaPods team). In between talks, Eloy and I polished up my proposal, and narrowed it down to one point: a new dependency resolver, potentially to be shared with bundler. And so I submitted the proposal right when I got back to school on May 30. (I took a redeye back and accidentally slept through both my classes that day. Oops.) I wasn’t sure what to expect. On one hand, I was affiliated with a relatively well-known project that had traction in the community. But on the other hand, I was a relative unknown, a random college student with no real track record of open source leadership.

On June 3, 1:22 AM Chicago time, I heard back from Greg Brockman – I was a finalist. He wanted to schedule a Skype call for later that day. We chatted for about half an hour, and I felt like I hadn’t made a total fool of myself. I settled back into nervous waiting. That night, at 7:07 PM, I had my response:

Hey Samuel,

You’re in!

And so a new chapter of my CocoaPods career began: I was the soon-to-be grantee. The night I found out happened to be the night before my last day of classes for the year, so after telling everyone and anyone I could call, I celebrated a bit in between juggling my final assignments and my last analysis p-set. I then had to go about preparing to take a year’s leave of absence while also writing papers and studying for finals (and eventually breaking up with my girlfriend).

Over the summer, I was an intern on the iOS team at Tumblr. While I was using CocoaPods on a daily basis at work, development on the tool itself had ground to a halt, both from me and everyone else. I managed to get in the odd pull request or two after work, but I didn’t focus much time on CocoaPods development. That all changed the day I moved to California, September 4th. I had one weekend to acclimate myself (and find an apartment) before starting the three-month retreat at Stripe.

My first day at Stripe was spent triaging upwards of 200 issues, which was an exhausting, yet incredibly productive way to start. On day two, I dug into my work on the dependency resolution algorithm. Later that week, Eloy, Kyle, and myself started to pull together the initial 0.34 release, which was a day-long Herculean effort. At the end of it, though, I finally felt like I belonged on the CocoaPods team.

So I hunkered down to work on the resolver, along with general CocoaPods improvements, for a solid month and a half. Other than a little fire I had to put out while sitting in SFO, things went very smoothly. Molinillo was born and integrated into CocoaPods, tests were written, and my integration PR was merged. The segiddins release was a go.

Since Stripe, I’ve been working at Realm. But I’ve also been writing a bunch of CocoaPods code, as well as diving head-first into both Bundler and RubyGems, spearheaded by Molinillo. I helped review Marius’ work bringing framework (and Swift) support to CocoaPods, along with prodding along the 0.36 release process. I built pod downloading caching and concurrent pod downloads. I’ve fixed a bunch of bugs (and introduced more than I’m proud to admit).

So, what does the future hold for me and CocoaPods? Right now, I don’t foresee any changes in the near future. I’ll continue working on some big stuff (the new Podfile DSL comes to mind), and hacking on things behind the scenes. I couldn’t imagine not working on CocoaPods now. It’s become a huge part of my life, both professionally and personally, and I’d miss it dearly if I weren’t committing to it every week.

Pod on.