Will Mozilla's restructuring and layoffs cause Rust to rust and fall off?
In this episode, we talk about Atlassian’s remote work policy, Fortnite’s battle with Google and Apple, and Twitter’s new API. We then speak with Ashley Williams and Steve Klabnik, engineers on the Rust core team, about how recent restructuring and layoffs at Mozilla impact the future of the Rust programming language.
Saron Yitbarek is the founder of Disco, host of the CodeNewbie podcast, and co-host of the base.cs podcast.
Josh Puetz is Principal Software Engineer at Forem.
Ashley Williams is principal open source engineer at Apollo GraphQL and is a member of the Rust Core team and the Rust Foundation Project Group. She has created tools for the Rust ecosystem such as wasm-pack and cargo-generate, and has participated on the crates.io, community, infrastructure, and webassembly teams.
Steve Klabnik is a member of the Rust core team, co-authored "The Rust Programming Language," and is an amateur sourdough baker.
[00:00:00] LS: Hey, DevNews listeners. This is Levi Sharpe, the producer of the podcast. We really want to benefit from your feedback on the show. So we’re gifting anyone who submits a review on Apple Podcasts, a pack of Dev stickers. All you have to do is leave a review on Apple Podcasts and then fill out the form in our show notes so that we have your mailing address for the stickers. Thanks for listening.
[00:00:31] SY: Welcome to DevNews, the news show for developers by developers, where we cover the latest in the world of tech. I’m Saron Yitbarek, Founder of CodeNewbie.
[00:00:40] JP: And I’m Josh Puetz, Principal Engineer at Dev.
[00:00:42] SY: This week, we’re talking about Atlassian’s remote work policy, Fortnite’s battle with Google and Apple, and Twitter’s new API.
[00:00:50] JP: And then we’ll be speaking with Ashley Williams and Steve Klabnik, Engineers in the Rust Core Team, about how recent restructurings and layoffs at Mozilla impact the future of the Rust Programming Language.
[00:00:59] AW: If you want to get paid to work on Rust full time, one of the biggest options has disappeared now, but the potential like implication with that type of model won’t work.
[00:01:12] SY: Atlassian announced that their almost 5,000 employees will no longer have to work from the office, even after the pandemic is over. This is a larger commitment to distributed work than other large companies like Google and Facebook, which told their employees that they could work from home until the end of summer 2021. However, Atlassian said that it plans to keep all their offices open around the globe at places such as San Francisco and Sydney, Australia. So I think this is a huge win for the remote work campaign to think about it.
[00:01:45] JP: Movement?
[00:01:46] SY: Movement, yes. I’m very okay with there being a remote work movement. Yeah. This This is a good step forward.
[00:01:51] JP: Yeah. What’s interesting to me is this is kind of an in between step. So they’re letting their employees work from home, but they’re maintaining their office space as well. It’s kind of a hybrid plan. We’ve seen other companies basically closed their offices during the pandemic and say that were moving to completely remote work. This is an interesting in between step.
[00:02:11] SY: Yeah. And I like this because I feel like if they ultimately decide to shut down their offices, that will be an even bigger win, like that will really be making a statement of, “Hey, people. If we can do it, you can probably do it. If we don’t need these offices and you’ll probably be okay,” and that’ll be a huge statement, I think, for the remote work movement, as we said.
[00:02:32] JP: I think a lot of companies are making these statements now to combat the sense employees might have that they’re on an extended work from home trial or it’s a temporary arrangement. I’ve heard from friends of mine that worked for some of these companies that it’s not always clear if this is a temporary arrangement, should employees be spending the time and effort to design their workspace at home or should they just plan on going back at some point. And an announcement like this from a company really cements that. Yeah, this is potentially for the long haul.
[00:03:05] SY: Yeah. And what I wonder about when it comes to remote work policies is how it’s going to affect salary and hiring because like one huge thing is a lot of developers work in huge cities. When you are in a big city, you have a higher cost of living. So you have a higher salary. So if you are working remotely and if a company is hiring remotely, well, frankly, they have a lot more options of hiring people in places that don’t have a higher cost of living and a little cheaper. I know that some companies don’t do that and some companies just pay one fee, one salary across the board, but I don’t think that’s most people. I think most people will pay you based on where you’re located. So I’m wondering what that means for people in big cities and high cost of living areas. Does that mean that they are going to get more left out? Are they going to be looked aside for people who are more cost effective than they are?
[00:03:56] JP: Yeah. This is a huge issue with remote work. The question of, “Should your salary be based on where you are physically located?” And it’s really hotly contested, and I think companies moving to remote bring up one of the biggest questions with having someone’s salary depend on where they’re physically located. And that’s the question of what happens if they move. If I live in a low cost of living area and I’m getting maybe say 60% of a San Francisco salary and I move back to San Francisco, does my salary go up? I think that question comes into play that if you’re living in a large city and now you’re working remote, we’ve heard stories of people saying, “You know, why do I live in this city? Why am I paying this high rent? Why do I have this high cost of living? I could move to a much cheaper area. I could move out to be closer to nature.” But then if your salary goes down, how does that work?
[00:04:48] SY: Yeah. Exactly. I was talking with someone recently where they were like, “The ultimate hack is to move into a big city, get a high paying job, then move into the country and then you’ll make that big salary and still get to live a life of peace and quiet.” So yeah. I’m really curious to see how those compensation trends take shape over the next couple years in response to remote work, in response to the pandemic.
[00:05:12] JP: So last week, Epic’s popular multiplayer game Fortnite was kicked off of the Apple App Store as well as the Google Play Store. The reason for this is because Epic games pushed an update that allowed users to make in-app purchases of game currency with discount directly from the company itself, rather going through Apple or Google’s payment processor, which would take a 30% cut of the purchase. Both Apple and Google say this is a violation of their policy for developers and apps. After Fortnite was removed from the Apple App Store, Epic not only sued Apple, but came up with a video within Fortnite, which parodies Apple’s famous 1984 commercial with the authoritarian Big Brother on screen being replaced with Apple.
[00:05:51] MAN: In exchange, we have taken our tribute, our profits, our control. This power is ours and ours alone. We shall prevail.
[00:06:05] SY: Ooh!
[00:06:06] JP: Yeah. You can still download the Android version of Fortnite through the Epic Games App or the Samsung Galaxy Store, because Android allows you to side load apps from third-party app stores. That’s not the case on iPhone. And unless you previously had the game downloaded on your device, you cannot currently install it because that policy reminds me of last week’s interview with Jonas Downey, Creator of the Hello Weather App, who likened the Apple’s policies for indie developers to an 800-pound gorilla rule.
[00:06:32] JD: For us, I think going forward, having learned what I’ve learned working on this, I would not, at this point, try to create any kind of business on a standalone mobile app. I don’t think it’s a viable model. You just really can’t make enough money with it to even pay a living wage, unless you have something else going on outside the store that sort of funds it.
[00:06:52] JP: And in more recent news, Apple threatened to suspend Epic’s developer tools on iOS and MacOS. This would impact Unreal Engine, which is used to create many cross platform games that run on both iOS and MacOS.
[00:07:03] SY: Wow! That’s intense.
[00:07:05] JP: This is a significant escalation by Apple and the part where Apple is now saying, “Not only are we going to ban Fortnite from the App Store, but we’re also going to ban Unreal Engine.” That could impact the development of other games from developers that are not Epic. It also could impact the development of games that Apple hosts on their own service, which is called Apple Arcade.
[00:07:27] SY: Do you think that’ll really happen though? That just feels like too much. Are we really worried them?
[00:07:33] JP: It really feels like a brinksmanship kind of situation. I should point out that Epic also filed a lawsuit against Google. Google is not threatening to withdraw their developer tools. So Unreal Engine is pretty safe on Android. There’s also the idea you can side load apps from other app stores on Android. So I feel like on Android, the situation is maybe not as dire.
[00:07:55] SY: Not as big of a deal. Yeah.
[00:07:57] JP: Right. But on iOS, it’s a real issue. Either Epic will back down and the 30% cut stays around and developers have definitely voiced their objections to that. We would also see Unreal Engine be off of the App Store. That would have a huge impact on the availability of future games on iOS. If Epic wins, it could be good for consumers. We could see Apple’s percentage cut go down. We could see a scenario where maybe third parties are allowed to side load applications on the iPhone. It could be a positive thing.
[00:08:31] SY: Yeah. There’s no way Apple is going to allow side loading.
[00:08:34] JP: Yeah. I also agree with that.
[00:08:36] SY: No way that’s going to happen.
[00:08:37] JP: I think everybody is thinking like, “There’s no way Apple’s going to do this.” So I think them threatening to ban Unreal Engine is they’re signaling, “We’re just not going to play around.”
[00:08:44] SY: Yeah. I mean, to me, that was a huge move of like, “Look, man, we don’t need you.” That’s what I heard from that. Like, “We’re Apple.” I think they’re still the most profitable company in the world. Is that still true?
[00:08:56] JP: Oh, there’s so much money.
[00:08:57] SY: So much money. I don’t think they really need Epic. Obviously, having good relationships is one of the most downloaded and popular games is always a good thing. But ultimately if it came down to Epic threatening their entire, well, not their entire, but their primary business model, at least within the App Store, like, I’m very sure Apple is ready to let that go. You know?
[00:09:17] JP: I wonder how many games on iOS are developed with Unreal Engine and…
[00:09:22] SY: That’s true.
[00:09:23: Where Fortnite might not be a huge deal, especially for Epic itself because Fortnite is available on every platform, no demand kind at this point. You could play Fortnite anywhere. Epic is not going to be hurting for revenue there. But if you saw a gradual reduction in the amount of new games coming out on iOS, that could impact Apple’s bottom line, because a lot of those games are free to play games with in-app purchases and that’s what really drives a lot of the revenue on the App Store.
[00:09:49] SY: That’s a really good point. Yeah. Yeah. I also want to touch on this 30% a bit because that’s such a place of contention for so many people, so many developers. People get really upset about 30%. And I find it really interesting because on the one hand, as a content creator myself, if I had to give up 30% of my revenue, I’d be very upset about that. That’s a lot of money. That’s a huge chunk. But when I compare it to how the rest of the world works, specifically in retail and physical goods, and I know Apple said this as well during their congressional hearings, we’re very comfortable with retailers taking 50% cuts on physical goods. And it’s just interesting to me that we’re perfectly fine with Walmart saying, “If you want to sell your goods in our store, then you have to give us 50% of your margin.” But we are very, very upset with Apple, basically doing the same thing by taking a 30% cut and I’m trying to figure out what does that feel because even though like logically it’s basically the same idea, it still feels different to me. It feels like, “Ah, but Apple shouldn’t do that. They should be okay with like a 10% cut.” How do I know where that comes from?
[00:11:00] JP: I think there might be a couple of things at play here. Number one, I have been noticing, for myself personally, I view physical and digital goods differently. Even though I’m stuck at home, a lot of things I buy now are digital, I fully support paying content creators for their work. I fully support paying artists and developers for the work they put in. When I buy something digitally, I am receiving a benefit, assuming a great movie or a piece of music or a great game and has real value to me. But yet, for some reason, in my lizard brain having a physical thing I can hold, like it has a different value to me. The other thing is with the comparison to physical stores. So flashback to the ’90s, you’re buying your CDs at BestBuy or they’re taking up a 50% cut, I’m totally dating myself, I think one of the differences is that on Android or with physical stores, you have other stores you could go to as a supplier. If you don’t like that 50% cut that Walmart wants to charge, you could go to a local store. You could open your own store. You can’t do that with Apple. It’s the Apple Store or it’s nothing.
[00:12:13] SY: Yeah. And I think that goes back to the question that a lot of folks have been asking over the years of like, “Is Apple a monopoly or not?” At least when it comes to the App Store, is it a monopoly? Ultimately, that’s for Congress to decide, but there’s definitely a lot of opinions on that. For sure, it definitely feels like if I don’t want to go to a Walmart, I can go to a Target. But when I think about the App Store, if I want an iPhone, I have to go through the App Store. There’s really no other way to do it. I guess PWA is a little bit different, right? Like I can go to a website, save a home screen and get my little version of an app. But if I want an official app, then yeah, it does have to come from the App Store.
[00:12:50] JP: Yeah. There’s a lot of limitations of what a PWA could do. I also don’t think I’ve ever paid for a PWA.
[00:12:56] SY: That’s a good point.
[00:12:57] JP: Right?
[00:12:57] SY: Right.
[00:12:58] JP: But there are definite benefits. I mean, not to push Apple’s point of view too much, but there are definite benefits to having a singular app store. You have a situation where all the apps are vetted. There are very few security concerns. My older family members, they all have iPhones. And a big part of that is because I don’t have to worry about them downloading malware or getting adware or ransomware, like I have to worry about other PCs.
[00:13:24] SY: Right. Exactly. Exactly. Absolutely.
[00:13:26] JP: I wanted to ask you, Saron. Why do you think Epic’s picking this fight now?
[00:13:30] SY: Yeah. I was thinking about that too, because even like that video they made wasn’t reactive, I think they clearly thought about this.
[00:13:39] JP: Right.
[00:13:39] SY: You know what I mean? Like they clearly plan this. It happened pretty much right away. It wasn’t like, “Oh, Apple! Oh, no, Apple banned us. Now let’s put together this video to retaliate.” You know what I mean? It just felt so planned.
[00:13:53] JP: They had a PR release strategy for their lawsuit.
[00:13:55] SY: Right. Exactly. And I don’t know why they’re making such a fuss now. My only guess is that maybe it’s connected to the congressional hearing. Maybe they think, “Oh, now that they’ve gotten some press, some heat, maybe this is an opportunity to kind of fight that 30% fee that we’ve been wanting to fight for a long time.” That’s the only connection I can really see.
[00:14:15] JP: I have to think it might be somehow tied to their own store. So on the PC and on Macs, Epic has their own game store. It’s called the Epic Game Store. It’s a competitor to Steam, which is by far the largest game store on the PC. On PCs and Macs, app stores are way different. You get your applications from anywhere. They also have an Epic Game Store on Android. And we talked about, you can side load things on Android. You could also side load an entire app store on an Android device. And so if you have the Epic Game Store on your Android device and you are a game publisher and you’re selling your app through Epic’s game store, that situation we talked about where you have a different game store you can go to with a much lower percentage. I wonder if they would love to have their Epic Game Store on the iPhone.
[00:15:06] SY: Interesting.
[00:15:07] JP: I wonder if that might be a potential angle they could be going after.
[00:15:08] SY: Very interesting.
[00:15:11] JP: You think about it. They published Unreal Engine. It’s not a huge stretch to think that they could just have some sort of way to streamline development of Unreal Engine games and pop them right into that Epic Game Store, and whoop, there it is. But right now iOS would be completely missing from that equation, total conjecture in my point.
[00:15:29] SY: I like that conjecture. That makes a lot of sense to me. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see where the lawsuit ends up.
[00:15:35] JP: I think we’ll be hearing about this one for quite a long time.
[00:15:37] SY: I think so, too.
[00:15:37] JP: This is not going to be a quick lawsuit.
[00:15:39] SY: It’s not going to away. Yeah. Yeah. Totally agree.
[00:15:59] SY: Heroku is a platform that enables developers to build, run, and operate applications entirely in the cloud. It streamlines development, allowing you to focus on your code, not your infrastructure. Also, you’re not locked into the service. So why not start building your apps today with Heroku?
[00:16:16] JP: Vonage is a cloud communications platform that allows developers to integrate voice, video, and messaging into their applications using their communication APIs. So whether you want to build video calls into your app, create a Facebook bot or build applications on top of programmable phone numbers, Vonage has you covered. Sign up for an account at developer.nexmo.com and use the promo code DEVTO10, that’s D-E-V-T-O-1-0, by October 10th for 10 euros of free credit.
[00:16:49] SY: So Twitter has launched a new API that it says is built on a whole new foundation and the first complete rebuilds since 2012. According to a post on Twitter’s blog, this API will be cleaner and easier to use for developers and it’ll contain even more features such as conversation threading, poll results in tweets, pinned tweets on profiles, spam filtering, and a more powerful stream filtering and search query language. So I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited and surprised about this new API because Twitter’s API history has been really shady since its inception.
[00:17:25] JP: That is pretty put nicely.
[00:17:27] SY: Yeah. Yeah. Because it started off like super open and everyone was like, “Oh, I’m going to build my own Twitter client to do all of the stuff at Twitter API.” And then slowly, they kind of started shutting it down and removing access and then it became pretty clear that they really didn’t want you to use their API. They were pretty against it. And then now, all of a sudden, they’re launching a new one. This is interesting news.
[00:17:50] JP: I remember those heady, golden days of third-party Twitter clients. It seemed like there was a new one every week. Then as they overhauled the API, one of the things they did was they added usage charges for the API. So if you wrote a third-party client and you had 50,000 people using it, you, as the developer, were charged for all those API accesses.
[00:18:11] SY: Wow!
[00:18:12] JP: That’s where you saw a lot of the third-party Twitter clients disappear.
[00:18:15] SY: Yeah. That is intense. What are some of the more successful ones that have stuck around? Tweetbot is one of them, right?
[00:18:21] JP: Tweetbot is one. Twitterrific is another one. Those are the two old guard ones that I know of that are still on MacOS and iOS.
[00:18:29] SY: And so for those, I’m assuming they’re paying for the API, which means that they’re paid products, right?
[00:18:34] JP: Correct. Those are both paid products. There was a time where both of those Twitter clients were limiting how many people could sign up or download them because they were trying to balance where their costs were versus how many people were using it. I think some of that has been somewhat restructured, but there’s still a huge gap in functionality for third-party Twitter clients.
[00:18:57] SY: Oh, like what?
[00:18:58] JP: Well, for example, notifications of direct messages, those happen instantaneously on Twitter for clients using the Twitter API, the older Twitter API. I think, there’s a time lag of like 5 to 10 minutes. The old Twitter API can’t participate in any of the newer features Twitter has added such as polls. Gift creation I think isn’t supported in the API. As Twitter has added features to their data and web clients, they have not added those features to the API.
[00:19:25] SY: Okay. So does that mean that for Tweetbot and Twitterrific and the folks who are still using the Twitter API and are kind of able to make that work, does that basically mean they’ll have to rebuild all their apps to work with the new API?
[00:19:39] JP: If they want to. So Twitter says that they’re keeping the old API around. The other thing that they said was that the new API is also going to have usage tiers. Now I was reading through this announcement and Twitter says that the free tier should be more than enough for most developers. We’ll see if that’s true or not. The reason I bring that up is because these higher tiers of usage are going to be paid as well. But Twitter hasn’t released what the cost of those are going to be or when they’re going to be released. They’re only releasing the free tier right now. So I took a look at some of the response from Twitter client developers on Twitter, so apropos, and they all say they’re pretty excited about these changes. They’re kind of waiting to see what the limitations are. Twitter also wasn’t very, very clear about what those exact limitations are. I think each Twitter client developer is going to have to experiment and see if they’re going to hit those ceilings in usage and then they’re also going to want to know what’s the cost to bump up before they make any big changes. But I detected a lot of tentative excitement from Twitter client developers.
[00:20:48] SY: Yeah. Cautiously optimistic I think is the place to be with this one because you want to take advantage of things like this, especially if you’re able to do poll and search query language. I mean, it just feels like there’s a lot of really good stuff that could build some really cool tech, even if it’s just a little side project. I feel like there’s a lot of potential here. But given Twitter’s history, you want to be cautious and kind of see if they’re going to be committed to really creating a developer ecosystem out of this or if this is going to be something that ends up getting shut down after a couple of years. So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
[00:21:22] JP: Yeah. I think if you read the announcement, they talk a lot about academic research and tools for researchers. I think they’re signposting that they want to see a lot of API development around news reporting and news and trend researching.
[00:21:38] SY: Right, which is great.
[00:21:38] JP: Yeah, it’s great. But I still don’t think they’re real cool on a lot of third-party Twitter clients.
[00:21:43] SY: Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah. We’ll see how they respond to the things people create.
[00:21:48] JP: Well, last week, we covered a significant restructuring of the Mozilla Corporation, which included a major round of layoffs, 250 positions were eliminated, one quarter of the 1,000-person company. The company is also reducing its investment in developer and internal tooling, as well as feature development of its Firefox browser. Instead, the internal memo explained, it will be pivoting to focus on new security and privacy products, as well as ongoing projects like WebAssembly Pocket and Hub.
[00:22:17] SY: Next, we chat with Ashley Williams and Steve Klabnik, Engineers on the Rust Core Team about how this move by Mozilla will affect the future of the Rust Programming Language.
SY: Heroku is a platform that enables developers to build, run, and operate applications entirely in the cloud. It streamlines development, allowing you to focus on your code, not your infrastructure. Also, you’re not locked into the service. So why not start building your apps today with Heroku?
[00:23:02] JP: Vonage is a cloud communications platform that allows developers to integrate voice, video, and messaging into their applications using their communication APIs. So whether you want to build video calls into your app, create a Facebook bot or build applications on top of programmable phone numbers, Vonage has you covered. Sign up for an account at developer.nexmo.com and use the promo code DEVTO10, that’s D-E-V-T-O-1-0, by October 10th for 10 euros of free credit.
[00:23:35] SY: Today, we’ve got Ashley Williams and Steve Klabnik, Engineers on the Rust Core Team. Thank you so much for being here.
[00:23:41] AW: Thanks so much for having us.
[00:23:43] SK: Yeah, glad to be here.
[00:23:44] SY: So Ashley, tell us a little bit about what Rust connection is to Mozilla and what that relationship has looked like since it was conceived in 2010.
[00:23:53] AW: The Rust Project was originally conceived as part of a research project at Mozilla. Mozilla has a research department. It was incubated there and it was largely intended to be a project where folks have been trying to rewrite some C++ in the Firefox browser for a long time. But then I [00:24:15] currency and it turned out that it was proving to be incredibly difficult. The point where Mozilla was like, “Hey, maybe we need a new tool.” So I feel like in such of way maybe we need a new tool. Right? So I feel like it’s such a bold choice to be like, “Yeah, let’s do a new programming language, but exciting,” right? It’s interesting because what the Rust language looked like back then versus what it looks like now is there are so many fascinating, different things that we went through. Yeah. So it started as a research project, fully owned by Mozilla. And then as it grew, it started forming some governance and contributors outside of Mozilla. So as it approached hitting its 1.0, which was 2015, it had really accumulated a fair amount of community support. So with the 1.0, we established project governance. From a business perspective, you could kind of think of it as like the product direction. All of that governance, like technical decisions, like how we organize, how we choose what to build, tooling, that all kind of moved outside independent of Mozilla. And Mozilla became what I usually refer to as our biggest sponsor. They continue to fund people working on Rust full-time, but many people working on Rust full-time also didn’t work at Mozilla. But kind of more importantly, Mozilla owned the Rust trademark and paid for things like hosting. And if we needed to like write up a policy or something, they had lawyers that we could say like, “Hey, could you help us?”
[00:25:55] SK: I guess it’s important to mention that the early sponsors of Rust inside of Mozilla had always intended for it to be broader than Mozilla, because like other than the Microsoft ecosystem and even that’s changed these days, like single vendor languages are just things that people don’t really trust and use really well. So they knew that if it was like Mozilla’s language, it would not succeed as much. So there was like, it was set up from the start to have a decent amount of separation from Mozilla in general and like that’s kind of always been there to some degree.
[00:26:25] JP: So given all the support that Mozilla was giving to Rust, and even though there was a little bit of separation there, there was a lot of fear and uncertainty in the Rust community about language’s future with the restructuring and the major layoffs that just happened at Mozilla. Can you paint us a picture of what that all kind of looked like internally from your perspective on the Rust Core team?
[00:28:39] JP: So it sounds like maybe the external view of these layoffs and restructurings happening at Mozilla are a fundamental seismic shift for the Rust team. It sounds like that’s not what your perspective was from the inside.
[00:28:54] AW: So I definitely think as far as just like the Rust Project’s stability, will it persist into the future, we’ve been set up to like weather a storm like this well for quite some time. I had a bit of a Twitter thread that kind of exploded on this. I feel like the hit is more is kind of an emotional one and about the state of the tech industry, which also has impacts on Rust. One of the most delightful things about Mozilla and particularly Mozilla’s involvement in Rust was they employed people to work on Rusk full-time and basically with no requirements. There’s no pressure to implement particular features, no particular like monetization scheme, and that’s really special. It’s really, really hard to find a position where you can have a full-time salary job and just show up and do the best work that you think is best for it without any influence from the company that happens to be paying you. And with Mozilla really dealing with some struggles around this, I think that the entire industry is feeling a bit of a loss of the like promise that that’s a model that works and Rust is definitely like worrying about that. I think there’s a fair number of companies that are excited to try and scoop up some Rust folks, but I think the character of that participation could change depending on where people land because there are just different types of influences. That’s kind of how I felt about the change, which is just like if you want to get paid to work on Rust full-time, one of the biggest options has disappeared now, with the potential implication that that type of model won’t work.
[00:30:43] SY: So I know that online it’s been mentioned that four people out of hundreds of people who were working on the Rust Core Team who actually worked directly for Mozilla, which kind of sounds a little reassuring in terms of the effect of the Rust community if it’s only four people. Obviously, even four people is unfortunate to have their jobs affected by it, but it is a relatively small amount of people. How has the restructuring of Mozilla affected the Rust community if it’s only been a handful of folks who’ve been directly impacted by it?
[00:31:15] AW: So the first thing I will say is at the end of 2018, I think it was, we had a milestone in the Rust Core Team where the percentage of folks on the core team that were employed by Mozilla went from more than half to less than half. In fact, significantly less than half. So when you hear this number four thrown around about folks on the Rust team, and I’ll dive into why that number is a little bit complicated in a second, we’re not actually speaking about folks from the Rust Core Team at all. These are not folks who are members of the Rust Core Team. The Rust Core Team was affected, but not in the way that that number would suggest. I don’t want to take away the sense of reassurance, the number of folks affected, Mozilla employees affected by these restructuring, and the scheme of the Rust community is small. The Rust community is incredibly large. We have a set of teams that have hundreds of folks in them, but a small number of those were employed by Mozilla and even smaller number of those were employed by Mozilla and their job at Mozilla was to work on Rust. I think one thing that a lot of folks don’t realize is that many folks employed at Mozilla were not necessarily working on Rust as their job or which is to say, like, they may have been writing Rust as their job, but it didn’t mean that their contribution was part of like what they were salaried to do at Mozilla. Instead they used Rust at their job and then contributed to Rust on their personal time, much like many people who use Rust at their job and then contribute in their personal time. So the number of folks employed at Mozilla who are working on Rust specifically is small, but there is like a larger set of Mozilla employees using Rust and contributing their personal time who are also affected.
[00:33:14] JP: So what does the future of Rust look like after this?
[00:33:20] AW: I’m so glad you asked. So on Tuesday, August 18th, which as of this recording was yesterday, there was an announcement that the Rust team made, which is with Mozilla’s help, we are going to be standing up a Rust foundation to kind of complete that journey of started at Mozilla, we’re to be governed independently, and now we want to shift over that legal entity from the Mozilla organization to a Rust independent organization. So we’ve actually been exploring and researching doing this for quite some time. It turns out that making a foundation is not an insignificant thing to take on, and like spending a lot of time like even at the end of last year, we had started doing a lot of investigations, talking with other types of foundations in similar spaces. So yeah, we’re excited obviously forming a fully functional, like as all the bells and whistles foundation by the end of the year would be an absolutely absurd thing for us. But yeah, we’re excited to, by the end of the year, have our own legal entity that can own those trademarks and kind of transition that legal dependence that we currently have on Mozilla to a place where we can be fully independent of each other.
[00:34:43] SY: So I totally get this idea of kind of wanting to separate Mozilla from Rust a little bit more and kind of create its own legal entity and do its own thing. I’m wondering, what are the effects that you’re hoping for? What impact do you hope that foundation has on the community?
[00:34:59] AW: Yeah. So what I will say is that a lot is yet to be decided and that is by design largely because it is very much the Rust way to do things openly and receive a lot of community feedback. So I think for the initial pass of the foundation, like what we really hope is that it’s clear that Rust is independent from Mozilla, but like practically, and I don’t think this affects much of the community, currently the Rust project struggles with like having to sign a contract. When you’re not your own legal entity, it turns out that like, “What name do we put? What address can we put?” That’s like hard and it would be great if that wasn’t hard. So this is the type of like problem that we’re really trying to solve. So I think for end contributors, the effects of this foundation, at least up to the end of the year, this kind of initial pass, it shouldn’t have a larger effect. What happens next is going to be a conversation between the folks working on this, like the Rust Core Team and the community.
[00:36:07] JP: Since we have you here, we’d love to hear about anything you have coming down the pipeline with Rust that you’re working on and are really excited about.
[00:36:14] SK: So like there’s a couple of different things that have been happening. Most of my stuff that I’ve been working on is more writing things in Rust than working on Rust as much. But one thing that I’m working on, on Rust that’s really important is a bit of policy. So we had this big release in 2018 called Rust 2018. That was an addition. And so that was three years after 1.0, so 2021 is three years since 2018. So I’ve been working with one of the other core team members, Niko, on like setting up policy around how that really should happen and all that kind of stuff, and we’ve been like working through the governance part of that. That’ll be kind of like a fun second time in Rust’s history, sort of big release kind of thing. So that’s what I’m currently excited about.
[00:36:56] JP: Thanks.
[00:36:57] AW: And just to clarify what Steve’s saying, these kind of epics that we’re talking about, we call additions. We actually originally thought about calling them epics, but I think additions are generally going to be this kind of three-year cadence that we have in the project. So I’m excited to see more formalization around that process happening.
[00:37:16] SY: So at the time of this recording, RustConf is happening tomorrow. How excited are you all for it?
[00:37:21] AW: I’m super excited. I think it’s going to be really fun.
[00:37:23] SK: Yeah.
[00:37:24] AW: It’s the first time we’re doing it, obviously in the times of Corona. So it’s fully online and there’s part of me that actually think that that’s almost going to make it more awesome because it’s significantly more accessible to our global audience. So I don’t know. I’m really excited to see how bringing us all together in an online space work.
[00:37:43] SK: Yeah, I think too that like the medium being a little different has allowed some of the speakers to do some things they would be able to do at a physical conference. I’ve had rumors of like costume changes and stuff. Because talks are prerecorded, you can like do stuff like that, that like wouldn’t necessarily be the case. So I think that’s also fun.
[00:38:01] AW: I’m one of the speakers for the Core Team Keynote and now I’m realizing that perhaps we weren’t nearly as creative as we should.
[00:38:08] JP: There’s still time.
[00:38:09] AW: Is there? No. No. We had to submit that recording for John.
[00:38:16] SY: Well, thank you so much, Ashley and Steve, for joining us.
[00:38:18] JP: Thank you.
[00:38:19] AW: Yeah. Of course. Thanks for having us.
[00:38:20] SK: Thanks for having us on.
[00:38:32] SY: Thank you for listening to DevNews. This show is produced and mixed by Levi Sharpe. Editorial oversight by Vaidehi Joshi, Peter Frank, Ben Halpern, and Jess Lee. Our theme music is by Dan Powell. If you have any questions or comments, dial into our Google Voice at +1 (929) 500-1513. Or email us at [email protected] Please rate and subscribe to this show on Apple Podcasts.