antirez 3437 days ago. 269460 views.
Today Redis is six years old. This is an incredible accomplishment for me, because in the past I switched to the next thing much faster. There are things that lasted six years in my past, but not like Redis, where after so much time, I still focus most of my everyday energies into.

How did I stopped doing new things to focus into an unique effort, drastically monopolizing my professional life? It was a too big sacrifice to do, for an human being with a limited life span. Fortunately I simply never did this, I never stopped doing new things.

If I look back at those 6 years, it was an endless stream of side projects, sometimes related to Redis, sometimes not.

1) Load81, children programming environment.
2) Dump1090, software defined radio ADS-B decoder.
3) A Javascript ray tracer.
4) lua-cmsgpack, C implementation of msgpack for Lua.
5) linenoise line editing library. Used in Redis, but well, was not our top priority.
6) lamernews, Redis-based HN clone.
7) Gitan, a small Git web interface.
8) shapeme, images evolver using simulated annealing.
9) Disque, a distributed queue (work in progress right now).

And there are much more throw-away projects not listed here.
The interesting thing is that many of the projects listed above are not random hacking efforts that had as an unique goal to make me happy. A few found their way into other people’s code.

Because of the side projects, I was able to do different things when I was stressed and impoverished from doing again and again the same thing. I could later refocus on Redis, and find again the right motivations to have fun with it, because small projects are cool, but to work for years at a single project can provide more value for others in the long run.

So currently I’m using something like 20% of my time to hack on Disque, a distributed message queue. So only 80% is left for Redis development, right? Wrong. The deal is between 80% of focus on Redis and 20% on something else, or 0% of focus on Redis in the long term, because in order to have a long term engagement, you need a long term alternative to explore new things.

Side projects are the projects making your bigger projects possible. Moreover they are often the start of new interesting projects. Redis itself was a side project of LLOOGG. Sometimes you stop working at your main project because of side projects, but when this happens it is not because your side project captured your focus, it is because you managed to find a better use for your time, since the side project is more important, interesting, and compelling than the main project.

Redis is six years old today, but is aging well: it continues to capture the attention of more developers, and it continues to improve in order to provide a bit more value to users every week. However for me, more users, more pull requests, and more pressure, does not mean to change my setup. What Redis is today is the sum of the work we put into it, and the endurance in the course of six years. To continue along the same path, I’ll make sure to have a few side projects for the next years.

UPDATE: Damian Janowski provided an incredible present for the Redis community today, the renewed Redis.io web site is online now! http://redis.io. Thanks Damian!

HN comments here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9112250
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