One of the most nerve-wracking periods when releasing the first version of an open source project occurs when the IRC channel is created. You are all alone, eagerly hoping and wishing for the first user to come along. I still vividly remember those days.
One of the first users that jumped on IRC was Clint, and how excited was I. Well… for a brief period, until I found out that Clint was actually a Perl user, no less working on a website that dealt with obituaries. I remember asking myself why couldn’t we get someone from a more "hyped" community, like Ruby or Python (at the time), and a slightly nicer use case.
How wrong I was. Clint ended up being instrumental to the success of Elasticsearch. He was the first user to roll out Elasticsearch into production (version 0.4 no less!), and the interaction with Clint was pivotal during the early days in shaping Elasticsearch into what it is today. Clint has a unique insight into what is simple, and he is very rarely wrong, which has a huge impact on various usability aspects of Elasticsearch, from management, to API design, to day-to-day usability features. It was a no brainer for us to reach out to Clint and ask if he would join our company immediately after we formed it.
Another one of the first things we did when we formed the company was offer public training. It’s hard to express how nervous we were about whether or not people would even sign up for it.
We were wrong.
The trainings were and still are a rave success with waiting lists in all major cities. One of the people who caught our eye was a young fellow, Zach, who came to one of our trainings. We knew about Zach from his blog posts about using Elasticsearch (and secretly envied his ability to explain complex concepts in a very simple manner) and from a PHP client he wrote for the software. What we found out was that Zach had actually paid to attend the Elasticsearch training out of his own pocket! You can’t really ask for more than that, and we reached out to Zach and asked if he would join our company as well.
Both Clint and Zach are pivotal to the success of Elasticsearch. They are wonderful communicators who can explain Elasticsearch from its high-level simplicity, to its (and Apache Lucene’s) low-level internal complexities. It’s a unique skill that we dearly cherish here at Elasticsearch. Clint is also responsible for the Elasticsearch Perl client, while Zach is responsible for the PHP one - both wonderful pieces of code.
And last, both play an instrumental role in most of what happens daily with the Elasticsearch project itself. One of the main reasons why Elasticsearch is so popular is its ability to communicate empathy to its users, and Clint and Zach are both part of the group that makes this a reality.