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Maintainer spotlight: Chrissy LeMaire
We’re sharing interviews from several open source contributors about their projects, challenges, and what a GitHub sponsorship means to them. This week, hear from Chrissy LeMaire.
With the launch of GitHub Sponsors, open source maintainers and developers can apply to receive funding from the community that depends on their work. Through sponsorship, open source maintainers have the freedom, financial security, and autonomy to continue the work they’re passionate about to further build and strengthen the open source community.
Over the next few weeks, we’re sharing the stories of several open source contributors. Learn about their projects, challenges, and what sponsorship means to them.
My name is Chrissy LeMaire. I was born and raised in Louisiana, and I’m super Cajun. I now live in Belgium and work as an Automation Engineer. I’m a self-taught developer and recently earned a Masters in Systems Engineering. The day I graduated, I also got a book deal with my favorite technical publisher, Manning Publications. “dbatools in a Month of Lunches” will be available early next year.
I’ve been involved in open source since I was a teenager back in the late 90s. My first open source project was a procmail-based script that helped combat spam. I remember the day it was first published to freshmeat.net—I was overjoyed. Since then I’ve dreamed of having my own large and successful open source project.
The primary project I maintain is dbatools, a PowerShell module that helps automate Microsoft’s SQL Server platform. Microsoft’s own SQL Server module never really matured, so for years, it was on the community to develop PowerShell instead of using it. That made a lot of SQL Server professionals view PowerShell as not being worth the investment. dbatools changed this by simplifying PowerShell for the SQL Server community. Now, you can do something as massive as an instance-to-instance migration with one line of code.
I also maintain dbachecks with Rob Sewell. dbachecks allows the data platform community to crowd-source and automate our daily, weekly, or monthly checklists using Pester tests. I’ve wanted something like dbachecks during my entire dba career, and it’s a great relief to finally have it.
I started dbatools because I needed the functionality for my job. I was tasked with migrating a SQL Server instance that had a large number of databases, and I didn’t want to script out the entire migration as a one-off. This led to my decision to automate the process with PowerShell. Since there weren’t any solutions available at the time, I made my own.
I was surprised by how easy migrations became and realized that this project presented a great opportunity to show PowerShell’s value to the SQL Server community.
I think open source still has a few reputation issues. Community members may be hesitant about it because they’ve heard that it’s exclusive and toxic, while corporations may be hesitant because projects aren’t backed by other corporations that can be held accountable.
Since the beginning, it’s been a goal of mine to ensure that our open source software projects are inclusive and supportive. The SQL Server and PowerShell communities have been on board from the start, and we’ve all helped make others feel welcomed. I’m especially proud that the dbatools community has helped get a lot of people involved with GitHub and open source. Many community contributors have used dbatools as a springboard for their own projects, and we couldn’t be happier.
As for corporations, I’ve worked to improve the adoption of PowerShell and open source by providing our community with a step-by-step guide on the validity of dbatools deployments within security-focused organizations. And now, many corporations use dbatools.
Professionally speaking, dbatools has changed my life. It prompted me to begin speaking publicly because I needed to let people know about this super cool PowerShell project that could help them save countless hours of tedious work. Since then, I’ve been given awards by conferences, my employer, and Microsoft as a dual MVP.
dbatools has also had a positive impact on me, personally. As an expat living in a foreign country, the friends I’ve made while maintaining, developing, and speaking about dbatools have helped me feel less isolated.
Our project is pretty large and has thousands of IO-intensive tests that run against live SQL Servers with each commit.
We will always need an Appveyor subscription with 10 threads to keep our wait times reasonable. This costs a couple thousand dollars per year. Last year, DataMasterMinds kindly stepped up and paid for our subscription, but this is an annual donation that must be considered each year.
I don’t expect sponsorships to support my work full time, but they can certainly enhance my life as an enthusiastic developer.
There are some things that come with the project that cost money. In addition to our Appveyor fees, I also maintain a homelab that supports a wide variety of SQL Server and Windows versions. This helps ensure that dbatools continues to support older environments. While I can cover services like web hosting, it would be nice to get help with the new server I buy each year to sustain such a varied and complete environment.
More importantly, I’d love help with getting an electric standing desk. About 10 years ago, I suffered a severe repetitive stress injury that could only be fixed with major surgery. I thought I’d never be able to program again and even started preparing for life as a technical trainer. Fortunately, my condition is now stable enough, and I can continue to program. Still, it’s a daily battle to ensure that my shoulders don’t break again. A high-quality electric standing desk will help me maintain back health for years to come.
The great thing about GitHub Sponsors is that it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference.
If dbatools has ever saved you time, either through our migration commands or easing SQL Server automation in general, please consider sponsoring me for a few dollars a month.
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Check back soon—we’ll be adding new interviews every week. Contact us If you have ideas about how GitHub Sponsors can better serve the open source community.