Since July 2005, when Django was open-sourced, Jacob Kaplan-Moss and I have been the two Benevolent Dictators For Life (BDFLs) of the project. Today we’re both retiring from our formal BDFL roles, given that (1) we don’t have the time for it that we once had and (2) Django is in great shape with a vibrant community of contributors.
A BDFL, a term originally used by Python creator Guido van Rossum, is basically a leader of an open-source project who resolves disputes and has final say on big decisions.
In the early days, circa 2004-2008, Jacob and I had to make a fair amount of decisions, and we spent a ton of time promoting the framework, fixing bugs and adding features. Over the last few years, the codebase has stabilized tremendously and many fantastic developers from around the globe have joined the effort, contributing code, writing documentation, helping with process (bug triage, managing releases), publishing books/tutorials, holding conferences and organizing user groups. It’s an incredibly healthy, friendly and diverse open-source project/community!
At the same time, I’ve gotten a development “life” outside of Django. In the old days, I’d spend basically all of my free time improving Django — I considered it my baby, and it would be entirely fair to call it an obsession. Then, in 2007, I founded EveryBlock and found myself with a new baby, a young Internet company.
For the last year, I’ve been building Soundslice, a modern approach to sheet music and guitar tabs that I’ve wanted to exist for a long time. Soundslice has become the thing that I’m constantly thinking about and writing code for, from morning into late hours of the night. (And I’m very comfortable with that. I’ve always seen Django as a means to an end — building great web products. I’m skeptical of anybody who builds frameworks for the sake of building frameworks.)
So, given that I can’t give Django the time that it deserves, it wouldn’t be fair to continue as BDFL. At best, it’d be phony for me to keep calling myself that; at worst, it’d be doing a disservice to the framework by slowing down our decisionmaking processes and setting a tone of complacency.
If you’re a Django user, though, have no fear. Honestly, this title seems like a big change “on paper,” but in reality it won’t change much. I haven’t been deeply involved in day-to-day development of Django in quite a while, and I think Jacob would say the same thing — so, if anything, this change in titles just makes official what had already been happening. I suspect nothing major will change in the Django community, except maybe some committers will feel emboldened to build great new stuff. (But please, no more Django Pony. It’s stupid.)
I’ll still continue to contribute to Django as I find things that it doesn’t do that I want it to do. And of course I continue to use it in building web apps. It’s been a fun ride as co-BDFL, and I’m looking forward to Django’s next chapter.
UPDATE: Here’s Jacob’s post about it.