John Leider, creator of Vuetify, may have figured out the secret to a good work-life balance: make your hobby your job, and hire your wife to work with you.
It wasn’t always like that, though. Back when he first started working on web development, he drove an hour to and from work every day, then ate dinner with his family, kissed them goodnight, and spent the evening working on Vuetify, a material design component framework for Vue.
“Before, when I was gone all the time, [work-life balance] was a much bigger issue because we never really saw each other,” John said. “But now that I work from home, we see each other more.”
From the military to software development
John joined the military in 2007. When he got out in 2013, he went to school to study computers.
“Initially it was going to be actual software development, like creating games and stuff,” John said. But in 2014 he started moving closer to web development when a group of friends from school hired him as a developer for their company, Furry Logic. He spent a year at Furry Logic before moving on to Fast Forward Academy.
It was while working at Fast Forward Academy that John started creating Vuetify. It began as a prototyping tool, John said. He didn’t know of any other frameworks that did what he wanted, so he thought he could either add on to something else and become a maintainer, or create something new.
“My boss said I was really good at using tools, but not creating things from scratch,” John said. “So I said, ‘OK, challenge accepted.’”
Releasing Vuetify into the world
This was October 2016. John found another framework called Vue Material that he thought was “pretty good,” but he liked his project better. One of his coworkers, Sean, took a look at Vuetify and liked it.
“He convinced me to release it out in the world,” John said.
He released Vuetify in December 2016 and it got a lot of traffic at first, then died down. Over time, though, traffic picked up and he started wondering if he should open up some sort of crowdfunding resource.
“As a newbie into programming and especially as a newbie in open source software, I wasn’t really comfortable with accepting money for something that was supposed to be free,” John said.
But eventually he decided to open a Patreon. He was spending so much time on Vuetify he barely saw his family, so in October 2017, he decided to quit his day job and work on Vuetify full time.
Working on the project full time
While his work-life balance these days means he gets to spend more time with his family, it doesn’t mean he works any less–“probably a little more so now,” John said.
In order to pay for things, John and a small team of developers work with clients who use Vuetify specifically. What he’d like to figure out, though, is how to spend less time on client work and more time working on Vuetify.
“You really learn a lot when you work with companies,” John said. “Maybe immediately it only affects that one person, but over time it helps more [people].”
What he’d really love is to continue growing Vuetify into a small business to provide better support and a rich ecosystem around Vue/Vuetify. He’s extremely excited he can offer the developers helping with client work full medical benefits and IRA.
Why John signed on to support Vuetify through Tidelift
Having more time to make Vuetify better and being able to support the developers working with him are some of the main reasons John signed on with Tidelift to offer professional support for Vuetify.
“I hope that this is a business model that companies find efficient and needed, but [that they] also [see it] as a way to give back to open source,” John said. “Most people that donate to me do so because they use Vuetify in their stack, [and] it’s helping their business in some way, shape, or form. They don’t need to hire a frontend developers because the backend developers can just take the elements and put them where they go.”
Plus, he said, he can’t imagine he’d get any tasks as a Tidelift maintainer he hasn’t already had to deal with. When he first released Vuetify, the community around the project was small and he’d try to jump up and immediately fix any bugs. These days, he has to put blinders on sometimes just to get any work done.
But he loves seeing the awesome things people have created with Vuetify, and one of the best feelings, John said, is when “people come in and say, ‘Hey, you made my life that easy.’”
If you’re interested in supporting John’s work on Vuetify and getting security, maintenance, and licensing assurances for Vuetify and other open source projects you already use, check out the Tidelift Subscription.