D-7 <altijd in beweging>

Day to day life of a Perl/Go/C/C++/whatever hacker. May include anything from tech, food, and family.


This is a meta-entry about the effort that Gabor Szabo is pushing for right now (grant request, blog entry). I'm writing on my blog because for the life of me blogs.perl.com doesn't accept my OpenID login, and somehow my MT account there was suspended. WTF. 


I'm the head director of Japan Perl Association (JPA), which is kind of similar to What Gabor is proposing, but not quite. I thought this story on how JPA came to be, things we had to do, and other considerations will shed some new light into the conversation.

Without further ado here goes:


JPA originally came about when during a dinner after YAPC::Asia Tokyo 2008, I (Daisuke Maki a.k.a. lestrrat) blurted out "Hosting YAPC without a real organization sucks, let's make one!"

Of course, when you speak up, you get to do it. So Emmerson Mills and I started planning and executing the efforts to bring this organization to reality.

There was much that the Japanese Perl community could benefit from such and organization, but we had find the right raison d'etre, so that we could bring in enough people and organizations to the new entity.


Well, actually the mission statement is on JPA site, but that's kind of a general, beautified-for-people-that-only-came-to-glance-at-it type of statement.

What this organization really aims for is to create an environment / atmosphere where corporations can hire more Perl engineers (easily). Basically, we want to convey this message:

 "Look (you corporations, employers), Perl is a serious language, and you can get stuff done with it. You also don't have to worry about legacy code, because we will make sure there are more Perl programmers"

That statement alone would just be some random guy saying that for the heck of it. We were going to either prove that the above was true, or make an effort to make those things happen.

So to be more convincing, we narrowed that what would be our goals:

(1) We need more exposure about the fact that serious companies uses Perl. A lot of people -- especially those that are learning about Perl -- still think that Perl is a CGI-ish, Web-ish language. Sure sure, we can use it for the Web, but we can also use it for tons of other things. And we need to tell them that there's evidence for it (i.e. that there are companies using it).

(2) We need to reach out to the (relatively) non-geeks and newbies. Let's face it: if you're a geek, you don't need our help. You know what's good for you, and you will probably pick up the right tool/language for the job in hand. Instead, we need to reach out for those people who are just learning about, or are just using Perl to get some daily duties done. We need to tell them that some stories are just FUD, or plain outdated. We need to tell them how to be lazy and productive with the language.

(3) We need a "local" voice. Just translating news, delivering maybe not all, but at least selected news about the language development and such, so that people who don't actively follow foreign tech news hear about what's going on.

(4) ... and finally. We need to have Perl look "official". Official in a sense that it's not just a handful of hackers doing what they want, when they want, how they want. Hey, I know how OSS goes, so I know that part of that statement will always be true, but the important thing here is how the general audience *perceives* Perl is.

For somebody with minimal technological background, having an official backer takes away a lot of uncertainty and doubt about our beloved tool. 

So then we knew who our target audience was: Corporations and non-hackers of Perl (people who just started, people who only use it because it's part of their job, or people who don't currently use Perl). 

Back in winter of 2008, I don't think I could articulate these messages, but still, I believe the gist of the above goals were there already. So based on that, we started on the next mission: $money


After going back and forth between doing an NPO and a real company or some other choice, we decided to form a 社団法人 (probably called an "incorporated association" in English, but I'm not sure). I don't know how that translates in other countries, but it's somewhere between a company-for-profit and an NPO. 

An NPO in Japan can, but is limited in ways to, make a profit. Also, an NPO is eligible for some tax breaks but in general requires a LOT more paperwork that must be made public. The reasoning for this is that (1) an NPO is something for the general public, so you need to let everybody know what you're doing, and (2) if you get tax breaks, you're using other taxpayer's money, and therefore you need to let everybody know what you're doing (duh). That's a big blocker for us, because we don't have enough man power. More on that later.

On the other hand with a company-for-profit you're allowed to do what you want. It's a self-governing entity, so you can make your own decisions, do whatever you want --within the general rules of the law. However, a company-for-profit's entire reason to exist is to grow. After all, we just want a better environment for Perl. We're not trying to rule the world or anything. So this wasn't a great choice either.

That lead us to 社団法人. You get to be a self governing entity, you can make a profit, and you don't have to aim to be the next Microsoft or anything.

Having made the choice about the structure of the organization, the rest pretty much came as a no brainer.

JPA asks companies for some subscription fee to be a member. We calculated that, to keep hosting YAPC::Asia and our organization, we needed somewhere along USD 30K ~ USD 50K per year, so we used that estimate to calculate back how much we ask for companies. We currently have about 20 members. Some members pay more than the other, etc. You do the math.

Since our organization isn't a company-for-profit, we don't have the basic stated capital to base our initial activities on. So we decided to create a way to accept funds from our members. If you didn't know, fund in this context is sort of a loan without interest. JPA cannot, unless we somehow royally f*cked it up, keep the money as profit -- we must pay back when we can. So we worked with Mixi (one of the major SNS providers in Japan) to give us a base fund of USD 10K. JPA will not use that money actively, but instead we will keep it as a buffer so that our balance doesn't go negative.

That only covers the initial cost. We need to keep this organization running, so we need to have revenue coming in. Unfortunately for the time being we must rely on subscription fee for the bulk of the costs, but we have... yes, YAPC::Asia Tokyo! YAPC used to be a completely non-profit activity, but we're trying to generate somewhere around USD 5K to USD 10K per yea from it. Don't worry, we're not trying to sell you stuff (we learned our lesson form last year ;). We'll just simply cut costs where we can, and make the event a bit more attractive for non-hard-core Perl people, which should translated to more ticket sales. Anyway, that's a different story. Just saying that we do plan to make some money out of YAPC.

Also, we teach courses and charge people for it. This particular business hasn't really taken off, but then again we can't really keep it up if we had offers to teach courses every week. We all have day jobs. It would be nice if we can do this maybe once per month in the future -- that would give us room to grow.

BTW, when we incorporated JPA in the winter of 2008, I personally put in about USD 10K (of which JPA refunded about USD 5K) for this preparation. This is not to brag about it, but to state the fact that, damn it, you need money to make these sort of things become a reality. Dreams without a financial plan is like a building without a ground to stand on. I hate it, but it's a necessity.


Anyway, so we planned those things out, I talked to a bunch of Japanese Perl Hackers, got in fights, I talked to more corporations, did a lot of legal munbo-jumbo... and there it was, Dec 26, 2008, JPA was born.

We waited until April 2009 (which is when most Japanese companies start their fiscal year) to "officially" announce the creation of JPA. We had a press conference, and made sure at least some people heard of us. I've been to many PM group meetings north and south of Japan, we held conferences, we started some online papers to market Perl, got involved with legal stuff when we needed to... etc. 

I believe currently we're still in "let our presence be known"-state. So I travel around Japan, telling people that JPA exists, and that Perl dying is a FUD. I believe these efforts are gradually paying off.

As for staff, we have 5 directors. Most daily chores are divided up between these directors. We currently don't have any paid staff. Accounting is managed by my real-life partner (I really want to compensate her for her great job, but I sweet talk to her instead of paying her for now). I don't think we can have a paid staff until our yearly revenue reaches somewhere around USD 100K -- but we still have long way to go.

We have YAPC::Asia Tokyo 2010 coming up this October. Our budget's on track, and we should make a slight profit this year. Oh, last year we had a completely dried out balance and the end of the fiscal year (the funds were safe -- I was really glad we decided to have that fund thing).


This blog. I initially started writing about JPA in English to compare with Gabor's ideas, but this turned out to be a massive summary, which I really should write in Japanese as well. Japanese readers, yes it's coming. please hold

I personally hate to be the head honcho, as I'd rather be an unknown who do the dirty deeds behind the scenes, but I believe for the past year and half, JPA has been successful so far. There are a lot more things we should do, but just like any other non-$dayjob activity, I believe that doing what you can now, and gradually keep moving forward is the answer for long term success. 

However, I do believe that an actual fiscal plan,  clear targets, goals, and separation of concerns (i.e. we're not doing anything that TPF would do -- we focus on Japanese corporations and engineers) are required to make an organization like this active and successful.

Hope this story wasn't too boring. Happy Marketing Perl!
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  • 2010年度マニフェスト的なものを書かないといけないかなぁ。
  • JPAの日常業務をボランティアで手伝ってもらえる人を募集したい。メールへの反応、YAPC準備、研修準備。毎回お願いしてると結局俺がボトルネックになるので、ボランティアチームがいたらすごい嬉しい。特にYAPCは俺は前線に*出てはいけない*。YAPCで目立ちたい!人が前線に出るべき。LLにならってブレストをやったら人来るかな?
  • JPA PressがGoogle 検索に表れないので、どうにかする必要あり。この間のヤツからAdobeなんちゃらに文字データを入れ込んだはずなんだけど、検索にでてこないんだよな。どうすればいいの?
  • TPF本家ともっと緊密に行動する。特にGrantは使えると思う。ドキュメンテーション回りを特にどうにかしたい。


  • 希望: どこかの大学・専門学校でPerlを教えているところと連携。ツテがあまりありませんので、連絡してもらえると嬉しい。
  • 希望: 全然声を掛けてないけど、なんらかの枠でDBI/Devel::NYTProfの作者のTim Bunce氏をYAPCに呼べたらなーと思ってるんだけど、ぶっちゃけ予算がありません。旅費をスポンサーしてもいいという企業・個人の方はいませんか。
  • 希望: 北海道・東北エリアでの Perl Mongerグループの創設。MLとかそういうのは別口でやってもらうにしても、PMのページをJPAで持つのはありかなぁ。
  • 希望: JPA会員だよ!ってな感じのブログパーツを作成したい。これもぶっちゃけ今は予算がないので、できればボランティアでお願いしたい。
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JPA #02用「Moose入門」スライドを書いた。長かった・・・。

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5/14 18:30からセミナー、9時前くらいに体が空く予定です。まだ空きがあるっぽいので、未登録な方は是非参加ください。かなりお値打ちなセミナーになるはずです :)

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内容は#01でお話したJay Shirley氏のCatalyst Talkと、私の「Moose入門」を予定しています。Moose入門に関しては、JPAが提供する有料セミナーのひとつとして捉えている内容のセミナーなのですが、今回は特別プレビューということで早送りバージョン(本来なら4時間を超える内容をかいつまんで話すので、「早送り」)を話させていただきます。

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さて、先日はJPA #01にお越しの皆様、大変ありがとうございました。講演資料や動画はWikiに後日準備が出来次第公開しようと考えています。スライドのほうは多分今日中になんとかできるのではないかな、と思っております。

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5/14 18:00 から JPA セミナー #02 in 大阪(梅田)を計画中です。内容はJay Shirleyさんのセミナー#01 での内容のうち一本と、多分もう一本自分か他の誰かに話してもらう予定です。

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JPAセミナー #01 の申し込みを開始しております。参加お待ちしております!
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地方在住の方に関してはJapan Perl Associationは最初から地方での活動を視野に入れて団体を作った、というのは断言しておきます。ちゃんとこれから東京以外の地域でも活動はしていく予定です。










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Japan Perl Associationセミナー#1 を4/21に開催します。


秋葉原UDXでCatalystを使い倒す話とMoose等の最新ベストプラクティスに関しての話になる予定で、講師はJay Shirley氏です。日本ではまだあまり名前が売れてないかもしれないですが、トップレベルの技術者で、CatalystやDBIx::Classなどを現場でどう生かすのかというノウハウについては絶大なるものを持っています。また、最近ではMatt Trout氏らとEnlightened Perl Origanisation (EPO)という、エンタープライズ分野でPerlを使うためのノウハウやサポートの提供を行う団体を立ち上げています(EPOはThe Perl FoundationなどよりもJPAにかぶるかもしれませんね)。

内容的にはJay Shirley氏のこれまでのWebアプリケーション等の開発から、Catalyst, Moose, DBIx::Classなどをどう効率的に、速く、フレキシブルに開発に使うのかを話していただく予定です。現場でこれらを使っていない方も、どのような設計方針で開発を進めているのかという点や、2009年現在現場の第一線でPerlを書くというのはどういうことなのかを知るのにはとても貴重な体験になること請け合いです。




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