Community post from the German Cloud Native Glossary team: Noah Ispas, David Wagner, and Baris

The Cloud Native Glossary is a project led by the CNCF Business Value Subcommittee. Its goal is to explain cloud native concepts in clear and simple language without requiring any previous technical knowledge. We are in the process of localizing the English version of the Glossary into as many languages as possible. This week we focus on German and the team that localized the Glossary for German speakers! 

About German and the German Glossary

German, a West Germanic language, is the official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Italian province of South Tyrol, and a recognized national language in Namibia. (Fun fact: English is also a West Germanic language, along with Dutch, Yiddish, and Afrikaans, among others). 

Although there are about 130 million German speakers worldwide, German speaking technologists tend to rely on English technical content. That is also reflected in the number of contributors who join German localization efforts and the general acceptance of German localization. However, localizing technical content is still incredibly important because, while most German-speaking technologists have no problem understanding English content, it isn’t the case for everyone (more to that below). 

Our team has had a few contributors over the past 6-8 months, but three contribute consistently. While that means that progress is slow, we’ve been able to advance slowly but consistently and are proud of our progress so far. 

Why do you think localizing the Glossary in German is important?

Cloud native is hard! Some concepts are hard to understand, even for seasoned technologists. Now imagine how difficult it must be for non-technical folks. Yet, decision-makers (who rarely have a technical background) must understand these concepts well to make informed decisions, i.e., whether to approve your next cloud native project.  

Even though German professionals regularly read English content, doing so in a foreign language adds additional friction. Definitions in your native language are just much easier to grasp. This is especially important since Germany is still lagging behind in cloud native adoption compared to countries like the US. 

Admittedly, in the German-speaking world, English has become the lingua franca of IT, and most technologists have accepted that fact. That may also be why German speakers mostly use English technical words instead of translating them into German. Despite all that, a German Cloud Native Glossary will make cloud native more inclusive in our region. 

Meet the German Glossary team

Noah, a passionate creator, has made it his mission to inspire and help others to do what they love and do best. A technologist for most of his career, Noah shifted to helping teams and organizations on their cloud-native journey a few years ago. Today, Noah helps build cloud native foundations, provides training, and acts as a coach, connecting the dots and creating environments where technology and culture coexist harmoniously. He’s also an active Kubernetes contributor and one of the CNCF Cloud Native Glossary maintainers.

David is an enthusiastic cloud engineer with core competencies in Kubernetes and cloud platforms such as Azure and AWS — his focus over the past three years. But David is also passionate about backend development, which is how he started his technical career. He strongly believes in a holistic approach, emphasizing not only technical aspects but also corporate culture. Passionate about contributing and engaging in the open source community, David joined the German localization team about a year ago. 

Over the past ten years, Baris, a software engineer, has been developing and architecting enterprise software applications in highly regulated environments, such as the financial industry. He’s passionate about implementing things that create real value. And to do so, he consults, trains, and supports customers. His expertise includes Kubernetes and cloud native in general and automated software delivery with CI/CD. An avid open source user, Baris wants to give back to the community, and contributing to the Glossary is a great way to do so. 

Why did you decide to localize the glossary? Why is it important to you?

Most developers today use open source in one way or another, a big chunk of them even daily. We are no different and have always admired those who invest their time developing useful applications, tools, and content for the general public. This work is essential for developers, the whole community, and beyond. That’s why we felt compelled to join the contributor community and do our part. Everyone on our team is passionate about cloud native and decided to become active members of the CNCF community. The Glossary localization is a perfect entry point. It’s also really fascinating because you always learn something new. Even if you thought you knew a term well, by focusing on one definition specifically, you start noticing things you didn’t consider previously. Overall, it has been a great learning experience for all of us. 

How has the experience been? 

Our experiences vary. For some of us, the Glossary has been the first open source project we contributed to, while others have already contributed to other projects. 

When you are new to an open source project and eager to contribute, you need to invest time to familiarize yourself with everything. Finding that time is the first challenge, especially when contributing is not part of your job, and you do it in your spare time. Another challenge is attracting and keeping contributors who contribute consistently. We’ve seen many people who are initially super enthusiastic and motivated but then either never contribute or disappear after only a few contributions. While that is certainly the case for most open source projects, we are struggling a bit with that aspect. And that’s a shame, because there is a lot to learn from contributing to any project. Collaborating with people from various backgrounds and organizations to achieve a common goal is rewarding and fun! So, come join us if this sounds interesting and you are a German speaker!  

Any lessons learned you’d like to share with the community?

Like with almost everything that creates value for yourself and others, you need to be passionate and disciplined. Regular small contributions are more valuable than occasional big ones. Showing up, expressing opinions, and a sense of belonging keep a community alive. 

As mentioned above, finding time to contribute is hard, especially when work is busy. Some of us have started to block time on our calendars to dedicate to the Glossary. While some forward-thinking employers support these efforts and encourage employees to participate during work hours, those employers are still rare. But if they do, it reflects really well on the company, so we hope to see more employer support in the future. 

How and why should others contribute

People in tech should contribute to open source communities for many reasons. First of all, it’s fun to engage with like-minded peers. Second, it has some real benefits for your career. You can deepen your coding skills or knowledge in specific areas. But you also build a reputation and network of professionals, some of whom might help you reach the next step in your career. 

That’s all great, but there is something bigger here. Contributing to open source allows you to be part of something bigger. You work for a higher purpose than your or your company’s goals, and you can help shape the future of the project you are contributing to. 

Take the Glossary. Contributing to the Glossary is a unique opportunity to get involved in the CNCF community. And you can join without having to code or use complex technologies. Of course, you do need a deep understanding of cloud native. However, if your knowledge isn’t deep enough, you can team up with someone who does. It’s your chance to build up your knowledge and enhance your career and make cloud native more accessible to all kinds of people. Isn’t this an awesome opportunity? Yes? What are you waiting for? 

Anything else you’d like us to call out?

Open source communities thrive on their contributors. Without contributors spending their precious (often unpaid) time, most projects wouldn’t be as feature-rich as they are today. Remember, the entire internet runs Linux servers developed by the open source community! And many programming languages and tools you use daily are either open source or based on it. Today, software engineers simply cannot get around open source. 

Yet, consuming it vs. giving back to the community is out of balance. Literally, every project is constantly looking for helping hands. Contributing a small amount would be relatively easy for most of us. If we would all contribute a little bit each year, it could have a huge impact overall. So, let’s do it. Reach out. Contribute today!