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Cover image for OCS 2020 Breakout: Helen Altshuler & Ulf Adams
Joseph (JJ) Jacks for COSS Community

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OCS 2020 Breakout: Helen Altshuler & Ulf Adams

Helen Altshuler is the Co-Founder & CEO of EngFlow, a saas startup that is redefining the way teams build software, leading to better tools, happier engineers, faster product iterations, and more successful companies. Prior to EngFlow Helen worked at Google, managing engineering for Google Maps, and community adoption of open source build system Bazel created by Google. She has over 20 years in software development, start-up CTO, and director of engineering experience at Google, PeerIQ and J.P. Morgan. Helen is passionate about developing a diverse tech pipeline, and empowering inclusive and collaborative engineering culture through her work as a startup advisor, CTO mentor, Girls Who Code coach, and Pace University School of CSIS board advisor.

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Ulf Adams is the Co-Founder & CTO of EngFlow GmbH with 10+ years of developing software and managing software development teams. He worked as a Senior Staff Software Engineer and manager at Google, where he maintained Google's large-scale build infrastructure, and led the development of the open-source Bazel build tool (https://bazel.build). Ulf is a trusted expert and a prolific contributor in the Bazel open source community, and a presenter at industry tech conferences. His open-source implementation for floating-point to string conversion (https://github.com/ulfjack/ryu) has been adopted by MSVC, libc++, boost, and others.

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JJ interviews the engineering creators of the open source Bazel project, the most exciting and popular build system, created by Google.

What are your backgrounds? What have you been working on in the last 5-10 years, leading in to starting a company? - 0:25

What was the origin story behind Blaze? Why did Google create it? And why was Bazel created? - 1:53

When was the Bazel project released in the open? What is the relationship between the current open-source Bazel project and Blaze? - 5:47

Thinking of TensorFlow and Kubernetes, Google projects that were built from scratch for public consumption, whereas this project is actually open sourcing a codebase that Google built internally and translated into a really successful project. Today the Bazel open-source community is really significant and large. Could you try quantifying that, in terms of users and contributors and people running in production? - 7:20

Your mission at EngFlow is to keep engineers in flow. Could you tell us what the mission for the company is more broadly, and what the relationship between the company and Bazel is? - 10:08

How do you think about building the open-source community? What are your opinions around thinking about customers and open-source users? - 14:35

Who is behind the company? How did you come to starting the company together, and who is the founding team? - 15:50

Give us an overview of the build system landscape today. There’s lots of tools and technologies. What does the landscape look like today, and how does Bazel fit within that landscape? - 18:11


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