Who is down? Me. After more than 10 years at RStudio/Posit, the time has come for me to explore other opportunities. A little over two weeks ago, I was told that I was laid off and my last day would be 2023-12-31. Frankly speaking, I was quite surprised but only for a short moment. I fully respected Posit’s decision, and quickly accepted the conclusion that my contribution no longer deserved a full-time job here. The end of a relationship often does not imply anything wrong or a failure of either party. Instead, it can simply indicate a mismatch, which is normal. People just change. With these amazing years in mind, I left mostly with gratitude in my heart.
# number of days I worked at RStudio/Posit
as.Date('2023-12-31') - as.Date('2013-08-26') + 1
Anyway, I guess this news may surprise some people in the R community and bring up questions or puzzles, so I want to write a blog post to address a few potential questions. If you have more, please feel free to ask me either by comments below or by email.
Despite the separation, I hold and value a lot of good memories about RStudio, which I could easily expand into another lengthy blog post, but I will save it for now since I got sick last week and am still recovering. In short, I would like to thank JJ for offering me my first ever full-time job and trusting me for so many years. I thank Joe and Tareef for the long-time mentorship (as well as friendship, I should say). I thank Hadley particularly for the guidance on the bookdown project from 2015 to 2016. I cannot say how much I appreciate Christophe’s help over the years (even a few years before he joined RStudio).
Really, there are too many people that I want to thank in the past ten years. Okay, I will write another post on this in the future after I settle down. As always, I am deeply grateful to the entire R and open source community for their belief and investment in the tools that I have been fortunate to work on.
No, those R packages will not be orphaned
At Posit, I felt blessed to work with super talented and committed engineers, and I believe that our collective work (in particular, R Markdown) has helped make R and reproducible research more accessible to the community and hopefully to the world as a whole.
After my departure from Posit, we are not going to drop these efforts. Posit has generously provided funding for me to continue, as a contractor, to support and extend knitr, rmarkdown, and various packages in this ecosystem. I look forward to continuing my collaboration with the Posit team on our shared areas of interest.
So please do not panic—our existing R packages will still be maintained. The only exception is the DT package, which is not included in the contract, and Posit plans to find a new maintainer for it. Before that happens, I might still be able to help (time permitting), but I cannot promise.
A minimalist has been growing inside me
Over the past three years, I have spent more time thinking and exploring a different approach to building software that is more minimalist and handcrafted than the larger projects like Shiny and Quarto, on which Posit is currently focused. I have become more interested in developing smaller software tools that do fewer things.
To a large extent, I’m leaning towards the “Less is More” or “Worse is Better” philosophy, and I find stoicism and the wabi-sabi concept very appealing. I do not mean my choice is correct or better. All choices are about a series of tradeoffs. I just happen to find a certain choice fits me better. Will I stick to it forever? I do not know.
This philosophical change of mine is not only about software development, but also my daily life. As a result, many friends find it hard to understand me when I ask them not to bring anything but an empty stomach when visiting me—perhaps someone who has visited me before can confirm it in the comments below.
Since I’m no longer a Posit employee, I’m facing some uncertainties now. I need to learn and figure out a few things that are new to me before I can come back to work again. Hopefully this will not take more than a couple of weeks.
The contract work I mentioned above is not enough for me to make a living (well, definitely enough for this minimalist guy but not for the family), so I’m also looking for opportunities that will give me the freedom and flexibility to continue to contribute to the R ecosystem and open source in general. If anyone has a job opening or is interested in my skills, I will be happy to chat, and please feel free to email me.
For now, I have not decided yet whether I want to take a full-time job next or just take this chance to become an independent contractor. It depends on the opportunities that I can get in the next few months.
I have never asked for financial support from the community before, because I have never felt the need (thanks to Posit). Now the situation has become different, and I’m a little concerned about the mortgage number in my account. For the first time, I’m mentioning my Github sponsorship page in my blog: https://github.com/sponsors/yihui. I will be very grateful if anyone could support me for a few months before I transition into the next stable phase of life. I will notify you when I do not need the sponsorship any more so you can cancel it if you are on a monthly tier. I will be happy to offer some casual help in return just as tiny side jobs. For example:
Answer your questions (technical or non-technical);
Help you optimize your website, or more importantly, cultivate a habit of writing so you can keep writing for the years to come;
Advise on how to make your presentation entertaining (but I refuse to sell my precious 20-year old GIF collections);
Share my experience on cooking, gardening, badminton, or even setting up a simple Karaoke system at home (now you are highly skeptical if this so-called minimalist gentleman is genuine);
As a “down” expert, write a letter to cheer you up if you are down for some reason (since the pandemic, I seem to have become much better at writing letters).
We don’t say goodbye. So actually this is not a “bye” to anyone, but a “hi” to an unknown new journey. I have enjoyed the past decade, and I’m in full curiosity about the future.