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An interview with Anvit Srivastav, AtoM Maintainer

Anvit Srivastav joined Artefactual in January 2023 to join the Maintainers team with a focus on AtoM. Anvit has a deep background in teaching web development. When he’s not working, he spends his time playing board games, watching films, camping and hiking, and taste-testing every bubble tea vendor in Vancouver.

You’re new to the company. What drew you to Artefactual and the Maintainers position?

A couple of things. First of all, I’ve always been a big user and supporter of open source software. So it’s always exciting to be on the other side and be able to contribute to these sorts of things – and it’s not like you need to be part of a company to do that but it’s nice to have the time to contribute during work hours! So that’s part of it. The other part of it is, you know, having worked in the tech space for quite a few years, it’s kind of rare to work in a space where you have subject matter experts and people who use these tools be directly talking to you. That’s not common and it’s a thing that really good to have as a developer. It never sits right with me where developers make a bunch of decisions and they’re like, “Ah, this is probably fine and it’ll probably work” but it’s not really what people want.

The Maintainers specifically is exciting to me for a different reason, which is for the last couple of decades, the software world has been moving at a very fast pace where they’re constantly changing tools and breaking things, and not necessarily looking back at stuff that they’ve built and making sure that it still works. I personally feel like it’s not exciting to constantly have to shift technologies just for the sake of it, when the technology that’s underlying is robust and there isn’t a need to update for the sake of updating. So being a part of a team that does exactly that, maintains the software long term and ensures that it still continues to work, while at the same time ensuring that it meets the needs of the people who are actually using it, that’s really exciting.

What are the biggest challenges you foresee for the team?

I’m going to speak mostly from a personal perspective, though it applies to a few other people on the team – we’re all people who are new to both the archival space and to the software, so while we might have other backgrounds that might help us work on code or be familiar with the underlying tools, this is a new space for us. So quickly getting a sense of what both the space is like and what parts of the codebase need our attention, that’s going to be the biggest challenge.

It’s a big codebase! Over both projects.

Yeah, it’s pretty massive! It’s not the biggest I’ve ever worked with, but it’s still pretty massive and it was kind of intimidating when I first started looking at it.

What excites you about the future for AtoM?

It’s basically what excites me about building anything, which is that you constantly get to add new features and new functionality, fixing things that people are having problems with. I’m trying to keep things under wraps, because there’s stuff that shouldn’t go out in public –

I won’t reveal any secrets!

We have some exciting updates, you know, some major overhauls planned. It’s kind of exciting when you get to introduce new and exciting things to the public. Let’s see, how can I phrase it… we’re keeping our codebase up to date with what’s out there, and also addressing some of our customer’s needs or requests. That’s exciting.

Finally, a fun fact about yourself. It can be anything.

This is hard! There are the pre-pandemic fun facts and the post-pandemic fun facts. Pre-pandemic fun fact, I used to be really into traveling to national parks and doing landscape photography. I used to live in the US and I visited 15 national parks. I didn’t have a lot of time in Canada before the pandemic hit but I’ve still been to 4 or 6 national parks here, that’s still a fair bit.

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