YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER heard of the late Jim Weirich or his software. But you’ve almost certainly used apps built on his work.
Weirich helped create several key tools for Ruby, the popular programming language used to write the code for sites like Hulu, Kickstarter, Twitter, and countless others. His code was open source, meaning that anyone could use it and modify it. “He was a seminal member of the western world’s Ruby community,” says Justin Searls, a Ruby developer and co-founder of the software company Test Double.
When Weirich died in 2014, Searls noticed that no one was maintaining one of Weirich’s software-testing tools. That meant there would be no one to approve changes if other developers submitted bug fixes, security patches, or other improvements. Any tests that relied on the tool would eventually fail, as the code became outdated and incompatible with newer tech.
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