Nicole Thomas – Featured Salt Contributor

March 9, 2017 - Rhett Glauser

The Salt Contributor Profile Series

Starting with just Tom in 2011, the Salt open source community is now comprised of thousands of contributors. While large and vibrant, we are most proud that the Salt community is friendly and inclusive. But the Salt community is only as good as its individual, diverse members, who don’t always get the attention they deserve. So Mike Place, SaltStack software development manager and Salt core lead maintainer, decided to start a SaltStack blog series to profile a new and notable Salt contributor every once in a while. This is that. Introducing Salt contributor Nicole Thomas.

Let’s meet Salt contributor Nicole Thomas, SaltStack software engineer, and the ninth most prolific developer on the Sourced “100 Awesome Women In The Open-Source Community You Should Know” list. Inherently, this puts Salt contributor Nicole at the top of any Salt or Python dev community as well.

Nicole Thomas

Tell us about your yourself.
My name is Nicole Thomas, a.k.a rallytime, and I am a software engineer at SaltStack where I work on the core open source team. I just had my three year anniversary with SaltStack last month. I live in Salt Lake City and when I am not working with computers, I tend to spend my time outdoors: camping during the warmer months, skiing in the snowy months, and hiking whenever I can. I have a ridiculously cute Pomeranian puppy named Rita who goes hiking with me, even though she has to ride in my backpack when she gets tired. I also love to cook and sing.

What areas of the Salt code base do you focus on?
I’ve been on a couple of different teams during my time at SaltStack. As a member of the QA team, I was focused on creating new tests and improving the stability of our releases. When I moved into a software engineering role, I started on the integrations team and largely worked with Salt Cloud and Salt Proxy Minion.

Now, as a member of the core team, I am typically focused on issues related to the core functionality of Salt. So I’ve been fortunate to gain a wide knowledge of many areas of Salt, rather than a specific area of expertise. The code base of Salt is vast and I am always looking to learn more about any area I can help improve Salt, whether fixing bugs, writing documentation, or building a new feature.

What brought you to the Salt community?
I was finishing my CS degree several years ago and Mike Place, whom I had worked with in the past, reached out to see if I was interested in applying for a QA position at SaltStack. I looked into the project and was excited to learn more and wanted to get involved immediately. I had never contributed to open source before and there was quite a bit of code to learn, so I dove in. It was a great decision, as I have loved working with the Salt community and interacting with so many of our users and contributors on a daily basis.

What areas of Salt do you feel like people don’t know enough about?
The Salt community doesn’t know enough about our test suite. On the surface the various pieces can appear somewhat confusing. However, I’ve recently made efforts to update the Salt test suite documentation to help people get started. I find that once you have some of the basics down, it’s really quite easy to put together some simple regression tests. I would encourage anyone who contributes to Salt, or wants to start contributing but isn’t sure where to go, to check out the “Writing Tests for Salt” tutorial and give it a try.

What are your plans for contributing to Salt in the future?
Right now I am fixing as many bugs as possible in between my regular project maintenance tasks. One thing I am working on now that I hope to finish soon is a test Salt Runner for the salt-bootstrap script. I am very excited about this project and want to get it running on the pull requests and release branches for for the salt-bootstrap repository.

How do you use Salt?
I use Salt every day from spinning up and configuring servers in order to troubleshoot test failures to automating the tasks I perform on a regular basis as part of the maintenance of the Salt repository.