Apache Beam presents its mascot to the world

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Four years after it graduated from The Apache Software Foundation’s incubator, Apache Beam welcomes a new addition to the family: its mascot, the Beam firefly! Apache Beam is an open source data streaming programming model that runs on the back end of some of your favorite apps. It is the technology behind many popular apps that need to process big data in real time. And the reason it has come this far is the community of developers that contribute to this open source project every week. In the last few months, we worked with Apache Beam contributors to collaboratively design a mascot for the project—a creative asset that can represent the values of the project and attract new users and contributors—to keep growing the project and expanding its reach.

In these four years, the Apache Beam project has been a busy… firefly. According to the Apache Software Foundation’s 2019 Annual Report, Beam ranks fourth in the top five most active projects by commits, and it ranks first in the top five most active dev@ mailing list, showing a strong and transparent communication exchange within the community of developers. On top of that, 53 Meetup groups across the globe are directly or indirectly connected to sharing knowledge about Apache Beam use cases, applications and functionalities.

With this much momentum and enthusiasm for this project, it was a good opportunity to cement some of Apache Beam’s most valued characteristics, to help raise awareness of this rapidly growing project, and convert more users to contributors. “Projects with a mascot are more relatable. They signal that there is more to the project than its technical vision. It signals that there is more to the project than its code,” said project contributor Maximilian Michel. In November of last year, the community discussed adopting a mascot and as a result, 11 animal ideas emerged for a possible mascot: beaver, hedgehog, lemur, owl, salmon, trout, robot dinosaur, firefly, cuttlefish, dumbo octopus, and angler fish. After 48 contributors expressed their vote, the collective decision was a firefly. In January of this year, artist Julián Bruno set out to bring the mascot to life. There were four rounds of feedback on different iterations of the mascot, plus a final vote, where 18 people participated; Engagement increased with every new round. In the end, this process produced an original mascot, a model sheet (so that anyone may reproduce it), and two adaptations of the Beam firefly: one where it is learning, and one where it is doing what it does best… stream data! You can read more about this process on the Apache Software Foundation’s blog.

In a year that has presented a lot of challenges to bring people together, working on the mascot project with the Apache Beam community was refreshing, and felt like a medium for contributors to connect beyond code and technical questions. It is our wish that Apache Beam continues to grow as a project, and we hope to continue to support its community to: support newcomers, share what works, and collaborate with others to build great solutions.

By María Cruz, Google Open Source