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Jim Blake: Dedication and Talent Marked Tenure as VIVO Software Developer

Winchester, MA  On Sept. 21, 2015 Graham Triggs took over as technical lead for the VIVO project. He took the reins from a team of talented developers that include the original VIVO developers–Jon Corson-Rikert, Brian Lowe, and Brian Caruso, many others who have contributed to VIVO as an open source project, and Jim Blake as the recent VIVO lead developer and release manager. As Jim Blake ended his official work with VIVO he paused to reflect on key accomplishments and changes during his tenure.

When Jim joined the VIVO project in 2009  as a quality control programmer it was emerging from inception and incubation at Cornell as a grant-funded enterprise.  He recalls being enthusiastic about participating in a technical team that valued tasks related to ensuring that software was production-ready and easy to use.

VIVO Project Director Mike Conlon: “Jim has been steadfast in moving VIVO forward as an open and accessible software project through both coding and documentation; he has worked largely behind the scenes to improve structure and modularity, add key features such as internationalization, and encourage community involvement through patience and good humor.”

Jim developed the first formal VIVO release process, related workflows and associated roles that were documented and repeatable. He wrote test scripts and established a continuous integrations server to encourage quality control. Blake appreciated being able to work on software development issues that he felt were important in order to advance community goals.

He suggests, “A major VIVO accomplishment beginning with the NIH award has been a transition away from a one-off artisanal software package to something that is more production- oriented and that can be used in a variety of settings.”

Jim Blake wore several hats during his time with VIVO including that of VIVO release manager while also writing code–the equivalent of flying a plane while it’s being built. He knew that he could contribute to making the code base more accessible to community developers by imposing or extracting an architecture to make whole sections replaceable. Much of Jim’s documentation can be found on the VIVO wiki alongside many other community contributed documents.

In looking forward Jim said, “It’s important to learn as much as possible from other open source projects while keeping in mind that VIVO project serves its own very unique community.”

VIVO project colleagues, partners and friends extend heartfelt thanks to Jim Blake for his leadership, energy and vision, and wish him the best as he looks forward to the next phase of his career in library-focused information technology development.