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Lightning Interview #4: Frans Thamura on Starting and Leading a Java User Group

Posted by editor on May 12, 2013 at 2:37 AM PDT

Frans Thamura is a leader of JUG Indonesia, a Java Champion, an entrepreneur, and the founder of Meruvian. He has implemented the JEDI program in Indonesia under the goverment's Java education services JENI Project.

In this fourth "Lightning Interview" I asked Frans about starting and leading a Java User Group.


1. Why did you decide to start JUG Indonesia?

Frans: I posted an ad in the newspaper for a Java programmer, and the only person who replied was a telecenter operator who know only to run Windows. There were around 125 people in a mailing list called JavaJob. These became the first members of JUG Indonesia. Then in 3 months we had our first meeting, and around 500 people came! People wanted to know what Java is and learn. 10 years later, the situation is still same.

2. If someone wants to start a JUG, what obstacle that they might not think about in advance would you recommend that they prepare for?

Frans: They must think about the ecosystem and link the stakeholders, and manage conflicts between people who are interested in including vendors, especially multi-national companies like Oracle, IBM, Redhat.

3. Once a JUG has been started, it needs to acquire a core membership, and some corporate sponsorship is also quite beneficial. Do you have a few comments about sustaining and growing a JUG in relation to these areas?

Frans: Time and patience will bring good people, but first you must work to make a good program, to make sure that people who join are confident that this is the right community... If you do this, the rest is like a snow ball: just follow it, and boom, a big community is born. The next phase is to link with other communities. Your leadership will then become a contributor to those communities, and vice versa. Once that happens, your JUG will eventually sustain itself without a lot of contribution required from the original founder (which was needed at the start).

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-- Kevin Farnham (@kevin_farnham)