The Art of Managing a Team (from an 18 y/o)

William Law
7 min readAug 22, 2020

My experience as a fellow in the MLH Fellowship (while leading a project)

A quick recap…

I’ve spent the last 12 weeks participating in the MLH Fellowship, contributing to open-source projects like Babel, SheetJS, and Docsify alongside 10 other student developers. I mainly contributed to Babel Core (the compiler package that 7M+ people use every day) and SheetJS (Excel/Word-like functionalities in JavaScript).

I spent the first 2 months mainly working on low-level concepts like Abstract Syntax Tree (AST) bugs for Babel, and binaries/scripting for js-word- a greenfield project in SheetJS.

After familiarizing myself with the codebase and submitting several Pull Requests (PRs) to both projects (some noticeable ones here and here), I wanted exposure leading to a more technical project.

Specifically, I wanted to understand what it’s like to coordinate with others and manage group responsibilities. The reason for this is because getting to experience both the technical and management sides as a developer allowed me to better understand the problem AND the product that I’m trying to solve and deliver.

It made me think more about the code I wrote, the architecture of the platform, and the User Experience that I wanted to deliver (more throughout the blog).

And, it was around this time when our group transitioned to working on Babel Sandbox, a greenfield project from Henry Zhu (a maintainer at Babel). Babel Sandbox is an updated version to the Babel REPL, with the main intention of making it easier to understand/contribute to Babel.

We did this by combining features from AST Explorer, the Babel Handbook, and the Babel REPL into an IDE-like interface that you can easily share and clone just like a Git repository.

Quick demo of Babel Sandboxes!

Creating design specs

At the start of the project, my main responsibility was drafting design specs for the main features our MVP would have. A design spec is a comprehensive document that contains all the important details in…

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William Law

swe // trading — prev: @MLHacks, eng @ early-stage startups | Twitter @wlaw_