You Choose Offers an Interactive Way to Learn about Tools



The cloud-native ecosystem offers a wealth of tools you can use to improve your projects. So many, in fact, that it can be overwhelming to keep track of them all, even for open source veterans. That’s why Whitney Lee and Viktor Farcic dreamt up the YouTube series You Choose, an interactive way to learn about available open source tools and see them in action via live demos.  

On this episode of the Open at Intel podcast recorded at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2023, Lee and Farcic discuss the origins of You Choose, how they convert the YouTube show into live presentations fit for the stage, and what they have planned next. Subscribe to the DevOps Toolkit YouTube channel to follow along with their latest series on security.  

Listen to the full episode here. This conversation has been edited and condensed for brevity and clarity. 

Katherine Druckman: The two of you recently presented at a conference called Rejekts. For the uninitiated, could you tell us about Rejekts? 

Viktor Farcic: Rejekts is a large meetup that happens before KubeCon, featuring talks that were rejected from KubeCon. There are simply too many applications going to KubeCon, and a significant percentage is rejected. It doesn’t mean those talks are not good, it’s just that KubeCon can’t schedule them all. Rejekts gives them another opportunity.  

Whitney Lee: The call for papers for Rejekts opens on the same day you find out whether the talk you submitted for KubeCon gets accepted. Rejekts became popular. A couple hundred people show up. It ends up being a who’s-who of DevRel and maintainers and many people from the community who are excited to see each other arrive to KubeCon a little early for this more-intimate event.  

Katherine Druckman: Before we talk about your Rejekts session, tell me about what each of you do? 

Viktor Farcic: What I do changes frequently. I’m very curious, so I often pick something for the week, like going to a security event. I’m always exploring things. 

Whitney Lee: He’s being modest. He has a very successful YouTube channel called DevOps Toolkit, and he’s a prolific video maker. If you hang out with him for an hour at KubeCon, you’ll see him get asked for 10 selfies from fans. 

I’m a developer advocate at VMware Tanzu. I host streaming shows. Viktor and I have one together called You Choose. I also have one called Enlightning, where I have a lightboard and draw out some things. I’m also a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) ambassador and a host of Cloud Native Live, and I speak at conferences. 

The Makings of You Choose

Katherine Druckman: Tell us about your show, You Choose. How did it come about?  

Whitney Lee: Viktor and I met a couple years ago. I haven’t been in this field for very long, but we met pretty quickly, and I asked him to submit a talk with me at KubeCon. He said yes, and I thought, “Cool, Viktor is a star, and he’s going to submit with me.” But then I hung out with him in Detroit, and I saw four different people ask him to submit with them, and he said yes to every single one. So I’m like, “I’m not so special after all.” I started chewing on what we could do together. We have pretty disparate learning paths—he was an expert, and I was just getting started. One day I had the idea to do a choose your own adventure through the CNCF landscape. When I told Viktor the idea, he was silent for a moment, and then he said, “We have to do this.”  

As we made the proposal for our first talk, we realized what a tall order it was going to be and how much we’d need to learn if our talk got selected. To help us learn, we started a streaming show called You Choose. Each episode is a new system design choice. Our first episode was about building a container image. Our second episode was about choosing an image registry. The third episode was application configuration. For each episode, we take all the projects in the CNCF landscape that can do that thing—so far, there haven’t been too many per topic—and we invite a guest on to represent each tool and tell us about it. But the thing is, they only get five minutes to talk. If they got longer, they’d drone on about the details, and our goal is to give an overview of the tool to someone who has no idea what it is. 

Viktor Farcic: There’s no exception. It’s not five and a half minutes. It’s five minutes. We will cut you off. 

Whitney Lee: It’s a live show, so we answer questions from the audience and have a discussion portion. At the end of the show, the community votes for which technology they want us to implement into our ongoing demo. We don’t use the word “winner” when referring to the chosen projects—it doesn’t mean it's the best technology, just that the people want to learn more about them. Then we open the next episode with us implementing the tool that was chosen in the previous episode. So that’s how we got all the background knowledge for what we presented as a 30-minute talk, which is a lot of information at once. 


Bringing You Choose to the Stage

Katherine Druckman: How do you convert a YouTube show into a 30-minute live presentation? 

Viktor Farcic: That’s the cool part. If the talk is live, people vote live. Whitney explains each of the choices, they vote, and I implement whatever they choose. Then we move on.  

Whitney Lee: For example, our Choose Your Own Adventure: The Perilous Passage to Production talk opened with needing to provision a production cluster. We start by asking, first of all, why do we provision a cluster? What are we even looking for, generally speaking? Then we share available tools in the CNCF landscape you can use. After I give an overview of the tools, there’s a live audience vote right then. Viktor implements whichever tool is picked, and then it’s back to me to explain the next topic and set of tools, which was GitOps. After the audience votes on them, Viktor implements the GitOps portion on top of the cluster he just provisioned based on the first choice.  

When we did this for Rejekts, I was very nervous beforehand because usually we’re giving these talks to more of a public audience. At Rejekts, I was talking about the projects to the maintainers of the projects. That was intimidating for me. But the flip side of that coin is that they were very invested in how well their project does. The voting was electric in that room.  

Viktor Farcic: It was a battle royale. 

Whitney Lee: Argo CD and Flux were so close that when Victor started the demo, Argo CD was on top, but by the time Viktor finished implementing Argo CD, Flux had actually won. Honestly, there’s like a 70 percent chance the demo is going to work, so it always feels good at the end when it all comes together.  

What’s Next

Katherine Druckman: So this is the second talk? The first presentation was last year at in Amsterdam?  

Whitney Lee: Yeah. We just presented our second talk at Rejekts; it was probably rejected from this KubeCon because we gave it as a keynote at KubeCon China. The first talk was getting the code from the developer’s laptop and building out a production environment in Kubernetes; there were around six design steps. The second talk was building a production environment and getting an application deployed in production, and there were four steps there. Coming up on the show, and later our call for papers, is security, and I think eight design steps. I’m not sure how we’re going to fit it all into a talk. We’ll apply with our security talk, and if it doesn’t get accepted at KubeCon Paris, we’ll do it at Rejekts in Paris. 

We have a really fun time. It’s a good way to give an overview of how tools compare to each other and then also how they integrate with one another. And maybe even what you should be thinking about when you’re making these choices.  

Katherine Druckman: What else are you excited about?  

Whitney Lee: We have a GitHub repo where people can make their own decisions. That has every permutation of how every project works together. We have it totally figured out for our first two chapters, and we’re getting it figured out for chapter three, security. I’m hoping to spend time getting at least chapter one into book form so we can actually have a book about it, which I think will be cool. 

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About the Author

Katherine Druckman, Open Source Evangelist, Intel 

Katherine Druckman, an Intel open source evangelist, hosts the podcasts Open at Intel, Reality 2.0, and FLOSS Weekly. A security and privacy advocate, software engineer, and former digital director of Linux Journal, she’s a longtime champion of open source and open standards. 

Whitney Lee, Staff Technical Advocate, VMware 

Whitney Lee is a lovable goofball who enjoys understanding and using tools in the cloud-native landscape. Creative and driven, Whitney recently pivoted from an art-related career to one in tech. She is active in the open source community, especially around CNCF projects focused on developer productivity. You can catch her lightboard streaming show Enlightning on Tanzu.TV. And not only does she rock at tech—she has toured with the band Mutual Benefit on keyboards and vocals. 

Viktor Farcic, Developer Advocate, Upbound 

Viktor Farcic is lead rapscallion at Upbound; a member of the Google Developer Experts, CDF Ambassadors, and GitHub Stars groups; and a published author. He is a host of the YouTube channel DevOps Toolkit and a cohost of DevOps Paradox