Courtesy Mr. X

This story is shared by Nikhil Kabbin,
Director – Technology at Gramener.

In coding, not attributing is as good as stealing. I almost bore the brunt of it this once.

We were working with a reputed technology company to build custom Power BI visuals. Not to boast, but we did a pretty good job of building the first three from scratch. The fourth one was based on a component in the marketplace.

Six months later, the author of the component that the fourth visual was based on claimed her rights on her work. My client diffed the code — lo, and behold; he felt damned! She really WAS the original author.

He shot an email to his project manager and us. It read: “Team guidance requested, in light of my position on the team being eliminated. I was just about to fire off a mail to Gramener, but you may have opinions first.”

The email shocked me. I thought that the client’s job was at risk because of me! A burden too heavy to bear.

The next task was defending ourselves. I looked at my emails. We had evaluated the original component. It did not have the features the client had requested. But the base model existed. It was MIT licensed, which meant it only required the preservation of copyrights and license notices.

I had shot off an email informing the client before we extended the component. This email I had earlier sent and the ensuing thread was our savior.

Lesson learned: Attribution is important. Had I attributed the component prominently to its owner, none of this would have taken place? Or better yet, I should have created a pull request on Github and added the additional features to a new branch. That would have taken care of the issue and probably also helped someone.

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