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Spotlight: Jan De Dobbeleer

Creator of oh-my-posh

Jan De Dobbeleer
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Hey Jan, can you tell us about your background? Where did you grow up? How did you venture into programming?

I grew up close to Brussel, Belgium, and actually started my career as a watchmaker. Even though I was always busy working with computers as a kid, it never really crossed my mind to do something with it in my professional life. Watchmaking, in a way, is a lot like programming – you need to understand the system to ensure it works as designed. After working for various luxury brands abroad, I came back to Belgium for the love of my life, and it soon became apparent I couldn’t move forward in my aspirations as a professional watchmaker. Moving back to my original passion, I started attending school again to become a programmer. My initial dream was to become an Android developer, but after a few months of C#, I ventured into Windows Phone (huge promises at the time). That basically skyrocketed my career as I was making apps on the side getting noticed in the ecosystem. This moved me from operations engineer to app developer to team lead to development lead all the way to CTO (which is what I’m doing now at TrendMiner) by embracing a passion for software development.

What inspired you to build oh-my-posh?

Being a Windows developer among many Unix nerds makes you notice the CLI and the options in that ecosystem. As there wasn’t really anything like oh-my-zsh when it came to Powershell (OK, there were some small tools like PS-Agnoster), nothing really ventured into prompt themes, so I went out to create something for myself and called to oh-my-posh as a homage to oh-my-zsh. It grew a bit out of hand as it got a lot of traction. :-) The experience I built over the years led me to create a cross-platform version, moving away from Powershell alone as I, and the Microsoft ecosystem, moved towards working on and with multiple platforms.

How many other core contributors work on oh-my-posh today, apart from yourself?

There’s one dedicated person (Laurent Nullens) who assists in handling issues, and in total, we have about 60 people who contributed something.

What problem does oh-my-posh solve for its users?

It makes your terminal pretty and insightful so that you want to work in it. :-)

What are some major features coming up in oh-my-posh in the next releases?

There are currently two beta features in the works which you can already try. The first one is “Tooltips”, which render a context when you type a certain command. The second one is “Transient prompt” which makes your previous prompt smaller to get more screen real estate by still keeping a very contextual prompt below. You can find that information here.

What has been the most frequent feature request from users in the project that you haven’t gotten to yet?

Good question. I’m quite on point when following up the issues, but a Windows ARM build is still pending due to neither having the build infrastructure nor support from Golang. Although, Go 1.17 might change that.

Who is the ideal user of oh-my-posh? What are some use cases of using oh-my-posh?

Anyone who uses the terminal. If you’re looking to spice things up, and especially if you’re working in a .NET environment, which we treat as a first-class citizen looking at the history of oh-my-posh.

Are there any success stories about other people or organizations using this project that you would like to share?

Scott Hanselman showed it during his MSBuild keynote earlier this year. He’s been a powerful advocate of the tool and has shown many people the way (still to this day). This is a personal win!

If someone wants to support the development of oh-my-posh, where can they donate?

GitHub Sponsors is the way to go, but even if you have nothing to spare, endorsing me as a GitHub Stars is always useful!

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