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HHVM: A Contributor’s Story with Jonathan Warner

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In A Contributor’s Story series, our major open source contributors and community members give us insight into the projects they are working on, the successes and challenges they face when developing, and best practices for getting started in open source. For today’s blog post, we have Jonathan Warner, a HHVM contributor working on issues and code efficiency through the MLH Fellowship. Let’s learn from them how we can start contributing to HHVM.


“Working on HHVM/Hack was an amazing opportunity. The project’s awesome maintainers helped me make my first open source contributions, and guided me to become a better problem solver and hacker.”

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m a UI Engineer from Harrisonburg, VA. I enjoy toying with CSS and building full-stack web apps.

What excites you to work on open source?

What excited me the most about working on open source is being able to make a positive impact on software while working with absolutely brilliant people. The maintainers that I have worked with on this project have been absolutely fantastic.

What project are you working on currently?

I am currently working on the HHVM/Hack project. Hack is Meta’s language derived from PHP to support their products, and HHVM is a virtual machine for executing programs that are written in Hack.

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How did you first learn about this project? What steps did you take to start working on this project?

I learned about this project through the Major League Hacking Fellowship. Through this fellowship I have had the privilege to work with the project maintainers and contribute to the project with their support.

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Did you face any challenges or roadblocks along the way? How did you go about solving them?

When I first started working on the project I hadn’t written a single line of OCaml in my life, and I had only the faintest idea what a functional programming language was. This was a huge challenge up front, and I had no idea where to get started. The project maintainers recommended a book called Real World OCaml, which turned out to be invaluable. I am not a huge fan of programming books, and tried my best to avoid reading the book. Given that there are few online resources for OCaml, I was really struggling. After reading through the getting started guide in the book and asking questions about things I was unsure of, I was a lot more successful.

What resources did you find most helpful when working on your project?

The HHVM/Hack project maintainers are absolutely awesome. They have been so helpful, responsive, and are brilliant. If you are looking to enter this space, check out the book Real World OCaml which is available for free online. The getting started guided tour in this book was so helpful in getting me started with OCaml.

What is the current status of development for this project?

My work on the Hack project has primarily consisted of writing quickfix functionality for programmers writing Hack. I’ve written a few fixes that have been merged and are actively making Hack developers more efficient.

Reflecting on the work that you did, what did you learn about the project, process of development and open source as a whole?

Throughout my work on this project I’ve gone from knowing zero OCaml to understanding it better and really enjoying working with it. I’ve also had the chance to learn more in depth about how the Hack programming language works behind the scenes. Being able to contribute to the project and see that my code is being used by other developers is really exciting.

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What is the best takeaway you have from working on this project and open source in general?

For me, the barrier of entry into open source was pretty high, but the community is generally full of people who really want to help you contribute in any way they can, and successfully getting your code merged into a project is a really good feeling.

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What advice would you give to future contributors to the open source projects?

Don’t hesitate to ask questions! So many times I was so close to a solution, but was missing a critical piece of info. Asking good questions is an important skill that will save time and make you a better programmer.

We would like to thank Jonathan for taking time to share their experiences with us. It was very interesting to learn about the process of contributing to open source and we would like to thank Jonathan for their continuous contributions to the Meta Open Source ecosystem. If you’re interested to learn more about Jonathan’s work, follow them on LinkedIn.


About A Contributor’s Story series

Open source at Meta is about more than just code. It’s also about facilitating environments where collaborators from all backgrounds and experiences can come together to discuss ideas, foster innovation and work on projects together.

This blog is a part of A Contributor’s Story series where we hear from various contributors about their experiences contributing to the open source projects under the Meta Open Source ecosystem, how to get started, the challenges and successes faced when developing, and what excites them about open source. Look out for more blogs from A Contributor’s Story series where we learn about various other open source projects and how to start contributing to them.

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To learn more about Meta Open Source, visit our open source site, subscribe to our YouTube channel, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What’s happening: We’re removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

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For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we’re sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you’re an app admin, you’ll receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it’s time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We’ve built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You’ll be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We’ve included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you’ll have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That’s why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we’re able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It’s a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it’s imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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