Keeping up as a developer

Technology moves fast, even when you specialize in a particular field or language, it sometimes feels difficult to keep up. Every month it seems like there is a new Javascript library to learn, a new platform to jump on, browsers are updating and phasing out support for older versions, and there’s always something new on the market we worry will change everything. Gutenberg is a great example of this – the new WordPress editor we’ve all been dreading was finally released and.. it was fine. Yes, it requires us as developers to push ourselves, to not lean too hard on our habits while developing new websites and learn a new way to develop, but that’s why we all got into this industry right? I personally love learning new languages, pushing myself past what I think is the limit of my abilities, I don’t always have enough time to do it but I do find it’s important to prioritize.

These are a few of the ways I try to keep up and stay relevant as a developer:

  • Community – I keep up with my schools alumni Slack channels, especially the WordPress and Freelancer channels. It’s a really great place to find out when there is something new on the scene, and an even greater place to go for help when I’m bumping up against something I just can’t seem to figure out – there’s always someone there with a clever solution on hand.
  • Trends – This one can be a bit tricky, I find it’s important to keep an eye on trends, but then to also discern what works for you and what doesn’t. There are so many trends, and some stick (like responsive design) and some end up just being a fad that fades away quickly. It can take a lot of time and energy to really know a new language or platform, so it’s important to be able to know which is worth that effort, and which isn’t. Though sometimes a fad can give some insight into an upcoming staple.
  • Podcasts – A guilty pleasure of mine is podcasts. There are a handful of really great development and tech podcasts that are helpful for finding out about upcoming trends and help to keep me up to speed on the latest news in tech: Herding Code, The Change Log, The Big Web Show are a few I love. I also listen to a handful of Small Business, Creative Business, Women Run Business etc podcasts that I feel help to round me out in terms of prioritizing and strategizing my own business.
  • Events – Full disclosure I’m a bit of an introvert, so events aren’t my #1 way of keeping up as a developer, but I still do make it to a few each year. WordCamp is great place to jump in and out of talks you’re interested in throughout the day, and meet other like-minded people, and Ladies Learning Code events (which I mentor at) are a really great place to learn new tech skills in an inclusive and fun environment.
  • Blogs, Magazines and Books – Each with their own pro’s and con’s, I find it’s good to have a balance between where you’re learning. Blogs are of course the fastest, easiest and typically, the most recent source of information. There’s also plenty of guides, demo’s, code snippets and tools to use and learn from. Books can go really in-depth on a particular subject and cover things more expansively than a blog, but of course, they’re more of a time investment and can be dated. Magazines I find are somewhere in between the two, they are current and articles can go deep on a particular subject, I also find they’re great for information you didn’t know you needed – I have a subscription to Fast Company and Monocle to cover the span of Tech, Business and Design.