How to Stay Up-To-Date as a Software Developer

If you are in the JavaScript world, I'm sure you have already heard of the phrase "JavaScript Fatigue". It seems that new opensource JavaScript tools and frameworks are being released everyday, and it causes new and seasoned developers to experience some kind of a fatigue when trying to keep up with all of them.

But the software industry is moving at a very high pace in general. We are always looking for ways to improve the experience developing applications (developer experience), but also reduce the time and complexity involved in delivering software. Software developers are students for life.

In this post, I want to share my ways of staying up to date in web development without going insane. Although the tips are directed more towards JavaScript developers and web development, developers using other languages will also find it helpful.

Why stay up to date

One of the main reason is to stay relevant in the job market. You will not remain in your current job forever. You might get fired, laid off, or come across a higher paying job. At some point in your career, you will have to move to another opportunity simply to improve yourself. If you only use old technology and do not want to learn new things, you will be left behind.

Another reason is to learn better ways of doing things. There might be a simpler way of achieving the task you have at hand. Someone may have already solved the problem, and you just have to follow his approach. Learn so that you can become more productive.

Not knowing everything

It is definitely ok not to know everything. It is perfectly fine not to learn every new shiny toy that comes out. You might go insane (hence JavaScript fatigue) if you do that.

If a new framework is released, I don't immediately go deep into learning it. I usually just get an overview of it, and know that it exists, but I don't invest much of my time learning it. I would give the framework some time to mature and get traction from other developers before getting serious with it.

I would also learn technologies that are only relevant to me. If I am a web developer, why would I try to learn tools and frameworks needed for Android development? That would be crazy, right?!

Tips for staying up to date

Newsletters

Subscribe to newsletters that are relevant to your career. If you are a JavaScript developer like me for example, subscribe to web development newsletters. Here are some of the newsletters I am subscribed to.

  1. React Status. This is weekly newsletter (every Wednesday) containing updates on the framework, tutorials, tools, tips and stories of of developers using the framework.
  2. Frontend Focus. This is a weekly newsletter (also every Wednesday) about HTML, CSS, browser features and updates, accessibility, and other frontend related stuffs.
  3. JavaScript Weekly. Another weekly newsletter (every Friday) about the JavaScript language, toolings, tutorials, and also frameworks.

You can spend 30 minutes or an hour per week to read some of the articles in these newsletters.

Podcasts

I love podcasts. I listen to at least one or two podcasts every week. They are very convenient to me because I can listen to them when I'm walking to work or doing something else. Unlike newsletters, you won't find tutorials in podcasts. Instead, you get discussions, debates, and insights into technologies and tools.

Here are podcasts I subscribe to:

  1. SyntaxFM. This is probably my favorite. Scott and Wes are very entertaining, and they give you the "tastiest, and hastiest" web development treat every week. They talk about JavaScript, HTML, CSS, web frameworks, career advice, and many other topics related to web development.
  2. RealTalk JavaScript. I just started listening to this recently. John Papa, together with other hosts, talk about some of the challenges faced by web developers. They usually invite guests to share their experiences when developing web applications.
  3. JavaScript Jabber. Podcast that is specifically dedicated to JavaScript. The episodes are about frontend, backend, coding practices, tools, environment, and many others.
  4. React Podcast. If you are into React, listen to this podcast. The episodes covers interviews, conversations, and discussions with React developers. You'll learn a lot on what is going on in the React land.

Twitter

I mainly use Twitter as my tech news feed. I follow relevant people in the industry to learn about other developers' opinion on things. Of all the social media in the internet, I think Twitter is where most software developers hang out. I am surprised that I have learned many tips and tricks I didn't know before from Twitter.

You can use Twitter to share your ideas and thoughts to other developers. If you have a blog, you can also share your article. Who knows it might help someone in need.

Conferences

Attending a tech conference is still one of the activities I want to do in my career. Due to my current location and situation, it is hard for me to attend any conference, but if you get an opportunity to do so, please attend. It is an opportunity to network with great developers from around the world.

Attending a conference in person is very different from reading a blog tutorial, watching a video, or listening to a podcast. When you attend a conference, you can ask questions and interact with other developers.

Blogging

You may ask, "How will blogging help me stay up to date"? When you start a blog, you will have to find topics to write about. This will require you to do research, hence you teach yourself new things. You don't want to embarrass yourself by teaching outdated stuff.

I would also like to include in this section that it is also helpful to follow other developers' blog. You can subscribe to their newsletter. There are many awesome blogs out there with great content. Some of my favorites:

Tania Rascia

Kent Dodds

Robin Wieruch

Conclusion

Staying up to date with things is very important for software developers, but it is also though. By knowing how to stay relevant, you will be able to level up your career. The tips above are my ways of staying up to date. What about you?

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© 2020. Naina Razafindrabiby