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Practices

Development and business practices, methodologies, workflows, etc.
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Stephanie Morillo www.stephaniemorillo.co

Things to keep in mind when building an engineering blog

Stephanie Morillo drops some wisdom she gained running the Digital Ocean blog for the past year: Teams need buy in from the engineering org, a primary owner for all things blog related, a regular publishing cadence, ongoing conversations, flexibility, cross-functional communication, and open dialogue with readers to get the most out of their blog efforts. Getting buy-in can be the hardest part. I have a hard time convincing myself to blog, let alone other people.

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YouTube Icon YouTube

"You have to be run by ideas not hierarchy..." - Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, in his last interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the All Things Digital's D8 Conference in 2010. Steve died a year later. We're organized like a start up. We're the biggest startup on the planet. There's tremendous teamwork at the top of the company, which filters down to tremendous teamwork throughout the company. Teamwork is dependent on trusting the other folks to come through with their part without watching them all the time, but trusting they're going to come through with their parts. That's what we do really well. If you wanna hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions and you have to be run by ideas not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don't stay. This interview has many great highlights, but this part is some of my favorite advice Steve has ever given about how to run a company. We strive to achieve this at Changelog. Here's a link to the full video, and the same but deep linked to the part quoted in this post.

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Alex Sexton alexsexton.com

The 15 commandments of front-end performance

Alex Sexton, on his personal blog: This list is the product of many years of experience in the front-end web development field. I maintain this list as a reminder to myself to always follow best practices, and to not compromise on performance, even if I’m in a time crunch. I read it before I start any project, and share it with my team at work (sometimes we joke and call them “codemandments”) so we can all be on the same page and do our part to keep the web fast. He goes on to say "feel free to fork this for your own use," so use this liberally. Some of my favorites: I will use SVGs instead of JPGs, wherever possible. I will resist the urge to use window.alert to inform visitors that there’s a Facebook group for cool friends and if they wanna join it, that’s fine, it only takes a few clicks. 😂

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Ben Balter ben.balter.com

Why you probably shouldn’t add a CLA to your open source project

The TLDR: Contributor license agreements (a “nice to have” for many corporate-backed open source projects) create a contribution-hostile developer experience, require significant administrative overhead, shift legal blame to the party least equipped to defend against it, and are unnecessary given modern development tools. Click through to read each of these points explained in great detail.

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Practices Icon exple.tive.org

Why do programmers start counting at zero?

Mike Hoye dives deep to answer this question: By now your peripheral vision should have convinced you that this is a long article... He's right. This piece looked so long that I kept it open in a tab (the original Instapaper) for a couple of weeks before reading it. But it's not so bad! And the topic is fascinating: starting at 1 is not an unreasonable position at all; to a typical human thinking about the zeroth element of an array doesn’t make any more sense than trying to catch the zeroth bus that comes by, but we’ve clearly ended up here somehow. So what’s the story there? My head canon on the topic treats zero-indexing in terms of offsets. How much of an offset do you need to reach the first entry in the array? Zero. How much for the second? One. Turns out, nope that's not why!

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Practices Icon lornajane.net

What does a developer advocate do?

Lorna Jane Mitchell, on the role of a developer advocate: The less-visible part of the role is probably the most technical part. People rarely think of the gregarious advocates they see on stage or tweeting as being technical but we are, probably more than you expected. I write sample code and internal tools, but better than that: it's my business to wade in and improve anything that would make life easier for developers. An advocate is just that, someone who acts on another's behalf — a role that requires a variety of skills: The job requires a really weird mix of skills, and like most advocates I'm endlessly delighted to find that there's a job that combines such a great combination of stuff I like to do! The role varies a lot between jobs, and also between weeks — it's a little bit of everything.

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Medium Icon Medium

What I wish I knew when I became CTO

From David Mack, CTO and co-founder of SketchDeck: You can accumulate responsibility faster than you can learn how to harness it. I now appreciate that the infrastructure, frameworks, and languages you choose will stick with you for a really long time. Only hire when you feel you’re completely desperate for the role. Hire to keep up with growth, not to generate it. I really appreciated David's thoughts on hiring.

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Matt Steele steele.blue

The neverending side project

Matt Steele, ruminating on the side project that he's been hacking on since 2011: A long-lived side project gives you the chance to confront your old habits and see how far you've progressed. Over the years, he's rewritten the Super Bowl Squares app 5 different times. One of his findings: A long-lived side project also gives you breathing room to ask how much stock to put into trends. My original jQuery app still loads faster, has 60% less code, and (to my mind) is more understandable than my latest version built atop Angular 5. Have I actually made things better? Have we as an industry? Good question!

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CSS Icon frankchimero.com

Everything easy is hard again

This is a long, nuanced piece about progress in web-building technologies and practices. It's written from a designer's perspective, but many of the themes ring true to my developer's brain. I wonder if I have twenty years of experience making websites, or if it is really five years of experience, repeated four times. If you’ve been working in the technology industry a while, please tell me this sounds familiar to you. The primary example cited is how we answer the simple question, "How do I put two things next to each other?" The status quo has changed (tables -> floats -> Flexbox -> CSS grids), but to what advantage? A few of his points feel a bit like looking back at the "good 'ole days" through rose colored glasses, but his case is mostly well-reasoned and powerful. the foundations are now sufficiently complicated enough on their own that it seems foolish to go add more optional complexity on top of it. I’ve kept my examples to the most basic of web implementations, and I haven’t touched on Javascript, animation, libraries, frameworks, pre-processors, package managers, automation, testing, or deployment. Whew. Whew, indeed! The breadth and depth of knowledge required to feel competent in today's web ecosystem is probably why we spend so much time dealing with imposter syndrome in this industry.

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Rico Sta. Cruz Avatar The Changelog #283

Devhints - TL;DR for Developer Documentation

Rico Sta. Cruz joined us to talk about his project Devhints — cheatsheets for developers! There are more than 365 cheatsheets you can contribute to and it's open source. We talked about the design, technical implementation, community, and alternate interfaces (CLI). We also covered RSJS, RSCSS, and Docpress. You have to sell what it is you're building in your documentation. It's not just describing what it is and how to use it. It's about telling interesting stories. — Rico Sta. Cruz

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Practices Icon www.pagerduty.com

Why write postmortems?

Postmortems are a healthy exercise to do after an incident to learn the specifics of why it happened and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again. A good report captures the risks of current services, and helps Product and Engineering to more proactively prioritize work on services. Someone from outside your team should be able to read your postmortem report and answer these five questions...

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TODO Group Icon TODO Group

A guide to shutting down an open source project

The TODO Group published a set of guides last year focused on open source program management. This year, they kicked things off with an initial guide about how your org and team can plan for the day when you're ready to end or move away from an open source project. This guide covers the gamut of concerns around shutting things down: Why life cycle planning is important What does a dead open source project look like? Trouble signs to watch for Why plan for the end of a project before you even launch it? Protecting your company’s reputation Of course, all of the TODO Group guides are open source on GitHub. We talked about the TODO Group with Will Norris from Google on The Changelog #245.

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Practices Icon soveran.com

Popularity

This is an incredibly insightful piece the difference between popularity and quality in software development. In software development, a lot of people pick the most popular tool that can solve a given problem. Popularity is measurable: you can check the number of downloads, the number of stars, the questions and answers all over the web. Quality, on the other hand, is hard to measure... An anecdote of a CTO trying to navigate tool selection with his development team is provided, and while his choice is out of the ordinary, the response from the peanut gallery is not. Read the whole thing (it's short), but here's a snippet of the author's takeaway: we should be extremely cautious about taking what is popular for what is good, and conversely we should not disregard something just because it didn't gather enough stars. This reminds me of the excellent conversation we had with Ozan Onay on episode #260 of The Changelog, where he encouraged developers everywhere to DYOR.

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Practices Icon docusaurus.io

Introducing Docusaurus

Facebook announced Docusaurus to more easily maintain open source documentation websites. We created Docusaurus for the following reasons: To put the focus on writing good documentation instead of worrying about the infrastructure of a website. To provide features that many of our open source websites need like blog support, search and versioning. To make it easy to push updates, new features, and bug fixes to everyone all at once. And, finally, to provide a consistent look and feel across our all our open source projects.

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