I am writing this as part of a series of posts all about the benefits a developer gets from being a part of a developer community. I’ve personally put a lot into my own developer communities and I have gotten a tremendous amount out of it in return. In each of these posts, I’ll list a benefit of being involved in a developer community. If you aren’t involved yet, I hope you will be soon. I’ll list some ways to get involved below…
First, what is a developer community?
In most industries, people refer to their business network. The network is made up of connections that you build over time, get to know, and support. Often, developers say we belong to a developer “community” and I think that is such a nicer idea. A community cares about each other and a community helps each other.
Today’s Benefit: Confidence
A community can give you confidence
Earlier in my career I joined a local user group. As I continued to get more and more involved in the group, my focus was on sponsors and prizes for events. We were able to get so much free stuff to give a way so in those days my nickname was “Swag Man”. I was building a pretty good reputation for myself and I was speaking at a variety of user groups. I knew the local community leaders, I knew the speakers, and I knew the vendors/sponsors. My personal network was growing. I’d routinely hear comments like “When are you going to come work for me” and “If you are ever looking for a job, just give me a call.” Many of these people didn’t really know my skills as a developer. But they knew I was passionate. And they knew me because I showed up and I was there. Hearing these comments often, I was able to have confidence at work. Confidence to make hard choices sometimes and stick to my principles. The kind of confidence that let’s you think “I’m going to do this the right way” and “I can speak up and tell the boss when they are wrong” and things like that. And guess what? Most of the time, that paid off because I did things the right way and in the end, my employers appreciated it. But if I didn’t have confidence in my career, I probably would have played it safe.
Want to join a developer community?
Join your local developer meetup. You can find tons of them on meetup.com
A local meetup is a great place to learn and build your own network. Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to the people sitting next to you. Many people there are looking to network and build a community but they just don’t know how to do it. So take the first step. Say “Hi”. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. The speakers spend a lot of time prepping material to present and are happy to talk with you about it.
Join an online community – lots of the same benefits without leaving your chair!
The latest wave in the Developer Community: Live Streaming & Live Coding
While gamers have been streaming for a while, developers have recently realized that live streaming platforms are great for our kind of content too. The great part of Live Streaming is that the audience can really participate and join the conversation. Via the comments, viewers can ask questions, make suggestions, and even joke around with the host, all Live during the stream. This makes the stream very interactive and people actually get to know one another through participation. What makes Live Coding so interesting is that it tends to be unscripted. The sessions often end up like “paired programming” or even “group programming” with the viewers getting their ideas into the mix. While there are many developers doing live streaming, I am personally involved in two different projects
Schwammy Streams: Wednesdays at Noon Eastern Standard Time
Coding, Fun, and a Bit of Chaos
This is a solo project but I plan to invite guests on to code with me! I try to keep the show to about an hour since it is over lunch. I hope you will join me while we build this new, online, community together. On the stream, we are building some simple software but treating it like a professional project. It’s built with some of my favorite patterns, it has unit testing, DevOps, and more. In time it will get more and more features to demonstrate various frameworks and libraries. I even hope to have several UIs for the application so I can play with Angular, React, Vue, Blazor, and any other framework. The basic API is written with C# and ASP.NET Core.
To make it easier for viewers, I am streaming on 3 different platforms. Please join me on which ever you like:
The Dev Talk Show: Wednesdays at 8:30PM Eastern Standard Time (sometimes 9pm start)
Developers doing what developers do, recorded during a live stream.
This show is loads of fun. I cohost the show with my friends Chris Gomez and Rich Ross and we talk about all kinds of stuff that’s of interest to developers. We invite you to join our online community for conversations about anything from C# features to how to lead a dev team. We typically throw in demos and live coding too. We have guests from time to time and we love when viewers join in via the stream chat sharing their own opinions, questions and comments. We usually stream live from the Microsoft MTC in Malvern, PA where there is a really cool studio. And sometimes we are all remote.
We typically stream out on multiple platforms as well but occasionally (due to some technical limitations) only Mixer.
There are many great developer streams to choose from
If my style or content, isn’t right for you, find a stream that meets your needs. Search the web or ask your friends and peers which streams they like. Here are a few other recommendations: