Dev Retro 2022

Dev Retro 2022

Reflection on My Blogging and Developer Journey


7 min read

Introduction 🎬

When I read the Dev Retro announcement in Hashnode's Townhall and how it was an opportunity to "reflect on your journey as a developer and share your experiences from the past year", I was super excited because I had been waffling on writing a reflection blog post and this was the catalyst I needed.

With the hustle and bustle of life, I think it's very important to pause and take the time to look back to appreciate all that was accomplished and experienced throughout the year. Although this post will be a personal recollection of thoughts and milestones, I hope this article will encourage you to take the time to write a retrospective of your own πŸ™‚

Without further ado, here goes the 2022 rendition of my developer retrospective!

Guest Writing ✍🏽

Hands down, guest writing has been my biggest objective this year. Since I had a solid year of publishing regularly under my belt, I figured it was time to try and venture out into writing for some of the top tech publications.

It all started with my first-ever guest post with Smashing Magazine last December where I wrote about a niche topic: "Creating A Custom Range Input That Looks Consistent Across All Browsers". From there, I went on to write for DigitalOcean in May on "How To Test a React App with Jest and React Testing Library". Last but not least, I wrote an article for LogRocket in October on "Building a design system with Radix".

In addition to writing for three different tech publications, I've also written guides for a form backend service called Basin, and will soon have a tutorial published for a popular open-source project. That makes the total tally for guest writing to 5 companies. Out of those 5, I only applied for writing opportunities with Smashing Magazine and DigitalOcean. The remainder of the opportunities all presented themselves due to my prior writing history.

Experiencing these different writing opportunities has taught me that the process can be pretty extensive because you have to adhere to the tone and style guide of the individual company. In addition, you typically need to have an accompanying project that shows how to use a certain aspect of technology so the planning and creating process of all that takes quite a bit of time. Except for the guides I wrote for Basin, I would say that every article I've written for a tech publication has taken a minimum of ~20 hours each 🀯

Overall, I'm extremely appreciative of these guest writing opportunities as I've learned a lot throughout the process and have gained confidence in myself as a technical writer.

Cover photos for the three articles written for tech publications

Personal Blog πŸ“œ

Because my primary focus was on guest writing, the frequency at which I was posting on my blog took a bit of a dip. Even though I would've liked to have posted more personal content, I'm ok with this statistic because it was an opportunity cost and I think it was worth it. Although the total quantity of articles published may have been less than I originally wanted, the quality of the content within the articles I did publish was high so I'm pleased with the outcome.

Stats and Analytics πŸ“Š

Hashnode advanced analytics view for this year

Hashnode's "Advanced Analytics" view for this year

Work Life 🏦

July marked my first full year working as a Senior Software Engineer and I can finally say that I feel (fairly) comfortable with that title. Imposter Syndrome is something that I struggle with and when I initially got hired as a Senior Engineer I was worried I wouldn't be able to live up to the job requirements. Thankfully, I work for a company that cultivates an encouraging and supportive culture so it has been a great place to work as I have been getting my bearings in my new senior role.

Lessons Learned πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸŽ“

I find I'm happiest in my job when I'm continually learning new things and being intellectually challenged. Based on that here are some of the top things I learned throughout the year:

  • I learned that my accessibility fundamentals are pretty solid. I worked on a ticket and inadvertently identified areas where we could add some accessibility improvements to our app's workflow.

  • I found a use case for the useReducer hook when dealing with more complex state management while implementing an autocomplete search feature.

  • Scheduled meetings with a Principal Engineer on the team to learn more about authentication and authorization. Since I work primarily as a Front-End Engineer, these meetings have sort of turned into a mentorship as I look to gain a larger breadth of knowledge about general backend architecture topics.

  • Currently, working on building a component library for a reports service and I've learned a plethora of things including but not limited to:

  • Compound Components in React. This is a really cool pattern as it allows for more rendering flexibility and extensibility. It's definitely a pattern I might want to try and leverage more in the future.

Side Projects πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸ’»

The main side project I completed this year was my RoadTrip.FM πŸš— πŸ“» project for the Netlify x Hashnode Hackathon. Building this app was a lot of fun as it's something I've wanted to build for years. RoadTrip.FM was the first full-stack app I'd ever built and I learned a lot along the way. Ironically, I've found that the hackathon timelines apply a healthy pressure that gives me the extra boost to finally bring my project ideas to fruition.

Although not an official side project, I also participated in Hacktoberfest for the second year in a row so that was nice to be able to contribute to the open-source community.

All my other side projects were demos that I used within my guest writing posts. This included Doggy Directory which is a sample app for my DigitalOcean article on React Testing Library and my sample Radix component library that I built for my LogRocket article.

Oh! I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that building LEGO has been a new "side project" for me. I know this doesn't technically meet the criteria for a development side project but it's close enough and I needed some excuse to integrate my recent LEGO obsession hobby πŸ˜†

LEGO Sonic the Hedgehog build

LEGO Sonic the Hedgehog build

Aspirations for 2023 πŸ†•

As I prepare to wrap up 2022, I've already begun thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2023. I think it's important to have a healthy drive for what you want to attain in the future. I don't expect to complete all these items, but here's a list of some goals I would like to achieve next year:

  • Create a course πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸ« - Component Libraries and Accessibility are two things I'm very passionate about so it would be exciting to try and create a course that combined both topics. I've already pitched an outline to a company on this concept so stay tuned for more information πŸ‘€.

  • Start a newsletter πŸ—žοΈ - Technically, I already have a default newsletter setup within Hashnode, however, I think I'm ready for something more custom and tailored. I'm not sure what platform I will go with but my plans are to research options like Revue, ConvertKit, and Substack.

  • Start a podcast πŸŽ™οΈ - My sister and I have been talking about starting a podcast for a while now so maybe next year will finally be when we start one. My sister isn't technical so the topics we cover wouldn't be developer related but we're still ironing out the details on what the exact subject would be.

    • My ultimate goal is to create a technical podcast, however, I would need a co-host so until I find that person, this particular podcast will have to wait until a later time.
  • Develop more side projects - I have a large backlog of projects that I want to build but haven't had the time to work on. I hope that I can bring some of these ideas to fruition while still maintaining a regular writing schedule.

El Fin πŸ‘‹πŸ½

Thanks for taking the time to read about my journey in 2022. It was a fun experience to go back down memory lane and reflect on all the things I learned and accomplished throughout the year.

If you enjoy what you read, feel free to like this article or subscribe to my newsletter, where I write about programming and productivity tips.

As always, thank you for reading, and happy coding!