A year of learning and sharing - Dev Retro 2022

Challenges and achievements of 2022
Published on Monday, January 2, 2023
Photo de Markus Winkler sur Unsplash

I usually do not take the time to reflect on my developer journey and look back over the past year. Yet, it's a shame because I miss the opportunity to:

  • remind me of the challenges I faced
  • remember what I have learned
  • see what I have accomplished
  • think about what I need to do next year to keep moving forward.

So let's start this 2022 retrospective.

Coming "back" to front-end development

During my career, I have mostly done back-end development, especially in recent years when I have been working on cloud projects. I was not totally unfamiliar with front-end development, but I preferred back-end development: thinking about cloud-native architectures speaks to me more than trying to center a div (don't be offended, I'm just kidding).

However, in October 2021 I joined a team working on a Vue.js web application (with an ASP.NET Core back-end) and have been working on it since. So I had to quickly learn Vue.js and upgrade my front-end skills (which were quite rusty) in 2022.

As someone used to C# language, and .NET libraries/tooling it was quite challenging to re-learn everything on the front-end. Hopefully, whether it's front-end or back-end, it is still a matter of software development therefore there are many similarities and some knowledge I already had. Yet, I learned a lot from my colleagues who were less experienced but had better front-end skills than me. It's a good reminder that wherever you are in your career, you always have things to learn from others, seniors as well as juniors.

And you know what? I loved learning Vue.js and I am now a big fan of this framework. I was quite amazed to see it's community driven and that despite its huge popularity there is no big company behind it (like Facebook for React or Google for Angular), but many people and companies sponsoring the framework contributors. I love the ecosystem around Vue.js and I am happy that there is such a great community (lots of contributors live in France by the way).

Even if I am far from being a Vue.js expert, I am proud to have brought some improvement ideas to the project I am working on (migrate to the composition API, migrate to Vite, add useful libraries like VueUse, ...). I am still not a CSS guru (and I guess I will never be) and I still prefer back-end development over front-end development. However, it's great to have a good understanding of both and be able to do both.

In my personal time, I took a look at the Nuxt framework (which is a meta-framework built on top of Vue.js) and the developer experience seems awesome. It's a framework I want to explore in 2023.

A step into the world of content creation

As a developer, it's nice to learn new things but it's even better to share them, not only with colleagues but also with other developers that could benefit from them. That is why I wanted to share with a broader audience what I had discovered at work or during my technology watch.

Social media

I already used blog articles to share my learnings but it takes me a lot of time to write an article and it's often on a specific topic. Sometimes I just want to share one little tip I learned or one article I found worth reading. So in 2022, I started sharing links, tips, and other things on social networks. I did that mostly on LinkedIn and Twitter, yet I recently spent some time on other platforms like Mastodon and Showwcase.

Here are what my posts look like:

To be honest it did not bring me a lot of followers on Twitter or LinkedIn. Especially when you see that some people succeed in building in 6 months a bigger audience that I would ever have 😃. Is it bad? Not really, I would be glad if I could have more followers so that it could bring more readers to my blog but it's not very important. However, I made some nice connections and I am happy to share my learning journey with the few people that are interested.

In addition to that, I learned a lot about content creation (for example how to schedule and publish the same content on multiple social media with tools like FeedHive). Will it be useful in my current role? I don't think so. Will it help me in a future role or job? I don't know, it might be. Anyway, it's always fun to learn new things.

I should probably tweet/toot/write more frequently in 2023, but it takes time so we will see.

Blog

Writing on social media did not prevent me from writing on my blog. I wrote 15 articles in 2022, it's less than in 2021 (19 articles) but it's fine: I am happy with the articles I wrote. I am also happy to see that my blog's traffic grew:

  • 28K users vs 12K
  • 37K pages seen vs 18K

Here are the most read articles on my blog in 2022 (without taking into account other websites on which I cross-post them):

  • AzureWebJobsStorage, the secret you don't need in your Function App
  • How to connect to an Azure SQL Database from C# using Azure AD
  • Why will I choose Pulumi over Terraform for my next project?
  • 4 tips about GitHub Actions environment variables and contexts
  • Handle token retrieval while querying an API

In 2022, I started submitting some of my articles on DZone and continued cross-posting all my articles on Hashnode and dev.to.

Views are great, nevertheless, what pleased me the most was seeing a few nice comments on my articles. When you know your articles helped someone or taught something to someone, it's the best achievement.

The topics I talked the most about in my articles this year were .NET, Azure, tooling, and Pulumi. I am a big fan of Pulumi, I found the technology great (even more after having used Terraform) so writing about it was nice. Thanks to these articles I have been invited to join the Puluminaries program (which recognizes members of the Pulumi community). It's amazing to see that blogging can lead to nice opportunities like that.

Blogging can also be rewarding when you participate in writeathons like the ones Hashnode organizes regularly. I am particularly glad to have participated in the "4 articles 4 weeks" writeathon and to have been part of the 5 top winners. It was the opportunity to:

  • write about non-technical topics
  • gain new followers
  • have a post featured on Hashnode for the 1st time
  • challenge me and publish 4 articles in 4 weeks
  • discover other blogs

In 2023, I plan to keep writing articles on my blog. I have a lot of ideas for articles, yet as a full-time developer and a dad of a 2 years old girl, it is often complicated to find time to write them. The problem is that creating an article (even on a topic I know) always involves a bit of search, and some effort to create the code samples. Furthermore, I am slow at writing. I hope to get better and faster at it. I think improving my use of PKM tools like Obsidian could help me with that.

Public speaking

Another way of sharing what you learn is public speaking.

In the past, I gave a few internal talks in my company (about C#, CI/CD, and IaC) and even gave a talk with a colleague about Azure IoT at a small conference organized by my company. However, participating in events organized by your company and mostly internal is not the same as speaking at a developer conference or another public event. That's why I am pleased to have succeeded in 2022 to give my first talk at a developer conference.

I was a speaker at Cloud Ouest, which took place online in June 2022. I did a talk called "Infrastructure as Code or Infrastructure as Software". You can find the replay on YouTube (just so you know it's in French 😉).

I wish I could have given the same talk at other developer conferences (and especially in-person ones). Unfortunately, my proposals at different Call For Papers were not accepted. To be honest I found it challenging to become a speaker at a developer conference. First, you have to find a topic and prepare your talk without knowing if will ever be selected. Then you have to submit it to different CFPs hoping it will catch the attention of the selection committee which already receives lots of proposals, including some from well-known speakers. All that requires a bit of work and maybe for nothing.

Nevertheless, speaking at a developer conference is still a goal for 2023. Public speaking is something I want to do, something I want to be better at it, and the opportunity to meet nice people at events and chat with fellow developers. So I will keep submitting proposals to CFPs and see what will happen. I have a few topics in mind around .NET and Azure (which are my 2 fields of predilection) thus I should create new talk proposals. What bothers me a little is that there seem to be few conferences in France dedicated to .NET or Azure in France, but maybe I am not looking properly.

I almost forgot to mention than in 2022 I participated in a live debate "Pulumi vs Terraform" organized by Microsoft Tech Group France. It was recorded so you can find it here (again it's in French). It was the first time I was doing a live on YouTube like that and this is not an easy exercise. Because it was a debate, you have to be ready to improvise to counter-argue. It's very different from a talk where you know exactly what you are going to say and when. But it was fun and I am grateful to Microsoft Tech Group for giving me the opportunity to participate in this debate.

What's next?

I have already mentioned most of the things I want to do as a developer in 2023 but not all of them. So let's recap what are my plans for 2023 as a developer:

  • keep learning about Vue.js and Nuxt.js
  • explore Azure Container Apps and Dapr (I have already had a glimpse in 2022 but I want to know more)
  • keep writing articles on my blog about topics I am interested in
  • keep sharing links and tips on social networks
  • improve my use of PKM tools like Obsidian
  • give at least 1 talk at a developer conference

But above all, I want 2023 to be a year of learning and sharing as well. As I have said in one of my articles sharing is learning because when you share something you are consolidating your knowledge and continuing your learning journey. So enjoy 2023 and keep learning.