Keeping in the Development Loop
I was recently asked, “As an engineering manager, how do you keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the development world?”, which I thought was a really interesting topic and one that warranted further exploration.
First, do we accept the premise that managers need to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the development world? Honestly, I’m not sure we do need to be across the latest language features, framework versions and cloud provider offerings; we have engineers whom we trust to do this. That said, I spent most of my life as a developer and have always kept my hand in to some extent, as far as I can get from the critical path for the past few years, so I do want to keep in touch with that side of things. I like to be informed on what’s out there, even if it’s not strictly necessary, as I feel it’s a good way to prepare for conversations that may arise in the workplace. There are likely to be other valid approaches.
Mostly, I keep up-to-date by talking to the engineers on my team and by reviewing their pull requests but to keep up with what’s happening in the industry more generally, I like to read and to listen.
Here are some of the newsletters and podcasts to which I am subscribe, which have kept me informed over the past few years. As I’m in the process of changing employer (and technology stacks), this may change (or even just shrink).
I find email newsletters to be a pretty efficient way of consuming the headlines and diving into content of interest. It’s also great to be able to go back and search my mail archive when I know I’ve seen something relevant to a work conversation recently. These are the subscriptions that have served me well.
- Calibre Performance Newsletter
- Devops Weekly
- Last Week in AWS
- Ruby Weekly
- SRE Weekly
- Speedshop Ruby Performance Newsletter
I also miss cron.weekly.
Podcasts require more time investment and I go through phases of bingeing technical podcasts and then eschewing them altogether to focus on other areas of interest. For what it’s worth, “wherever you get your podcasts from” for me is Overcast as I really like the way I can organise my subscriptions and how I can control the playback speed.
The only technical podcast I keep coming back to is Maintainable. Maintainability is possibly the most critical of all quality attributes as it can underpin so many others. I’m a fan of the simple, predictable format of this podcast and have recommended more episodes of podcast than any other podcast (technical or otherwise) than any other.
Over the years I have dipped in and out of The Bike Shed and have got a whole bunch of great technical tips from it, so it warrants a mention here, even though I’ve not listened to it for a while.