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Cover image for A Beginner's Guide to Dev.to

A Beginner's Guide to Dev.to

aspittel profile image Ali Spittel ・7 min read

So, last week was my one year anniversary on Dev.to (and I also hit 10,000 followers 🎉), so I wanted to write a thank you post. That being said, as a teacher, I thought the best way to do that would be to create an introductory guide to Dev.to and how and why you should get involved with the community!

What is Dev.to

According to the about page, Dev.to is:

Where programmers share ideas and help each other grow. It is an online community for sharing and discovering great ideas, having debates, and making friends. Anyone can share articles, questions, discussions, etc. as long as they have the rights to the words they are sharing. Cross-posting from your own blog is welcome.

I also really appreciate the conference analogy, since dev.to encourages idea sharing and discussion in a more respectful way than a lot of other developer sites.

It's a great place for discussing developer topics and creating blog posts!

Why I love Dev.to

There are a lot of reasons why I use Dev.to as my primary blogging platform, even after trying some other platforms, and I want to share why:

The People

First off, it has a great community of people to discuss topics with -- the comments are usually super constructive and you can learn a lot from them! I've met so many cool people on here!

Code of Conduct

One of the biggest pro's of the Dev.to community is the strong code of conduct that is well enforced. Sites like HackerNews and Reddit can devolve into toxicity pretty quickly, which can make it hard to post there. The more constructive community and moderation of comments here makes me a lot more comfortable posting!

Readership

The smaller community, the front page algorithm, and the huge @ThePracticalDev Twitter account make it a lot easier to gain readers for your blog posts. When I was starting to write technical posts, I wrote on Medium and I had next to zero readers. My posts got a lot more views pretty immediately after moving over to Dev.to, and that really motivates me to write!

Ads

Ads are a really interesting ethical problem right now -- from shady undisclosed influencer marketing to using personal data for ad targeting. I really appreciate Dev.to's transparent and opt-outable sponsorship and membership model.

Open Source

Dev.to is open source which allows for more community involvement and transparency. You can see the front page algorithm in the code, for example.

Accessible leadership

Ben, Jess, and Peter are active members of the site, and they are super responsive members of the community. I think that's really cool and leads to a really transparent and constantly improving site.

#SheCoded

Every year on International Women's Day, Dev.to hosts #SheCoded, where stories from women and non-binary people in tech take over the home page for the day!

Key Features

Posts

Posts are the base feature of dev.to, they can take a traditional format like a normal blog post, but they can also be used for discussion threads, AMAs, or for hosting content of other media formats, like videos or podcasts. You can change to the help tab to see more about the Dev.to markdown and how to embed other media into your posts, like CodePens or YouTube videos. You can also read more about the frontmatter, which contains the metadata about your post, like tagging, the cover image, and a canonical url if you are crossposting.

Home Feed

The home feed displays popular, recent posts that are relevant to you. Posts from tags and people you follow will also be highlighted! There are also widgets that display posts with certain tags. You can also switch to seeing the top posts from the week, month, year, infinity, or just see the latest posts as they come in!

Comments

These are responses to posts and can be threaded so that conversations can take place. They take Markdown formatting and you can use the same liquid templates that you can use in normal posts!

Tags

You can follow different tags depending on what you are interested in. then stories with those tags will be featured on your timeline. You can also click on a tag and view all the posts that belong to it!

Reactions

You can react to posts with any combination of ❤️, 🦄, and bookmark. The more reactions you give, the more it boosts the post on the front page.

reactions

The bookmark also has the added feature of adding it to the reading list, where you can save posts you would like to read later!

reading list

Talks

The community also hosts talks on different topics periodically. You can check this calendar to see what's coming up.

Merch

You can also get really cool stuff with the Dev logo on it! Stay tuned, it looks like there's more cool stuff coming soon!

RSS Feeds

If you would prefer to have your posts auto-imported instead of copying and pasting them over, you can set that up via the settings page.

Dev.to encourages crossposting, which is great for people who have their own blog or also want to post to Medium.

Performance

Dev.to is super fast, which is awesome: it makes for great user experience and it makes the site more accessible.

Offline page

Dev.to is also a progressive web app, which means that it has a page that shows up even if you're offline! You can even draw on it!

Top 7 (and reactions)

Each week, the 7 most popular posts are featured in an email blast and a post. It's a great way to read some posts that other people were loving in the past week! In addition, there's also a weekly post with the top five comments from the week!

Dan and Malik also started a podcast discussing these top posts, which is a must-listen -- they're super positive and have great takes on them!

Recurring Threads

There are a couple other threads that occur periodically. Each week, there is a post about open source projects looking for contributors:

There's a monthly post about who's hiring:

A periodic welcome thread for new users to introduce themselves:

And, there are weekly issues on the Dev.to codebase that you can help out with:

Profile

Each user has a profile that they can use to tell the community more about themselves (speaking of, I should really update mine!). You can also change whether you're looking for jobs or not! You also have links to your other code social media accounts and feature some GitHub repos.

Following users

When you follow a user, their posts are featured on your front page. Also, you will get notifications about their new posts.

Connect

The connect chat room is a newer feature. You can direct message people who you follow and who follow you back! You can get there by clicking the airplane icon in the nav bar.

iOS App

This is another more recent feature -- there's an iOS app for dev.to! Since it's also a progressive web app, you can also save it as an app on your phone on Android!

Mentorship

The mentorship matching program is a beta feature that allows members to mentor each other! I haven't had the bandwidth to participate, but you can sign up under Mentorship in your settings.

Mentorship in settings

Posts to start with

I wanted to share some of my favorite posts on Dev.to in order to inspire you to write, and just to give you some great things to read!

Advice



Opinion Pieces


Discuss


Tutorials


AMAs


Start Posting

Now that you know a little bit more about the community, start posting! Here's a bunch of posts on starting to blog. Or you can start by commenting on or asking questions on somebody else's post!

Thank you! ❤️

I just want to send out a big thank you to this community for the past year! It's been awesome to learn how to blog through using this platform, and I've grown so much from it. You all have been so supportive, and I've learned so much from people on here. Also, a huge shout out to the Dev Staff for creating such an awesome platform -- can't wait to keep seeing it grow!

Posted on by:

aspittel profile

Ali Spittel

@aspittel

Passionate about education, Python, JavaScript, and code art.

Discussion

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What a great post! I couldn't agree more. I've posted on Medium and have totaled about 100 reads across 9 articles and the only post to even get "applause" was one in which I was insanely sarcastic about the process of UI/UX design and how no customer will ever be happy with it (can be read here if insterested). And I felt that the applause was only because I poked fun at the life of a front end person from the view of a back end person. There wasn't really any tech discussion that happened, just complaining. Is that the only type of content people will pay attention to? I thought to myself? Not even because I have no followers there, no twitter followers, etc.

Then, I come to dev.to and start posting the same articles here as there and just broke 100 followers last night (woo!!) and have new people follow me every day. I don't think I could assemble a group of 100 colleagues from my 10 year career who would care enough to follow my blog posts, and they know me personally! The exposure to awesome people, the ability to learn and have discussions without trolling, and the moderation and "nip it in the bud" mentality of any trolling is superb. Every time I look at the profile of the moderators or Dev staff, their recent comments are full of "Hey, this is being mean and trollish. The comment was deleted. Keep it up and your account will be to". Which I love! I know some folks think that's censorship and "I should be able to speak my mind". But you can absolutely speak your mind, just be constructive. I feel like sites like Reddit and HackerNews either are afraid of backlash for that kind of moderation, or are too huge and understaffed to care. But these communities are filled with highly educated and brilliant people, both on the user and administrator side, has our experience and education never taught us to speak to each other with respect? Do these people talk to their team at standups or their customers at consultations? If so, just go ahead and be a black hat because being a helpful developer is reserved for professionals who can show some restraint and respect. I love that Dev seems to get that.

The comments are constructive, insightful, and the community of such diverse background that I can see my code from the cultural perspective of somebody in Russia, India, Pakistan, Japan, etc. How we live affects the way we think. How we think affects how we solve problems. Coding, at its core, is problem-solving so having this input is exceptional and getting it in a place where nobody is going to call me a "noob" or be passive-aggressive because they used a different library which is soooooooooo much better is wonderful.

Well, this is more of a rant than a comment so I'll end it here. But to reiterate, I agree and love this platform so far. Thank you, good night. mic drop credit of giphy.com

 

Awesome! Totally agree! :)

 

This is really super.

As creators/administrators/insiders, we struggle to see concreteness in our own work. Always stuck in the mindset of where something came from and where it's going, struggling to explain what they are.

 

I have to admit that posts like this (and communities like dev.to) have renewed a passion for my career. Time can sometimes make you jaded as you experience people of different kinds ruining what should otherwise be an amazing adventure. Thanks for writing this and thank you dev.to for facilitating this space.

 

Great intro to dev.to Ali! I recommend this site all the time to people, and it's great to see posts that support newcomers.

Also wanted to take the time to say thank you for sharing Dan and I's podcast, really means a lot that you enjoy it.

:)

 

Oh definitely! The podcast is an awesome feature, and a great way to hear more about posts!

 

Nice introduction! My project manager for my boot camp recommended me this site to read blog posts. Recently I started to post a few blogs and you get good exposure for your posts and seeing people liking it makes you want to write more.

 

Yes!! I recommend it to my students too! Blogging is so important!

 

I’ve just stumbled across Dev recently and the quality of the content and wisdom of the interactions stands out. Thanks for tipping me off about the reading list!

I like the direct access of Dev. With medium you have the necessity of befriending the gatekeeper publications and worrying if you’ll get published there. It’s inspired me to post more too!

 

It's a good short review and quick tutorial for how new comer using dev.to , like me. Thank you for posting this .

 

Thanks for writing this post Ali! Your post plus Arik's post about ways to make the most of dev.to really helped me with getting started as a newcomer. I actually shared Ben's post about performance with my team since it's something we're focused on currently with our own product.

 

Thanks for the shoutout, Ali :). I really like what you did here, I think it was perfectly timed. Malik and I have talked about how, as this community grows, it falls to the users to a) maintain the vibe and b) scale/creatively build on top of the great platform the team has given us, because at a certain point it needs to become self-sustaining if it’s to remain healthy. This strikes me as a great “onboarding” topic, because I think we’re getting to a point where users are about to start doing more and more interesting stuff, and it will be hard to surface without community involvement.

 

Dev.to is super fast, which is awesome: it makes for great user experience and it makes the site more accessible.

🤔

So, just taking a look at the network tab of this article...

196 requests 5.87 MB / 2.89 MB transferred Finish: 3.70 min

That's 196 individual HTTP requests to read a single article, requiring just under 6 MB of data in total.

Not to mention the two scripts that Firefox refused to load because content blocking is enabled by default in my browser.

One of my favourite things about Dev.to is its diversity of opinions and experiences, partly driven by its worldwide reach (as mentioned by @kaelscion ). I wonder how many more developers would be reached if the page was a few KBs big, made one or two requests to load, and ran no unnecessary scripts.

Page load is a diversity issue.

 

Well, I don't think the two things are mutually exclusive.

Dev.to is quite fast if you start to click around but it can always be better

It's also open source if you want to look into it ;-)

 

Thank you for this great post, Ali and this great introduction to the universe of the DEV community. I only joined at the beginning of the month, but I already have a feeling that I have found the right community for me. Now I just need to jump the last hurdle and start posting myself

 

Really I hope more and more people and companies discover this amazing place.

There is no place like 127.0.0.1 Dev.to

And this excellent post will be useful to reach this target.

 

Hi Ali, is it possible to have publications here just like publications in Medium, I mean, to let people submit their articles, then with some publication editors, let them either be published or rejected.
I'm assessing several options, and I've never have used dev.to
Thanks for your help
C.D

 

Beautiful article as you are! 300th heart goes to you! Couldn't agree with you more about medium stuff. 🤣🤣🤣 I'm the another one who migrated from medium.com. Thanks to your guide, I could import my previous my articles in medium.

 

Thanks for putting this together. Some of them are obvious but some are not so. I wonder why medium does not get similar engagement as dev. Is it simply because it is already too crowded. Will dev become similar to medium as it scales bigger?

Are there any new features/suggestions you would like to see?

 

I have some questions: Are the live events recorded somehow? How can I opt-out for the „Who is looking for Opensource contributors“ newsletter?

 

Hi Ikem, you most likely received the 'who is looking for open source contributors' email as part of the dev digest.

You can opt-out of that by visiting /settings/notifications and unchecking Send me a periodic digest of top posts from my tags. Keep mind, this digest sends different articles so it won't always be about open source projects.

 

Yes! #DevLive for the events! @ben @jess @peter may be able to answer the newsletter one better -- I don't get that email!

 

I think this being a smaller community makes it easier to post and get a discussion going, I'll probably be making my first post later tonight (like 4 in the morning knowing me).

 

Can we sticky this? :)
Nice write up Ali.S

 

What a great post so on point! 👌

 

You can react to posts with any combination of ❤️, 🦄, and bookmark.

Not sure what the choice ❤️ vs 🦄 means :)

 

Just do both if you really like the post!

 

This was awesome! I have just moved over here from Medium with the hopes of really ramping up my article posting. This guide helped me understand some of the benefits of dev.to, so thank you!

 

Thank you for the shoutout, Ali <3 <3

 

I think this is a great introduction. This is my first time at dev.to just because I saw your tweet! Hope to navigate the site during my free time.

 

Awesome! Yay!

 

Surely going to refer to this article at some point in the future in one of my comments :D

Thanks Ali

 

So, this article is going to be suggested to all new users, right @ben , @jess , and @peter ? :P

 

Amazing post, ended up reading a few things from here, and quickly decided to join, seeing this made me happy to see how healthy this community is
Looking forward to be a part of it

 

Can I translate this article to Japanese?

 

I'm okay with it as long as you link back to the original with attribution!

 

This is such a great post!
I love the mentorship piece, but do not see it under my Settings - is it no longer available?

 
 

Thank you so much for the post Ali, very helpful as a dev.to new member! I have a quick question - where can I subscribe to the weekly newsletter to get the top posts of the week?