The biggest improvements this year will probably be a lot of small ones. As the base of knowledge on the site increases, the impact we can make with enhancements to navigation and search increases with it. As we've begun proving out the basic usefulness of the platform, we can turn more of our energy towards improving the tools for creating and improving on content, both independently and collaboratively. We have the momentum and stability to devote energy to a lot of focused improvements that will derive big value for everyone.
When I talk about value, it's a few different things. The DEV Community is a knowledge-driven resource for great software development and career growth, but it's also a compassion-driven space for personal discovery and friendship. These are two different things, but they're also kind of the same thing. Personal and professional growth go hand in hand in an industry like ours.
Software development is not a rote, follow-the-rules craft. When a system goes offline, we work out the repercussions together. When a library is out of date or vulnerable, we collaborate on the solution. When libraries evolve, we bicker over the API. Keeping up-to-date is not an effort in reading the manual when it comes out. It's a complicated system of rules, implicit expectations, and hoping for the best. Despite all of these joint efforts, the life of a software developer can also be tremendously isolating. The burden of the unknown unknown can be soul-crushing at times. Combing through stack traces in order to debug a system that was supposed to be shipped yesterday can be an unforgiving task. We sometimes get help on these things and sometimes we're on our own. That's the nature of this profession.
This is not the part where I announce our big new product that is going to make these challenges go away, but January is a great month for discussing and reflecting on our greater purpose and goals. To us, it still seems like pouring our energy into cultivating a human-centered knowledge-share platform for software developers is a tremendously worthwhile endeavor. Hopefully that will still be the case next January.
If you've been following along you'll know that we went full-time in early 2017 with this business and have been chugging along ever since. We currently employ five full-time staff members including the three founders, one apprentice, and one part-time temp and we have a cozy office in New York City. We have been operating to this point on a small investment.
In order to continue sustaining the platform, we have two forthcoming initiatives: company sponsorships, and a membership plan.
First, the sponsors: We will be collaborating with a select group of companies to act as sponsors of our efforts. We are thinking of these as similar to conference sponsorships, as we'd like to build a few great relationships with premier community benefactors rather than transactionally selling real estate throughout the site. Sponsors are going to get thanks and acknowledgement under the Key Links section of the home page and periodic recognition from the founders in letters like this one. We’re committed to rolling out sponsorships in the most member-friendly way possible, so we’ll be giving everyone the choice to opt-out of seeing sponsor information where it’s practical to do so if they so choose.
The membership: We will also be offering a pay-what-you-can opportunity for individuals to contribute to the sustainability of the platform. Members paying as little as a dollar will have access to a few new features that are not currently available. Over time, we’ll be adding more and more offerings that will add value and enrich the membership experience. The core dev.to experience will always be free, but we’re incredibly excited to begin developing awesome rewards for contributing members.
We will have more on both of these initiatives as they are released over the coming weeks. I’m happy to expand on this and answer your questions. We don't know how any of this will go quite yet, but we think these efforts will go a long way towards improving and sustaining our operation.
Two more things
Video: We shot some great videos recently and we will be releasing them soon. Here's a sneak peak at a series we produced with Vaidehi Joshi which builds on her brilliant BaseCS series on important computer science topics.
Open Source: We are also moving closer to open-sourcing the code for dev.to. Exposing the code to fresh air and many eyeballs is going to be watershed moment in this project.
I'm personally very excited for the opportunity to fill in a lot of personal unknown unknowns in terms of scaling a software system/company. I'm, of course, also very nervous. This whole project belongs to the community, and what a wonderful community it has been thus far. The next step in open sourcing the code will be inviting a few trusted members in to help audit the code. We’ll gradually grow this list until we feel confident in our approach and security so that we can peel back the curtain entirely.
Happy coding in 2018, thanks for the support ❤️
Top comments (29)
Open source!!! 🎉
Love the new design Improvements @ben . Excited! 💯
Can't wait to see all this awesomeness go down in 2018 ❤️
I think I speak for all of us when I say
On a more serious note, thanks for keeping this community open, kind, and interesting.
I just want to iterate how grateful we are for the community's support. It's been an absolute delight working on dev.to -- not because of the code but because of the positivity each member brings to our shared platform.
👍 for a low-cost option to support, the unemployed thank you. Speaking of if you need someone to do some QA I'm not busy at the moment. ;)
Btw, does this mean there's post collaboration? 🧐
This is the first time I see "[...] with [Person 2] and [Person 3]
It's currently an admin-only feature and it's not really general-purpose in its implementation. So no, but in the future we'll have some stuff like this.
If you want to know where my head is at: I want us to add tooling for a sort of version control for posts, so great posts can be kept up to date and be more "timeless", the same way GitHub repos can be. But without the needs of all the features of version control like git, the UI can be a lot simpler.
Stack Overflow and Wikipedia, etc. have concepts like this too. I think it's an important eventual feature for the dev.to knowledge-base evolution. We want the original author to maintain full authorship and ownership of the post, but if it can be improved or have any of the code updated, it will be good for the long run. Some posts make sense to be updated, some it makes sense for them to be maintained as a capsule in time. These are all things to think about as we evolve.
This sounds awesome!
Is there a way to set up a scholarship kind of thing that those of us who can and want to could add an extra buck or two to our memberships, so that those who can't afford it could get one? I'm not sure how it would work, but I know that I've taken advantage of similar stuff in the past on the receiving end, and always look for spaces where I can return the favor!
Oh, I failed to mention that. Yes, we intend to offer scholarships for those who would like to take part in a tier they don't have the means for and the pay-what-you-can will have room for paying for extra that will contribute to this opportunity, but we are also going to contribute these operations with the help of the sponsors.
Great question and we're definitely thinking along the same lines.
got excited about the open source approaching... I'm not like, stalking your github but... I am.
Looking forward to that open sourcing, I would like to contribute!
Awesome site guys
I am excited for the open sourcing!
I'm so excited for another year of positive growth and maturation for the platform and community. Thanks for being here :)
I love this platform and how engaged the dev community is here.
Thanks for keeping this community open. Looking forward for all the awesomeness this 2018!
@ben I'm excited to see the success you've had over the past year, and I've enjoyed beginning to write on the platform :) Prior to this site there wasn't a place I felt comfortable sharing technical ideas, but the experience here has been super encouraging. On the open source front I'm curious - do you envision outside contributions to the codebase, or simply opening it up on a read-only basis.
Very excited! Thanks for the update Ben :)