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 When a library is out of date or vulnerable, we collaborate on the solution.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 ❤️