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My Favorite Professional Development Resources

meaganewaller profile image Meagan Waller Originally published at meaganwaller.com Updated on ・8 min read

I've been trying to be better about not getting stagnant in my career. However, I was feeling pretty burnt out in the tech industry for the past few years, and I took a big step back from growing and learning outside of work; this is okay, and you may be experiencing that currently. Come back to this post when you're ready to jump back in.

These lists are aimed mostly at mid-level software developers who focus on Ruby/Rails and at traditionally backend developers looking to transition to full-stack development/frontend development.

If you're looking for opportunities to grow and gain some new skills, please read on.

Courses & Video Content

These are a mix of paid and free courses and video content I've enjoyed or am excited to try out. Any of these I have purchased, I have paid for myself. No one is paying me to talk about these courses. I genuinely believe in them.

  1. Frontend Masters: Frontend Masters, in my opinion, is a must-have resource for anyone looking to gain a more profound knowledge of frontend development. These courses are great for a variety of skill levels, from junior developers to senior developers. Some of my favorite courses I've taken are: JavaScript: The Hard Parts, JavaScript: From Fundamentals to Functional JS, v2, and Deep JavaScript Foundations, v3. A monthly subscription starts at $39, or you can get a year-long subscription for $390. Frontend Masters frequently updates with new courses. This subscription is worth every penny.

  2. Upcase by thoughtbot: Upcase is the perfect platform for a junior Rails developer to gain experience. Lessons range from Test Driven Development, Vim, Advanced Rails Patterns, Refactoring, Git, and more. The best part is Upcase is free to use. However, I don't think they are updating or adding any new courses.

  3. Ruby Tapas: Ruby Tapas are short screencasts of "Gourmet Ruby" by Avdi Grimm. Subscribing to the service gives you access to the entire backlog, 650+ with new screencasts added weekly. Most are under 10 minutes, so they're a perfect way to start your day and get your brain going. Categories range from APIs and Libraries to Testing to Patterns and Anti-Patterns, and more. A monthly subscription starts at $18 a month or $180 a year.

  4. Flawless Ruby: Flawless Ruby is a course taught by Avdi Grimm. It's perfect for when you've learned Ruby and are wondering what comes next. It will make you a confident Ruby developer who understands Ruby's unique styles, idioms, and idiosyncrasies. This course is a one-time cost of $49.

  5. Master The Object-Oriented Mindset in Ruby and Rails: Master The Object-Oriented Mindset (MOOM) is a course taught by Avdi Grimm. It was initially an 8-week live course. This course will demystify object-oriented programming and help you learn object design thinking. It will do it all with technique demos and pair programming sessions where you'll see two expert Rails developers add features to a real-world Rails application discussing practical object-oriented design along the way. I'm still taking this course, and it's a big one! But it's worth it. There's a one-time cost of $299.

  6. Egghead.io: This is a new platform to me, but it looks super cool! There are many courses, mostly frontend focused, and the cool thing about them is that the video lessons are usually pretty quick and focused. Egghead is an excellent resource for a frontend developer looking to level up their skills or learn specific frameworks and libraries. Yearly membership is $250, or you can go month-to-month for $40/month.

Podcasts

I've only recently started to get into tech podcasts, so I only have a few recommendations here. I would love to hear your favorites.

  1. Ladybug Podcast: I recently stumbled on the Ladybug Podcast, and I adore it. It's a tech podcast hosted by three (four starting in season 5!) woman developers that focuses on professional development and frontend development. They've had some great guests, and I'm almost through the entire backlog. My favorite episodes so far are: Creating Digital Content, Junior to Senior Developer: Career Progression For Programmers, All About Technical Portfolios, and Side Project Balancing Act.

  2. The Rails with Jason Podcast: I've just started to listen to this podcast, but I like the in-depth technical discussions so far. I especially like the "How I'd Build It" episodes where Jason will interview a guest and ask them how they'd build a feature. I think they're great to listen to see how experienced developers approach and talk through requirements, solutions, pitfalls, and more. Check out this How I'd Build It Episode with Noah Gibbs on building a scheduling feature.

  3. JSParty: This is a fun panel-style podcast focused on JavaScript and the web! I'm new to this one and started listening because one of the co-hosts of the Ladybug Podcast is on their rotating panel. I enjoyed the discussions around How to design a great API, and career progression.

  4. Ruby on Rails Podcast: This podcast is about Ruby on Rails, open-source, and programming in general. Brittany Martin is the host and each week she conducts an interview and she and the guest have a pleasant conversation. I'm excited to dig more into this one. Each episode I've listened to I've enjoyed. The best part is that they're typically right around the 30-minute mark, so they're great for listening in the morning while you get your day started. My recommendations: Finance for Software Developers, and the interview with Jason Swett.

Books

These are technical books that I have personally read and enjoyed.

  1. Eloquent Ruby by Russ Olsen: Even though this book is a bit older (published in 2011), I still think it holds up. The focus is on how to write great Ruby code, not specific syntax or versions. This book remains relevant even for modern Ruby development. I reread this in 2020 and walked away with some new A-Ha moments.

  2. Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby by Sandy Metz: This book is a must-have for any Rubyist. I think it's excellent for novice Rubyists and advanced Rubyists who might need a better grasp on writing more manageable object-oriented Ruby code. I also reread this one in 2020, and it still definitely holds up.

  3. You Don't Know JS, Yet Series by Kyle Simpson: I loved the first edition of this series, and so far, the second edition has also been fantastic. Get a deep-dive into the core mechanisms of JavaScript. Each book focuses on a specific part of JavaScript. These books are open sourced on GitHub so that you can read them for free, but if you can afford to, it's worth it to buy and have a physical copy to put on your shelves.

  4. Testing Rails by thoughtbot: I bought this book when it initially launched and have been referencing it regularly ever since. The book is now available for free, as well as the companion GitHub repository. I think this book has some fantastic ideas about how to test a Rails application with tons of concrete examples and best practices.

  5. Rails 5 Test Prescriptions by Noel Rappin: This is another excellent book about how to test Rails applications. This book will help you write durable tests that exercise all parts of your application and to use popular testing libraries like RSpec, factory_bot and Cucumber. This a super-comprehensive book, and I also reference it regularly.

Blogs

I am a frequent reader of these blogs. Blogs are my biggest category, so I'm breaking these down into company and personal blogs.

Company Blogs

  1. Big Binary Blog: This is the blog to stay up to date on what's new in Rails. At work, we're about to upgrade to Rails 6, so their Rails 6.1 series is an incredible resource.

  2. Stitch Fix Technology Blog: I am always coming back to this blog. The posts are so well-done and informative, so it's just a joy to read. From interviews to nitty-gritty data science and algorithm posts, there is always something interesting to read.

  3. Thoughtbot Blog: I've been reading the thoughtbot blog since 2013. They write about various topics with a focus on Ruby, Rails, and team processes.

  4. Dev.to: Dev is a fantastic platform for developers. I follow many different tags that I'm interested in, and every morning when I visit, I've got a newsfeed full of posts. It seems like a fantastic community, and so far, I've treated it as fairly read-only, but I'm planning on posting and interacting more in the upcoming year.

Personal Blogs

  1. Ruby Yagi: Ruby, Rails, and Web Development blog posts. Updated pretty frequently.

  2. We Learn Code: We Learn Code is a blog by Ali Spittel, you'll find thorough articles about software development focusing mostly on the frontend, career advice, and beginner's guides. Plus it's just a super cute website.

  3. Ashlee M Boyer's Blog: Ashlee focuses on accessibility, disability, and mental health in the tech industry.

  4. Gift Egwuenu's Blog: Gift is a frontend engineer who blogs about professional development, Nuxt.js, D3, CSS, and more.

  5. Angie Jones' Blog: Angie Jones is a test automation and Java wizard, that's also the focus of her blog.

  6. Sarah Drasner: Sarah writes mostly on CSS-Tricks and the Netlify blog and is an expert in SVG and Vue.js.

Newsletters

I am a newsletter addict. If your blog offers a newsletter, I have signed up for it. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Cassidoo Newsletter: A weekly newsletter about tech, featuring an interview question of the week, corny jokes, and mechanical keyboard pics from time-to-time. I always read this one when it arrives in my inbox.

  2. JavaScript Weekly: A round-up of all things JavaScript from the previous week, articles, news, tools, and projects.

  3. Ruby Weekly: A round-up of all things Ruby from the previous week. I've found so many great libraries and blogs through this newsletter.

  4. Software Lead Weekly: This is a newsletter curated by Oren Ellenbogen, a round-up of articles about leadership, culture, and people in tech. I'm not a software lead (yet), but I enjoy this newsletter and the pieces that I've read from it.

Wrap Up

That's it for my favorite professional development resources. These lists are not exhaustive. I wish I could list every single resource I use and love, but I won't do that for the sake of trying to be somewhat concise. If I am missing some of your favorites or if you'd like more suggestions, please tweet at me and let me know.

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