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Meg Hannon
Meg Hannon

Posted on

Advice for a solo developer?

After 1.5 years working on a small (2-3 dev) team, I am now the only developer and will likely be flying solo for a few months.

This is going to force me out of my comfort zone, as I'll have to move from being primarily backend to fullstack.

Any advice for how to thrive as a solo dev would be appreciated! :)

Top comments (2)

brickers profile image
Feargus Brickley

Having never been in your position, and your post doesn’t include a lot about your work setup, these are just my gut feels on what might help:

  • (de)prioritise: there’s no opportunity to reallocate resources flexibly, so you are going to need to identify what’s most important to work on right now. Plenty of articles out there about this but I always find urgent/important is useful, along with value vs effort. Be cutthroat.
  • work on minimising work in progress. The more there is the less you’ll get done overall, so focus on small, regular deliverables, moving at speed from ‘not started’ to ‘done’. Cut the fat from every task. In general, work started is much, much more important than work not started.
  • communicate with stakeholders: expectations, constraints, surprises, what you need from them, discoveries, successes, setbacks. People appreciate working with genuine, honest people. Hopefully you’re in a situation where you work with, not for.
  • be unavailable at times. You need to have hours of unbroken coding time

Hopefully this helps, doesn’t miss the mark or condescend too much! Good luck

dfockler profile image
Dan Fockler

I've been in this situation a few times, where I'm the only dev on a project. A few tips,

Be honest. You only have yourself to fool if you pretend that you know something when you don't. Instead be willing to learn and get comfortable reading a LOT! It might not feel productive but it's an important part of your job.

Congrats you are now the foremost expert on the project you are working on. Start to learn the pieces on a conceptual level so you can talk to people who don't know how it works. This will make things easier for you because you'll be able to speak intelligently about what you are working on and why code should or shouldn't change.

Ask for feedback. It's likely that you won't get any, but just asking is a signal to other people that you are open to communication and actively involved. Often when you are working on something alone it feels like other people don't care about what you are doing, combat that by speaking up for what you might need. Whether that's time or learning resources.

Have clear goals. It's easy to get sidetracked when you aren't working with another person. If you have a clear goal to shoot for it makes it much easier to focus and know what you are working for.

Good Luck! 😀