Well, this is really more like a half-year in review. I only started writing about .NET in July of this year.
Well, I actually started earlier than that but I scrapped the blog because I lost interest.
That actually happened a lot this year.
I desperately wanted to write about something I loved, but I didn’t know what that was.
I started looking for help:
“What am I best suited to write about?”
Sometimes the answer didn’t sound “fun” to me but I tried it anyway. I tried a few different topics, and narrowed it down to two.
Software development (.NET focus) and fitness.
I’ve always enjoyed building things with code. It has always been so gratifying to write lines of text and see beautiful shapes, animations, structures, computations, and colors all come to life on the screen. For a while I thought I was going to be an auto mechanic, but, being somewhat pressured by society to go to college, I tried a few majors and computer science stuck, and here I am five years into a career in software engineering.
When I first began my job using .NET and Visual Studio, I remember having a college arrogance, thinking Microsoft was lame and that only Linux and Open Source was the way to go. And when I was encouraged to write about it from a business teacher, I thought:
yuck, what a bore, I don’t even care about .NET”.
Come to find out, by writing about .NET, I grew to love it. There’s a great community here and .NET is rapidly moving in an exciting new direction. Microsoft has opened up to open source, .NET Core is cross-platform and is built carefully so that it works well with the variety of front end frameworks.
All the while, I have been on a strong upward spiral with my health and wellness. I really felt like I could help people out with everything I’ve learned over the years to finally get in the shape I wanted to be in (I’ve ALWAYS been uncomfortably overweight).
Some of you probably remember my domain MakingOutWith.NET. That’s where I started, but I also had miniml.ist/fitness going alongside it.
Recently I decided to say screw you to the advice I had been given about keeping a blog single topic. I brought the two blogs together to what it is today. If my fitness writing and videos don’t resonate with you, just don’t click that link :) and I say the same to the folks that read/watch my fitness videos. Most of them don’t give a hoot about code so they stay over there. I don’t think it’s a big deal.
I will however, be making one more change. Hopefully the last for a while. I will be removing the /code section and putting it all under a new /dev section. So there will be miniml.ist/dev and miniml.ist/fitness.
So, that’s where we are. Let’s talk about some of the fun stuff that appeared on the blog these past 6 months.
The two main themes were mindset and asp.net core.
I enjoy topics like mindset and self-improvement and these posts really help with some common developer worries:
How long until you’re a good developer? - We always want to know how we are doing as developers. We naturally want to be seen as competent and skilled engineers. I think if we forget about impressing our boss and accumulating LinkedIn skill tags and just focus on helping, we will get where we want to be.
When your skills feel outdated - Unfortunately for many of us, we may have stagnated on an old .NET platform for too long. In this post I go over what has helped me stay sharp.
Dealing with new project anxiety and No Man’s Land Features - This feeling happens to me all the time, and it’s natural, but it shouldn’t be crippling. Don’t panic, I have some steps you can take to get the weight off your shoulders.
Creating a personal developer mission to become change-resilient - Sometimes we think that in order to be good developers, we should learn and consume every new platform feature. With the change going on in the .NET world, this can be…well…too much. If you give yourself specific and concrete developer career goals, you can know that you’re on the right track and avoid wasting time learning things you’ll never use.
ASP.NET Core Posts
Then there was the infamous from-scratch asp.net core budgeting app. I had a lot of fun with this, and learned a TON. For one thing, I love asp.net core. The built-in dependency injection is dope, and the modularity and ability to keep things clean was great. A real joy to work with.
Entity Framework (briefly covered in Part 2) was…well… It was cool to have a database built for you with Code-First. But I think I now am of the opinion that you should be hands-on with your database schema. It’s really not that much work to learn and write SQL, and it will be good for you. If I were to do it again, I’d write the SQL myself and use Dapper on top of it.
AutoMapper has some pretty nifty tools to map your database entities to your DTOs en-masse, so check that out in Part 3.
By audience suggestion, I went with ReactJS for the front end (see Part 4 and Part 5). Also DOPE. If you haven’t used it, definitely give it a go. The one-way flow of data paradigm is nice to reason about and it, too, is easy to keep modular.
I went back and refactored the controllers in the budgeting app so that they no longer had a direct dependency on Entity Framework. It turns out there is a great reason to use the repository pattern. This post was fairly popular, I think because people don’t often show examples of the refactoring process. I’ll try to do more like this.
And finally, I did one post this year with a video. I recorded my face and a screencast of me writing some code. It was a good learning experience, but the topic was rather niche. I’d like to do more. I even bought a nice microphone!
Onward to 2017!
I think I’m at a good pace with one new post per week. Sometimes I don’t have a planned topic so I just pull something out of thin air but they have still turned out great. I plan to keep the same pace next year. I’m also doing one new video a week over at /fitness if you care to check it out. I think the style of fitness I’ve crafted works well for developers, especially if you work from home like I do.
But here is where I could use your help.
What have you enjoyed most and would like to see more of?
I try to predict what folks would like to read/learn about, and I balance that with what I’m currently working on at work to try and find a winning topic, but it matters to me most that I am writing something that provides value to YOU.