This January marked the start of my 19th year working at SiteCrafting, and in those years I’ve seen lots of things come and go as we’ve grown and adapted. One of the things that has had longevity is the monthly gathering of our development team to connect with each other.
These gatherings, now called Dev Discussions, originally started out as a chance to talk about what things we’d been working on, neat technologies that might be worth exploring, or problems that we wanted to talk through. As everyone was working on different projects and often flew solo, it gave us a chance to learn a little bit about what other developers were thinking about.
A few years ago we decided to take these Dev Discussion sessions in a little different direction and switch our focus to continuing education. That year, each member of our team gave a 15-20 minute presentation on a topic that was relevant or interesting to them, then led a discussion/Q&A session. We got to learn about things like building APIs with Swagger, end-to-end site testing with Cypress, creating animations using D3, how to approach refactoring a codebase, and what actually goes on under the hood with SVGs. Aside from needing to learn enough to be able to speak knowledgeably about a chosen topic, we also used this time to work on presentation and public speaking skills.
Last year we focused on three topic areas, split into teams, and let each team determine a topic within that area to explore. We stuck with the same topic for three months and wrapped up with a half-day workshop to put some of what was learned into practice. We covered Drupal, ReactJS, and some techniques developers can use to prepare for tackling their next project. Aside from needing to switch to an all-digital experience due to the pandemic, the team enjoyed diving a little deeper into the topics and being able to dedicate a chunk of time to our workshops.