14 of My Favorite Developer Blog Posts in 2018

In 2018, we focused on performance, mobile and how tough it can be to be (or become) a dev.

There was truly so much great content in 2018, it was hard to limit this list (thus why I ended up with 14 in a post originally intended for 10). In reviewing articles for this, some themes stuck out. 2018 was a year when developers seemed to focus on things like performance, making the transition to mobile (and specifically this was the year of the PWA) and, finally, making the often difficult choices about which technologies to focus on (especially when faced with so many options).

I went through a years worth of articles that I shared and picked out my favorites (listed in reverse chronological order). It goes without saying that they reflect my own biases as well as my personal focus on JavaScript and front-end development. If you have some time over the holidays, it’ll be well used to give any one of these posts a read.

All About Prefetching by Katie Hempenius

As I said, one of the focus this year seemed to be on improving performance, often as it relates to mobile. Katie Hempenius took a deep dive into how you can use a prefetching strategy to improve perceived performance. This is a great overview of a topic that is rarely covered.

Faster than AMP (author unidentified)

AMP was a topic of much controversy in 2018. However, what I love about this post is that it doesn’t offer another perspective on the same controversy, but, rather, digs into how AMP works (or doesn’t in some cases) to improve performance. The author (whose name I cannot find) promises more in this series, and I hope they follow through.

Elements To Ditch Or Repurpose On Mobile by Suzanne Scacca

By 2018, most sites have made a transition to mobile in one way or another, however, this is not always a smooth transition. Often sites have taken their desktop mindset and brought it - along with unusable desktop design elements - to their mobile site. This post covers some of the worst offenders and, better yet, offers strategies to fix them.

Reluctant Gatekeeping: The Problem With Full Stack by Heydon Pickering

This post stuck with me because it makes a similar case to one I have been making about the issues with the title “full stack developer.” Heydon focuses on the unintended consequences of accepting that one person can do all the things.

An Extensive Guide To Progressive Web Applications by Ankita Masand

2018 was definitely the year that everyone seemed to decide that they needed to take a closer look at building progressive web applications, driven largely by improved browser support for PWA features. There were a lot of PWA-focused tutorials in 2018, but Ankita’s was definitely one of the most extensive and helpful.

Making music with magenta.js by Monica Dinculescu

Soemtimes it is great to just build something because it is fun - it helps us reconnect with why we love to code in the first place. I also love reading posts when developers do these sorts of project because their passion for the idea comes through clearly. In this post, Monica Dinculescu experiments with generating music using machine learning. Will I use this is my day-to-day work? Unlikely. Was it fun to read and learn? Absolutely!

Methodologies for measuring project health by Nadia Eghbal

This is an extremely difficult topic that tackles an issue developers face - knowingly or not - on a consistent basis. That issue is whether a particular open source project is healthy enough to adopt and use. There are no easy answers, but Nadia Eghbal explores some options in this well-researched and detailed post.

The Bullshit Web by Nick Heer

Another performance-focused post that looks at the useless cruft we often include on web pages unthinkingly. Nick argues that this cruft has impaired the progress we have made with the power and speed of our hardware, and with little tangible benefit.

Leveling up: why developers need to be able to identify technologies with staying power (and how to do it) by Matt Biilmann

It can be difficult for a developer to know what to focus on for their long-term health of their career these days. There are not only so many options to choose from, but everyone is out there pushing their own agenda it seems. Matt, one of the founders of Netlify, offers a ton of excellent advice in this post on what to focus on and how to see it in the context of the bigger picture of the overall trajectory of your career and development as a coder.

A Guide to JavaScript Regular Expressions by Flavio Copes

I’m sure there are developers out there who love regular expressions. I am not one of them. RegEx is something that I often need and then need to look up. And if I ever need to look up anything related to RegEx in JavaScript, this is exactly the post I’d refer to. It is extensive, detailed and is the perfect reference guide to bookmark.

Loading Third-Party JavaScript by Addy Osmani and Arthur Evans

This is another performance-related (and security-related) post that gets at an issue many front-end developers face consistently: third-party scripts can be extremely helpful in providing added and necessary functionality, but they come with inherent risks. This post tries to help you mitigate those risks by measuring the impact of third-party scripts on your site and finding ways to offset the risks.

Everything Easy is Hard Again by Frank Chimero

If you’ve ever felt like things move so fast that it is difficult to keep up with the constant need to learn new skills necessary just to keep your head above water, then Frank Chimero’s post may strike a chord with you (as it did with me). He discusses how we’ve managed to make the simple things difficult in many cases, and made learning (and keeping up with( web development in the process. His message of developing a personal philosophy towards change and learning is an important one for developers of all skill levels.

Native And PWA: Choices, Not Challengers! by Aaron Gustafson

Things are often presented to developers as binary choices. You either learn web or native. You must learn Angular - and not React - to succeed or vice versa. The truth is that these rarely are as binary as they seem, and this is especially true when it comes to choosing PWA or app for mobile. You are free to choose which best suits the needs of what you are creating - or you are free to choose both. Aaron lays out the options nicely.

Advice to the newish programmer by Tom MacWright

Another post that discusses the difficulties of working in a fast-changing industry with a lot of competing demands (and voices) pushing you in a variety of directions. While Tom MacWright directs this post at “newish” programmers, it is an excellent reminder for any of us of the challenges we face (and maybe gets us thinking on how to address them).