Why Ask a Developer?

We love learning about individual developers! But it can be misleading to rely too much on anecdotal evidence. That’s why we also use data like that collected by Evans Data Corporation, SlashData, and our own surveys. However, running an idea, question or assumption by a member of the audience (MOA) can still add value. In this case, our MOAs are your audience, too — developers and other IT professionals.

While there may be as many answers as there are developers, often interesting trends as well as hard-to-find nuances emerge. Unsurprisingly, stories told at a human scale often appear as overarching themes or trends at a population scale. That’s why we asked celebrity developer and Twitch Live Coder Jeffrey Fritz to ask fellow developers some of the questions technical content marketers most want answered.

Meet Erik Guzman

Fritz caught up with Erik Guzman, a fellow Live Coder team member on Twitch. Guzman streams web development, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, React, View, and Angular.

What kind of topics do you look for that would help you advance your knowledge in those languages, those technologies? What things are you looking to read more about?

So, I have a multi-pronged approach to it. One is, I’m lucky enough to have a Safari Books online subscription. It’s a little bit pricey, but I got grandfathered into a 50% discount, so sometimes I’ll go on Safari Books, try to read some traditional educational books, and peruse through those and try to absorb some information. Another avenue is blogs. So I go out and seek blog posts on the content.[I use] YouTube channels — So I follow a lot of different coding YouTube channels, and I try to absorb and watch videos that way. Also, I use Twitter, [but] not as specifically a social media platform. I use it as a source to gain more knowledge. I try to follow more tech-related influencers in those spaces to find out what they’re thinking, what they’re promoting, [and] to find new and interesting articles and ways to channel that information and learn something new.

Are there topics that you’re specifically looking for? Are you looking for things about machine learning, or AI or web development? What topics around the languages and those core technologies that you’re interested in are you looking for more information about?

A lot of the time I try to focus on best practices and clean coding mindsets. I try to find new and innovative and clean ways to implement new ideas, or even old existing ideas. I guess it does lean towards the web development side of things because that’s what I know. It’s more difficult to try to read an article and absorb that information when it has to do with game development or machine learning.

What makes that type of content— a how-to, what makes that more effective for you when you’re reading it?

So, a clean example. One of the things is clean examples and very clear explanations of what the current problem set is — or presenting the problem, presenting the challenge,then detailing why it is a problem in the first place. A lot of articles usually just say, hey, Here’s a problem, here’s a solution. But something that goes into further detail of, Why is this a problem? 

For example, why is using one method to look through an array very inefficient versus using some other method, and then going into detail and then showing a solution. Then, maybe even talking about benchmarks. That’s usually more to ask for, but at  least — problem, explanation and solution.

What makes that piece of content, that blog, that how-to, what makes that appear more developer friendly for you?

The first thing is just coding examples. Clear, concise, and not just snippets. You can show snippets, but then actually linking to a GitHub page or a Gist or Code Sandbox, one of those other utilities that lets you show examples. So you can actually see the code and play with it.

That’s what makes it very effective for myself as a programmer, and also just —I’m biased to this, but––just plain language. Don’t get too fancy with the way you’re explaining it and use high-level words. Explain it in plain English, don’t ever assume that the reader is of an extremely technical mindset. Always assume that you are writing for a beginner.

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When you talk about Code Sandbox, you’re talking about a tool where you can actually run the code live in the browser, right? Can you talk more about that?

Yeah. So Code Sandbox is an actual website you can visit that you can actually build web applications on, so you can create a React app. You can make a website without having to install anything on your computer. So the Code Sandbox is one, also CodePen.

Removing the need to actually install any of these dependencies, anyone that’s on a Windows, Mac, on an iPad, could link, see these examples and run them and even play with the code.

When you do look at other websites and blogs, what makes a great blog? Who has a great blog out there that you enjoy reading and what makes it great for you? Is it just the content they have? Is it high-quality? Or is there something else going on there?

A good blog that was fairly new and really nice was actually Dan Abrams’. He created a React blog. First of all, his site is interesting too, because he’s basically using his website itself as a playground for building new React stuff, and testing out ideas. Then he uses it to blog and talk about new concepts or React, and talks about why. It’s not just about the code, but also about the reasons why certain things were created the way they were.

Also, a little bit on a personal note, there was a great blog post he did about the things that he doesn’t know. These influencers, you always think about [how] they know everything. How do they know so much? And you think they’re the smartest people in the world. Dan Abrams, he’s one of the creators of React! But he has a blog post talking about everything he doesn’t know.

I think what makes genuinely good content is language that is plain, simple, and about challenging content.

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I’ve tried to do that content before. It’s very challenging to just naturally talk about complex topics and bring it down to a very simple conversational-style blog post.

Learn More

View Erik Guzman’s full interview here. Have a burning question? Feel free to submit your question and get a chance to Ask a Developer!