What I Learned From Tulsa’s Web Developer Conference 200OK
June 7, 2019    |    APIs    |    Conferences    |    Developer Growth

This article is a collection of thoughts from my experience attending Tulsa’s Web Developer Conference 200Ok in 2019. I want to point out that all of the talks at the conference were interesting and helpful in there own way. This article will cover the parts I found most relevant.

There were three talks at the 200OK conference that stood out to me. The three talks were about having the growth mindset, writing useful APIs, and efficiency through kanban. I believe these three things are fundamental to being a good web developer. Let’s explore these areas briefly, one by one.


Have a Growth Mindset

The first talk I want to mention was a talk from Christine Seeman, a Software Engineer. Her talk was titled “Hack your brain — Ways to improve your thought processes.” This talk was excellent and included a meditation session which made it even better.

It is essential for web developers to have a growth mindset. Having a growth mindset means that you look at problems as learning opportunities. There is always something new to learn in web development because technology changes fast. The pace of technology can be overwhelming. Here are a couple of tips I learned from this talk about having a growth mindset.

1 Accept that you are not perfect

You need to be humble since you cannot possibly know everything. It is essential to accept that you are not perfect. Everyone wants to be the best at their job, but realize you cannot be an expert at everything.

2 Focus on the learning process, not the result

The result looks great, but the process of learning is more important. You need to figure out and understand how you learn best, to help yourself learn better and faster. There are tons of resources online in which you can find out how to learn better. Here is a free online course that explains techniques like spaced repetition, recall, and visualization to help you learn and retain information better: Learning How To Learn, https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn.


APIs Should Be Documented and Consistent

The second talk I want to mention was from Michele Titolo, a Lead Engineer. Her talk was titled **APIs: The good the bad the ugly.** She described a few things that make a good API. A good API has many characteristics, but the three aspects that stand out to me the most are consistency, semantic, and documented.

1 Documented

Web developers usually loath writing documentation, which is odd because they love consuming excellent documentation. Writing good documentation is just one part of being a good web developer. Helping others understand how to use your code is essential for that code base to survive and thrive. An API that isn’t documented will probably never be used because it is not easy to understand and API from just looking at code alone.

Good documentation of your API makes it better automatically by being more accessible. Here is a template I created for documenting a REST API as an example:

https://gist.github.com/rbk/c6d2e80c9f4830857cafa3d24e97e227

2 Consistent

Consistency of an API super important. Error codes, request payloads, and response types that are standardized make the API intuitive to use. One way to keep error codes standard is by following current API guidelines from Microsoft:

(Ironically they don’t always use this guide)

payload = {
    'error': {
        'code': 'InvalidParameter',
        'message': 'You sent the wrong parameter.'
    }
} 
return Response(payload, status=406)

Kanban is All About Flow Efficiency

The last talk I want to mention was from Paul Gower. His talk was titled “Overcoming Delay — How The Best Devs Increase Productivity”.

I have heard the word Kanban, but I thought it meant moving todos from column to column. This talk opened my eyes to the world of Kanban. Kanban is essentially about efficiency.

1 Flow Efficiency

Kanban is not magic; it is a process to increase productivity. The basic concept can be examined in “ Little’s Law. “ The output stream is greater or equal to the input stream of work. This means having a stream of production move through an organization is imperative to satisfy customers on the other end of the production line to grow the business.

2 WIP (Work in progress)

Kanban increases efficiency with the use of controlling WIP (Work in Progress). This control is intended to keep a team from being overwhelmed with too much work like emails, questions, and tasks, etc that could decrease individual productivity.

Conclusion

Tulsa’s 200OK Web Developer Conference is always a blast to attend. The conference always supplies me with relevant information that I can use in my day to day career as a Web Developer. I hope you found some of these tips and bits useful. Thanks for reading.

BONUS: Notes from the conference.

  • Being a developer is not about money; it’s about solving problems.
  • Developers need to be disciplined to finish projects.
  • Algorithms and programming are two ways to express the same solution to a problem.

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