Random thoughs about software development

It has been a long journey….

This is the 20th post on my blog and it’s a special one - this is the last required post in the “Daj sie poznać” / “GetNoticed” blogging contest organized by Maciej Aniserowicz.

The idea is to create 2 blog posts weekly and develop an open source project simultaneously. One blog has to be on the project and the second can be about IT in general.

My project is called Shyshka and is a tool that helps you learn a foreign language. It’s written in a web framework called Hanami which I’ve never used before.

It wasn’t all that easy

This is my first blog, I’ve never published anything online and although it was a great adventure I’ve encountered some difficulties along the way.

The first one is pretty obvious - I’ve never blogged to I’ve struggled sometimes with writing my content. The biggest challenge was to plan how much time will I need to finish every article - very often I planned to finish an article within an hour and I ended up spending half of a day working on an article.

Another difficulty was to predict how long the article will be - I usually had an idea what I would like to write about and after starting writing, it was turning out that there is so many subjects I want to include that the text will be very long.

Another big challenge was to start writing in English. It would be definitely easier to start blogging in Polish. So why I’ve decided to start blogging in English? There are 2 main reasons:

  • I started my project in a very niche technology and I was afraid that my potential audience will be too narrow if I started to blog in Polish
  • second reason is more selfish - I take every opportunity to improve my English and I knew it may be a great exercise for me.

Despite some drawbacks - like the pace of creating content, occasional frustration from inability to convey my thoughts clearly in foreign English and involving other people to check my text before publishing it - it turned out to be a great decision! I’m always super happy when I log into my Google Analytics account and I see that some people from Ukraine, Brazil or USA visited my blog. I wouldn’t be possible if I decided to blog in Polish.

Another difficulty was to actually find those additional hours in my schedule to sit down and develop the project and write content for my blog. It all boils down to prioritizing, so I had to put some things aside so I can focus on this blog. Like always, it turned out that lack of time is only an excuse and if you decide what is important, you always can find the way to do this. I still have a lot learn in the area of planning my blogging tasks, but I’m getting better with every single post I create.

Did I learn something?

I’ve learned A LOT during the last couple of weeks. One of the things I have discovered is that I actually really enjoy blogging. I like writing blog posts, I like thinking what should I write about and planning how my blog post should be structured. It’s a great fun and gives me a lot of pleasure.

Next thing I figured out was that I love sharing knowledge with other people. I always try to think if the content I present would be useful to the reader. Feeling that I can help someone learn something is very rewarding - and it’s probably the most important reason why I’ll stick to blogging.

Blogging also helped me be more disciplined and focused - taking into consideration my already busy schedule I had to plan ahead when I’ll be able to write a next blog post. When I planned it, I had to execute it - I was able to put aside laziness and get to work. As I was saying before - sometimes I wasn’t able to plan everything properly. In this cases, I had do pull an all-nighter once or twice, but the article was always on time - and it was very rewarding.

Preparing blog posts helped me also to familiarize with the subject I was writing about a lot better. When you try to describe something to someone else you often realize that in some places I don’t fully understand how things work - so it’s a great opportunity to iron out your own gaps in knowledge.

What would I have done differently?

In general, I’m very satisfied with my blogging experience so far. I don’t expect that everything I do in this area will be perfect. I’m a newbie in this game and I sometimes make rookie mistakes.

One of the things I should improve is preparing my articles before the final date I have to publish them. Usually, I was planning that I’ll write the article in one sitting - but very often it turned out that I have other ideas what this blog post should include or I had to read some more before creating a blog post. I was also waiting to the very last moment with writing those articles, which resulted in having to stay up very late or not including everything I wanted.

Next thing I could improve is related to open source project I work on. The mistake I was making is very similar to the one I mentioned above - I was planning to write the code and describe what I did in one sitting. I turned out to be very a naive approach. Sometimes I wasn’t able to make the application work or I did something but I knew it could be done better and in more elegant way. And since I was writing my project related blog posts as a tutorial, I didn’t want to share half-assed solutions.

The way I approach my project-related blog post is the next thing I probably would have done differently. I think that writing them in this way provides the biggest value to the readers - but taking into account my lack of experience in blogging, writing in a foreign language and working on a project in the technology I’m not familiar with I should have probably taken it easier. I had already a lot of challenges to overcome and I could make my life a little easier.

My plans for the future

The most important thing is - I’ll definitely still be blogging!

The “Daj sie poznać” / “GetNoticed” contest is coming to and end but I want to stay regular with creating content. My plan is that till the end of May I’ll stick to creating 2 posts weekly - one on the project and one about something IT-related, and after that, I’ll probably start blogging once a week. I’m planning to write longer and more in-depth blog posts. On the other hand, I plan to stick to my open source project, develop it and write about it on my blog - I’m just not sure if I’ll put here every single line I wrote. Maybe I’ll write about bigger features I introduced or about specific problems I solved.

I also plan to work on how my blog itself - I’ll the add section with categories and a mailing list. I also plan to promote this blog a little bit - I’ll reach to Hanami community hoping that they’ll find my articles useful. Promoting a blog is something I have exactly zero experience with, so I’m happy that I’ll have a chance to acquire a new set of skills.

The last thing I plan to do, and I hope I’ve been doing so far, is providing as much value to the readers as possible. This is the most important reason I have to keep this blog alive and if you find something valuable here, let me know. If you found something annoying here let me know as well - feedback would be appreciated. See you later :)

Written on May 21, 2017