5 Effective Methods of Staying up to Date in Computer Science
7 min read
Keeping up to date in Computer Science is overwhelming. There are no two ways about it. Either a new framework or library has just been released or a trendy programming paradigm has just emerged; most importantly you need to be the first to use it. Afterall, out of the hundreds of frameworks out there, this is the one that your employer needs you to use. 🚀
Staying up to date in the field is vital to success and productivity yet filtering out the technologies that look interesting vs the ones that’ll be worth-while can be difficult. Remember, there is no employer / institute that demands you have to stay-up-to date but you should definitely consider it:
- You Need To. I’m not naming any companies, but you know who I’m talking about. The trendiest places to work require you to know the emerging technologies. To clarify emerging (new) technologies aren’t 1-3 days or 1-3 months old but rather 1-3 years old, and in the world of software that’s relatively young. Remember, backend languages such as C++, Rust or even Pascal may not evolve as quickly as frontend technologies so “new” is relative to the sector your interested in.✨
- The technologies that thrive are the ones that will boost your productivity . There must be a reason why a new framework is receiving so much hype, its’ not just because of an immense start-up marketing strategy, but developers must actually love it. And as a developer the only thing that will make you fall for a new framework after just learning an ‘old’ one is because of increased productivity. More productivity = less time working = more time learning = more opportunities = more 💰.
- You want to learn . I’m not sure if your like all the full-stack devs out there who cannot wait to consume the latest byte of technology (pun intended), but some of us just love to learn new things every day.
Here are few ways to effectively stay up to date in Computer Science:
Become More Active in Online Forums ⚽️🏆
Forums such as Stack Overflow are golden nuggets for developers its’ a centralised platform that allows you to navigate between different ‘tags’ so you can explore as deep and wide as you want to about almost any technology. But Stack Overflow isn’t just for people answering your questions but rather an opportunity for you to help others. When browsing one of the current 21,566,693 questions (ATOW) questions on Stack Overflow pick one that interests you and try to provide a new / improved solution. You will soon be learning new things yourself as you try and solve the issue as well as helping others. Stack overflow also simulates a competitive environment in which the community votes on whether your solution is best. You could even say Stack Overflow is alike any other Computer Science preparation tool – only free.
- Yes, we may rely too much on Stack Overflow *
Of course, Stack Overflow isn’t the only forum site 😱. Use Reddit. Once you’ve signed up to an account, search for the subs with technologies your interested in and your Reddit homepage will highlight the best of these communities helping to bring only the ‘best’ to your attention.
Here are a few to get you started:
- r/WebDev is one of the largest subscribed subreddit concerning both frontend and backend technologies. The front page is repopulated with the latest news every day and the community is always active; so you can help or ask questions with an almost guaranteed response.
- r/Frontend has been created purely for our HTML & CSS lovers and you can post your work leaving it open for critique or simply admire the work of peers and gain inspiration. The advantage of having a smaller subreddit is that your questions are more likely to be seen instead of being quickly pushed down with the sheer amount of posts.
- r/AskProgramming well, its’ like the StackOverflow of reddit and purely dedicated to answering your questions, similarily to Stack Overflow you can answer questions and get all of the benefits I talked about above. 💪
Despite its immense cliché “the list goes on forever”.
Github Trending 📈
This is my favourite way to stay up-to-date, a completely non-biased system where the most popular technologies have been voted on by the community. Its’ a completely ad-less experience and allows you to filter by language and date. This helps you to identify what technologies you could be learning.
Newsletters provide an accurate curation of personalised topics that may interest you. Most blogs (for instance this one) allows you to sign up to a newsletter and provide another way to feed information straight into your inbox. Unfortunately, some newsletters do provide lost of spam but luckily you can always subscribe, if in doubt just subscribe to the good-old fashioned RSS feed.
Here are my favourites:
- Hashnode weekly update – my favourite way to join weekly developer discussions on the hottest topics in the industry, to get started just sign up here. I
- Hacker newsletter – a weekly breakdown of start-ups , libraries and disruptive technologies.
- Sitepoint specifically for web-design / development featuring a wide array of hand-picked articles.
- Github Explore - a newsletter which you control and is deployed weekly, daily or monthly providing you with the best open-source projects to contribute towards or use.
- Dev Tips - purely for Google Chrome DevTools but in the form of an animated GIF its’ brilliant for those who cannot spend hours poring over hundreds of articles to find a small nugget of information that is actually useful.
Talk to Your Colleagues 🗣️
There’s a high chance that your peers are also looking for the most recent technologies and how to stay ahead of the game. By sharing what you have found and talking about news in the industry generally, they’re likely to share what they have found- this could range from projects that they have been working on recently to their new favourite framework which they hope to implement very soon. Talking to people is the most underused way to educate yourself of the current technologies that are available and is also the most vital. Remember, this could be face-to-face over Slack or any other social channels that you have access too.
Podcasts are a more interactive medium of newsletters; they are testament to how important the subject is and you will be shocked with how many there are. They are also an awesome way of learning about tech on the go and can expose you to an array of new tools and concepts.
Here are some of my recommended
- SyntaxFM - Scott Tolinski was a break dancer and now developer who runs a YouTube channel – LevelUpTuts in conjunction with Wes Bos and they’ve hosted over 375 podcasts. Each episode features web development tips and tricks concerning HTML, CSS, JS and more.
- Laurence Bradford’s Learn To Code with me features an array of self-taught developers and how they transitioned from a previous job into computer science. The episodes cover a wide range of topics from finding freelance clients to chooseing the right laptop.
- The institution Changelog interview the creators of open source projects and have done so over the past 11 years. The hosts Adam Stacoviak and Jerod Santo are developers themselves with over 400 recorded podcasts.
- Indie Hackers are a developer-entrepreneur focused podcast, they dispel the myth that all start-ups require tonnes of funding through interviewing developer ran businesses and discuss how much revenue they produce. Since the podcast has started over 220 developers have been interviewed and it remains an invaluable source.
Remember, the new is only new for a few years whilst the industry standards take years to move. The ‘new’ only provides so much to the average developer whilst experience provides so much more, if you think your method of completing a job is more efficient and higher quality then there really is no reason to change the stack you are employing.
Thanks for reading 👏👏👏, if you have any questions or would like to reach out, please do so in the comments or on LinkedIn . Please subscribe to my newsletter where you will be updated with new articles.
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