Using email newsletters to stay up-to-date with web development
Hi, my name’s Claire and I’m a frontend web developer. The exact definition of frontend development varies between developers and companies. What a frontend developer does in Company A might be the responsibility of a UX researcher or backend developer in Company B. It might even be spelt differently! (I prefer “frontend” rather than “front-end” or “front end”) Take a look at the Front-end Developer Handbook (2018 edition) for an idea of the areas that frontend development covers.
Regardless of what exact technologies web developers use day-to-day, many agree that frontend web development is a confusing and overwhelming subject at times. New frameworks and best-practices come and go in quick succession. Keeping up with the latest trends, libraries and version updates can be exhausting.
I’ve been successfully using email newsletters as my main news source for as long as I’ve been a developer. I subscribe to several newsletters that I receive once a week, which contain topical links related to their subject. The links could be to blog posts, GitHub repos, conference talk videos, code demos or something else entirely. These weekly emails contain all the information that I need to stay well-informed on the current state web development.
As of October 2018, I subscribe to:
- React Status
- A11y Weekly
- CSS Weekly
- Mobile Dev Weekly
- Frontend Focus
- O’Reilly Web Newsletter
- Node Weekly
A lot of these are run by Cooper Press. They have even more newsletters that I don’t subscribe to. My subscriptions have varied over the years depending on my current job or favourite technologies at the time. (It’s an ambition of mine to get a link featured in one of their newsletters someday 🤩)
Personally, I don’t find time to listen to podcasts. Neither can I find the motivation to watch conference talks on YouTube when there are so many cat videos or Vine compilations to watch instead. I use Twitter to almost exclusively follow developers in my field, but I find it’s very easy to lose information amongst all the noise and chatter. Newsletters provide me with a concise list of topical information that I can consume at my own pace.
A roundup email like this contains approximately 10 to 30 links, so I don’t click through every link in every newsletter. But by skim-reading and clicking a few choice links, I get a good overview of what’s happening that week, while learning more detail about niches that interest me. Plus I always have the internet at my fingertips if something I’ve read piques my curiosity to read more about it.
So if you don’t already, I recommend subscribing to one or two weekly newsletters related to your tech stack and seeing if you get any benefit from reading them. My list focusses on frontend development, but isn’t extensive by any means, and there will be plenty of other mailing lists out there on all topics. Send me your own personal favourites!