How I stay up to date as a software developer

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I’ve been a software developer building iOS applications for the past 6 years and in that amount of time, I have seen numerous changes to the industry and the responsibilities of my role.

I have seen new architecture patterns and trends come and go, new frameworks and languages emerge and old ones phase-out and, especially at the beginning of my career but still to this day, I do at times feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that I need to keep up with as a software developer.

To mitigate this feeling and to ensure that I am always learning and growing as a software engineer, I have developed a few habits that I would like to share with you in this article.

Newsletters, blogs and RSS feeds

There are numerous content creators and companies sharing updates and news that help me keep up with what’s going on in the industry.

These usually come in the form of blog posts and newsletters that gather these posts and news every so often and send them as emails to all their subscribers.

What newsletters do I subscribe to?

As far as newsletters are concerned, I subscribe to a few ones that I find useful and I try to find the right balance between iOS development-specific and more general software development ones.

This helps me cover a wide range of topics and stay up to date both with what’s going on in my area of expertise and with what’s going on in the industry as a whole.

The iOS development-specific newsletters that I currently subscribe to are:

And the more general software and app development newsletters I subscribe to are:

The magic of RSS feeds

If there is a blog or author that I find particularly interesting and that I want to keep up with that has an RSS feed available (most blogs do), I usually subscribe to it using an RSS reader.

You will also usually find that even newsletters have an RSS feed available, which means that you can bring all your articles and newsletter issues into one place.

There are plenty of RSS readers available out there, but my all-time favorite is the macOS and iOS application NetNewsWire, which also comes with a Safari extension that detects RSS feeds on the websites you visit and allows you to subscribe to them with a single click:

A screenshot of my NetNewsWire set up

If you subscribe to a newsletter via RSS, I would still encourage you to subscribe to it via email as well to support the creator.

Social media

Being active on social media is a great way to learn about what’s happening in the industry and to also connect with other developers that you can learn from and collaborate with.

I find X (formerly known as Twitter) to be the social media that I use the most and that I find the most useful for this purpose. I follow a lot of developers and companies that share interesting content and I also use it to share my content with the community.

Conferences and meetups

Attending conferences and meetups is a great way to meet other developers and get a chance to attend in-person workshops and talks with industry experts. I have attended a few conferences in the past and I have always gained invaluable knowledge and made great connections and friends.

I would encourage you to actively look for opportunities to attend conferences or, if there are no conferences happening in your area, to look for meetups that you can attend.

If you don’t know where to start looking for conferences, cocoaconferences.com is a great place to start as the website lists all the app development conferences happening worldwide.

A screenshot of the cocoaconferences website showing a list of upcoming conferences.

Podcasts

Similarly to newsletters, there are plenty of podcasts out there that cover the latest software development news that I listen to regularly.

I don’t listen to a lot of them, but these are the two ones I keep up with the most these days:

Creating content

I have been writing articles on my blog for a few years now and I have found that writing about a topic helps me understand it better and helps me build a knowledge database that I can refer back to in the future.

Even if it is just small articles and snippets, I would encourage you to write about your experience as a software developer and the things you are learning, you will find that it will help you understand the concepts you are writing about better and your future self will thank you for it!

If you want to take it a step further, you can even set yourself a writing schedule to commit to. This will help you find topics to learn and write about and expand your knowledge even further.

I would also encourage you to set up a public blog and share your articles there to keep yourself accountable and help others benefit from your findings too.

Side projects

There is only so much you can learn from consuming content alone and, at some point, you need to start applying what you have learned to truly understand it and to be able to add it to your skillset.

This is easier said than done, as it can be hard to find opportunities to apply what you have learned in your day-to-day job, be it because of the nature of the project you are working on or because of the struggle of finding the time and buy-in from stakeholders to do so.

This is something I have faced in the past and, the best way I have found to overcome this is to work on side projects. I have learned a lot from working on apps I have shipped on my own and I would thoroughly encourage you to ship your apps as well.

Regardless of whether the apps end up being a success or not, you will learn a lot from the process and you will be able to add that experience to your skillset.