I’d like to share with you all four things that I did right in 2016, and that I suggest you do as front-end developers.

#1 Write a technical article and peer review it

In June I decided to leverage the challenge and I submitted a proposal to Sitepoint: an article about Angular 2 and ngrx/store. It got accepted, then I submitted my first draft and I’ve been rejected both for my English and the for content.

My self-esteem was somewhere under my shoes.

At this point, I had to fight hard against the will to give up. Rather, I decided to try it again, and this time I wanted to be prepared. Here’s my life during summer 2016:

  1. attend to private English lessons
  2. improve the vocabulary and the syntax
  3. learn how to explain complex things
  4. understand better Angular 2
  5. understand better rxjs
  6. understand better Redux
  7. understand better myself
  8. write the article

By the end of September, and only then, I could undergo the peer review: after such a long and suffered process, I expected my peers to kick me hard. On the contrary, I got such good suggestions and feedbacks, which helped me to turn a good idea into a great project!

#2 Learn a Functional Language

I already know Javascript. We have arrow functions, we do functional programming.

I won’t start yet another discussion over Javascript’s definition of how functional it could be, the web has plenty of these discussions. Just try to learn something which let you write maths rather than instructions.

Clojure? Elm? Haskell? Erlang? F#?

It’s up to you. I learned all of them at a basic level and I went in depth with Scala.

I’m still developing with Javascript, just with a different mindset.

#3 Give a talk about something you love

I already gave talks before 2016, but during the last year, I spoke twice at Codemotion and once at MaltaJS: it is more than I did in the previous three years.

Although now I look confident at speaking, it didn’t start this way: in February, right before my first Codemotion’s talk in Rome, I couldn’t sleep because I didn’t feel prepared both technically and linguistically. English is not my first language, after all, I started speaking English at the venerable age of 29.

My suggestion is to speak about something you love. It is not enough knowing it because you will never know everything about the subject: but if you love it, your audience will get and appreciate it.

Furthermore, preparing talks forces you to study and discuss over and over everything you already knew. If you are not driven by passion, you either give up or prepare a poor presentation.

#4 Support your local community

When I landed in Malta, more than one year ago, I wanted to get in touch with other IT professional beyond the scope of the company I was working for.

It seemed impossible: no meetups, no communities, no conferences, …

So, together with my colleagues Andrei Toma and Bogdan Dumitriu, we decided to start MaltaJS from scratch. We put effort, time, money, and we discovered that other people were already thinking about it.

I’m not saying to go and start a community from scratch, but if you care about the people just try to help and go the extra mile. Participation is not just showing up once a month, it’s also discussing, proposing, talking, even arguing sometimes.

What did I get?

Writing a technical article for Sitepoint helped me to understand better the tech stack (Angular 2, RxJS, Redux) and to explain complex concepts in simple words. I also had to confront my ideas with very skilled developers and it made me learn more than I expected.

Learning a Functional Language is useful because the whole front-end industry is going towards strong typing, immutability, and more functional concepts like function composition. You’ll have to cope with that sooner or later, and this can be a good exercise.

Giving a talk is not just a technical task, is more about you as a person: knowing a topic is not enough, you need to know how to explain it. And this is a soft skill which turns out to be essential to work in a team.

Your local community is an invaluable source of connections and one of the best places for networking: although we can speak with everyone around the globe, we are still human beings and we naturally appreciate the live contact.

I wish you all a bright 2017, and may your dreams become true.