The software development landscape is constantly changing. Focusing on just one technology, or even stack, can often leave a developer blindsided by a new approach, and there’s always someone claiming the latest shiny thing is better than an existing one. How can anyone stay current with all the trends, let alone learn all that going on? – clearly, we can’t.
Fortunately, here at the MoJ, we have a pool of quality developers, technologists, and architects, each with experience and expertise in hugely differing technologies
So, given that most of these specialists work in separate, multidisciplinary teams how can we access such a breadth of talent? We’re using an internal meetup style event we call “TechTime”.
This meetup gives us an opportunity to learn, and share knowledge, but it’s not a free-for-all. Like many meetups we have a charter detailing expected behaviors of participants, ensuring juniors can participate fully without fear of censure.
TechTime gives the technical community the chance to explore the technical issues of the day and learn who to ask for help in specific technologies. Some ask – can’t this all be done without face-to-face time, using just the collaboration tools we have available? Of course, to some extent it can, yet there is nothing that facilitates human communications more than being together. Yes, we will provide remote access to the meetings, but until we have a working holodeck (or HoloLens devices for all) the interaction of real people in real space can’t be beaten.
So, what are TechTime’s goals?
- Learn new things
- Share knowledge and experience
- Welcome all comers irrespective of the technologies they use
- Encourage innovation
- Share code
- Discuss common platforms
- Foster community
What’s next for TechTime?
In the last year we’ve covered a huge amount of ground, here’s a sample:
Gov UK Prototyping tool; local Docker; mutation testing; learning styles; PostgreSQL tips; Gov UK Notify; tooling; Lambda Functions; Machine Learning; Design hacks for Devs; Progressive Web apps; and, of course, GDPR.
In the past we’ve stressed a free-flowing program, recently, feedback from the community has requested a more structured approach. To this end we’re planning the entire years’ sessions up front. Each session will still have space for community discussion and involvement. We’re altering the cadence of the meeting to monthly. As ever, we welcome ideas for new topics, and speakers, and will flex our plans as needed by the community.
Our current plan for this year includes:
- 12 factor principles;
- Defining your app in code;
- Live hacking;
- Secure coding;
- Security engineering;
- Technical Architecture;
- Our cloud platform;
All of these sourced from our team. Just from these topics it’s apparent, the greatest resource for developers is…other developers.
So, if you want a developer community whose curiosity is still piqued, who want to learn best practice, and reach the top of their game, get them together with enough space and a mandate to explore.