Why Have a Developer Diary?

Why Have a Developer Diary?

What is a developer diary?

A developer diary is where you write about developer things. It can be the record of what you worked on last, some decisions made by steak-holders in the product, and or a neat way to accomplish a task. It really comes down to what you want to put in it.

The YouTube video for this post. Same content that's in the video is here.

What makes this different than a blog?

For me, a journal, log, diary whatever you want to call it are all different from a blog because a blog is more of a formed thought or a larger more coherent piece of work. A developer diary can be used to capture really short code snippets or even just a link to something useful without much more information.

With these distinctions in mind, it allows me to be okay writing something down and storing it somewhere without it being a full thought.

Why you need one?

There are a few reasons why you should be writing things down:

  1. It helps keep your head clear. You don't have to keep every decision in your head. Your memory is kinda like RAM in a computer. It can only hold on to so many things, so if you are holding on to that thing that Joe told you about making a button blue then you don't have space for how to complete the function you're working on or you'll eventually forget to make the button blue.
  2. You will remember things more. By writing down the fact or storing it somewhere other than your mind, you can actually remember it better. Also, with it being the beginning of the year, I'm sure you took a Holiday break, do you remember what you last worked on? Cause I certainly don't... and now have to go through the last Pull Request and commits I made to figure it out.
  3. Creates a reference. Writing down what you did or how you accomplished something will create a reference you can go back to so you don't have to remember why you made that decision or how you did something. It can help you solve a problem faster.

You can also think of a developer diary as your own Stack Overflow. As you write down solutions to problems you create a personal knowledge database that can help you solve problems you that you've already solved.

What can you use to make a developer diary

This is where the tools come into place and you can definitely go down a rabbit hole. So here are the 4 tools I think can work and in the order I would use them in.

  1. Craft/Notion/Obsidian basically any PKM or personal knowledge management app
  2. A basic note app like Apple Notes or the Windows Equivalent
  3. Plain file/folder system on your computer
  4. An analogue notebook

So my favorite option is option number one a PKM app because of search and linking. Craft, Notion, and Obsidian all support linking to other documents. So if you have a doc explaining how to do something with the Apple Music API and you write in another doc that you need to do that same thing, then you can link the 2 documents together pretty easily. They also each support search which is useful if you're using it as reference. I am currently using Obsidian for mine due to the plain text support and the file folder structure.

Number 2 and Number 3 are on the same level for me due to the search and linking features but without real support for code snippets it makes them a little harder to suggest.

Option 4, a notebook, is on here cause I know some people like to take notes by hand and it's definitely a valid way to keep track of what you're doing. It you are going to use a notebook, my favorite is the Leuchtturm 1917 in Dot paper. I use it as my bullet journal and love the Table of Contents and the numbered pages which can help with not having search.

Should you make it public?

This is a personal question that I can't really answer for you. I think you should do what you think you need here. I like working out in the open, so I make my personal one public. This means I need to actually run two, one for work and one personal. The work one lives side by side my personal one, but I won't put the work notes on the internet. You can find my dev diary at devdiary.heyjay.coffee.

Let me know if you're making a developer diary or you already have one that I can check out that's public!

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