with Jason Lengstorf
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JASON: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of "Learn with Jason." Today on the show we're going to do an Ask Me Anything. It's been a while since we've done one of these. I feel it's always kind of fun to hang out, you and me chat, that's it. And just kind of go through any questions and stuff. I feel like a lot of times we don't have time to dig into the real tangent stuff, because we don't want to derail the guests too much, right? I do a good enough job of that on my own. So, given some space like this is always a lot of fun for me. I love just hearing what everybody has on their mind, and, you know, it's super fun for me to talk to y'all about, you know, whatever it is you're interested in. So, please, feel free to fire away with any questions. And content security policy. Just going right for it. So, content security policy is one of those things that is very cool to set up. A little tricky to set up. I am not an expert on this, because to be completely honest, I have only read through articles on it. I haven't even bothered to set it up on my own, because, unfortunately, at this point in time, I just haven't had the opportunity to really think through it. I'm guilty of not having paid this the proper attention. It is hard. It's hard the way that cores is hard. Cross-origin requests, the mechanic of it is not hard, but the mental model of it is hard. And what I've found with it, it's one of those things that what helps me -- here's how I finally understood CORs. I drew a map. What is CORs actually doing? Sending options across to figure out whether or not you're allowed to get the thing, if it doesn't get back the headers, there's all this stuff happening, and it makes sense. Basically, you're saying, hey, server, can I have this content, and the server says here's who's allowed to have the content, and the browser says, oh, that's me, and sends the full request. I feel like the content security policy is kind of the same thing, you're sending headers that define permissions, what's allowed, what's not, and that's about as much as I remember off the top of my head. So, maybe try actually mapping the journey of the browser says this, server says this, header says this, and this is how the stuff actually makes that all work. But, yeah. I see some first-time chatters in here. Welcome, Ian Douglas, welcome Nartc. Yeah, what's up, having a great day. I'm in a good mood today. I stole Marissa's mug, look at this one, this one makes me smile. Alexander, how are you doing today? I'm doing great. I'm seeing questions come in.
Let's see. Just looking at -- am I an extrovert? I'm an amnivert. I like being around people slightly less than half the time. I like to go to events, hang out with people, do big social things, but after a couple days of that, I will then spend a few days locked in my office, listening to music, working on a project and not speaking to anyone for a few days. Drives my partner nuts, because she'll be like, hey, let's go out -- she's a full extrovert. She wants to go all the time, meet people, have people around. And I like that half the time, and then I like to switch flips. No, no, I'm staying home. You go do whatever you want, but I have to sit quietly and stare at a wall for a while. That's been kind of interesting, because I, depending on the day, I'm an introvert or an extrovert. That, I think, can be a little frustrating for people that have to hang out with me. Tom Tom fit, first-time chatter, thank you, hello. Asks do you feel like being in DevRel has dulled my engineering skills, improved them, or kept them the same? Looking at moving over from engineering -- from engineering to DevRel, worried about losing the technical chons. Depends on the role. For example, for me, I would say I have gotten stronger as a general front-end architect, gotten stronger in the broad sense of I can fit different technologies together because of the way my role has structured. I've gotten weaker on the back end, because I don't do any back-end work at all anymore. I've gotten weaker on the fine-tuning ultra perf stuff, because it's not part of the job that I do anymore. I would say that it depends how you define the role. I very much defined my role, even when I moved into the VP slot, of making sure the work I do is still engineering, that's why I run Learn With Jason twice a week, it's engineering work, I'm trying things, building things, because I feel it's important to me to continually be learning what's out there, see how things fit together, keep up with trends that I might not have a chance. I might not have a chance to write TypeScript professionally, but I learn on the show as a way of making sure I'm exposed to the technologies and get a chance to learn them. I would say that it is possible. We have DevRels -- some of the developer experience engineers on the team straight-up work on our product, and that work they are ultra sharp as engineers. Ben Hong, for example, on the Vue core team, ultra strong engineer always improving his development skills. Others of us, we are really interested in engineering and do a lot of engineering work, but I don't think either of us really wants to go deep into product work anymore. We've done that, we've been there. For us, we're focused more on the high-level trends and making sure that we understand it, but not necessarily that it's something that we have the ultra deep, you know, principle engineer understanding of exactly how that technology works. So, I think you can set levels and goals for yourself and make sure the role you move into is built around those goals. Yeah, it's a conversation you have to have with your team is the shorter answer to that. What's the path to seniority in DevRel? This is a great question, Brandon. The path to seniority in DevRel, if we look at the ladder that we have in DevRel, and I can switch over actually to this really excellent tool here, which is career ladders. Is it careerladders.dev? Sarah Drasner, who was the VP of Developer Experience before I took over, she wrote up these really good career ladders, and in doing this, set me up to have the easiest job ever, because I get to refer to her work whenever I need to answer a question. She did a great job of writing up a ladder of what changes between the entry level. So, early career DX would be, you know, you're going to advocate, you're going to make samples and demos and you're going to do some debugging. Just kind of like a positive point of presence in the community to help people get connected to the experience. As you move up the chain, when you get to principal, these are the folks who they are building systems, they are building out strategies, they are designing whole campaigns. They've got contacts across the industry, and cannot just answer questions, but can, literally, connect different people together. Oh, we're trying to do a partner push? Great. If we're doing a thing about the Jamstack, let's get the Sanity team and see if they want to work together on this, and we can take Sanity as the CMS, and Netlify as the platform, and maybe the Nuxt team wants to work on how we'll do this with Nuxt. That's the front end, get some serverless functions in there and start thinking about how do we get all the different things to fit together in a meaningful way. And all of that leads to us having the ability to do strategic, company-wide efforts. And that will happen. This is another big one, you know, really senior developer experience engineer, they are going to show up on sales calls as closers. Our job is to talk to the architects at a company that's considering moving to this architecture, and help talk through the challenges that they are going to have and how do we do incremental migration, how do you think about your existing system and how this would fit into it without having to boil the ocean? All of those are very kind of advanced level things. Hey, what's up, Alex and friends, welcome. We're doing an AMA today. If you have questions, fire them off.
To put a very fine point on it, this is true of Developer Experience, engineering, any tech role that I've seen, the early career is are you capable of working by yourself? To get to senior means you're effectively self-sufficient on your own projects. You can do work without a lot of oversight, you can, you know, somebody can hand you a project, and you can execute on that project. As you get further up the level, you now have a team-wide impact. You, as say a staff engineer, are capable of not just being productive on your own, but you can work with the early career engineers on your team in, say, a project where three of you are working on it. The three of you now can function, because the staff engineer is able to provide enough direction to the other engineers to make sure everybody knows what they are working on and what they need to do. When you get into senior staff or principal, now you've got org-wide, maybe they are driving initiatives at the whole developer organization experience or engineering level. And when you get to the highest levels, you're going company wide or industry wide impact by the way you're being strategic, sitting in on product meetings, sitting in on road map meetings, and customer and marketing and monetization meetings to think about, okay, how's this going to impact the community? How is the way that we're going to change this pricing going to affect this group of customers, and how do we make sure this client knows about it, so that all of these people feel like they were considered and taken care of as part of the exchanges. So, there's a lot of high level strategic stuff there. In terms of advancing, as much as it sucks, show up to meetings. Look at what the senior people are talking about, look at where they are paying attention, what questions and concerns they are bringing up. And ask why. Start trying to get an understanding of why when we talk about this really cool technical feature, why did we spend so much time on the rollout plan? Couldn't we just show everybody this thing is great and we're done? Why did they spend so much time on drawing a mental map from zero to this concept? And start to, you know, pick out what the difference is between the way even when you talk to engineers, when you talk to, you know, an engineer at like the DX engineer II level and at the principal level, the conversations are both going to be good, but the focuses are going to be different. What's different? What level is somebody thinking at and what level are they asking questions at, so you can start to really understand where do I need to grow my strength, what instincts do I need to develop as an engineer, to move to that next level, to start having a team-wide, a company-wide, industry-wide impact on the way that people are thinking about and talking about these ideas. Allen, you asked about just in case versus just in time. The idea of instead of trying to gather information before you need it, gathering information at the time that you are doing something that you need it. Oh, you found that later. Okay. So, I'm just scanning through questions here. I'm a ways back. So, everybody, bear with me. I see a subscribe. Thank you so much for the sub. I see a question from Hakuna Matata. I work with a marketing agency, flushed out a proof of concept. To my experience, I don't see there being many DevRel positions at an agency. Do you see this in the future popping up in the agency space? So, maybe. I think there is room for this sort of work at an agency. I think it's harder with agencies, because agencies tend to make their money off of client projects, and a client is not going to pay for outreach. So, it makes projects more expensive to employ different folks around the agency that aren't working on client projects. So, that can make it hard, because it messes with margins. That is a disincentive for an agency to start actually creating this role. This being said, doing it is a very big net positive for any company that does it. If you have somebody active in the community and draws a lot of good will and helps get you into conversations, that does have a big impact on your top of funnel, on your leads, on your ability to convert. All those things are very good things, so it can be worth it, but it's a difficult -- that first step is hard. You're basically saying, yeah, I know we have our margins now and we charge what we charge now. Can you carve enough out to create a salary for somebody that's not going to work on client? That's a hard sell. If you can make that sell, it's going to pay off and be worth it. If you're going to be the one to propose the role, be sure you have a clear path how you're going to do a return on investment, because you'll be under a lot of scrutiny if you start messing with margins, but it is the sort of thing that can be worth money, you can absolutely make it work, but it will be an uphill battle to get it started. If you have a clear plan and can show the revenue down the line, yeah, I think you can make that case and you could be very successful at it. Another way to look at it, it might be more instead of seeing agencies creating dev ex roles, we'll see DevEx agencies. Cory Quinn is a good example. He works for himself, but he's also kind of doing a lot of work that raises awareness about other companies, and he gets paid through sponsorships, through -- I don't know, contracts and consulting, but I think a lot of the sponsorship money is effectively DevRel for hire. By sponsoring Cory's work, you're raising awareness because he's going to be talking about your product and Cory Quinn is well known in the AWS space, a lot of people look to him for opinions and insight. He's got a great voice, he's really funny. So, paying Cory is a great way to not spend a full salary, but still get a lot of benefits in DevRel. So, you could offer that as a service and make that as something somebody is willing to pay you for, because it's easier to justify than a full-time salary right out of the gate. So, it can be a way for companies to test the water with DevRel and DevEx. So, who knows? I think we're starting to see most companies in the tech space recognize the value of having DevRel and Dev Experience. Both seem to be in alignment what the best value and role is. So, we're seeing more people write books and guidance about how it should work. We're seeing, you know, more discussion, more dedicated spaces to talk about it, and I think that's going to lead to evolution and growth. So, I'm very curious to see how that kind of grows over time. What else we got in here? What is up, Henri, I see in the chat. Let's see. Is there potentially a pay cut to start as a new DX engineer? Very much depends where you're coming from and what level of skill you're bringing to the DX. It's a career change, like moving into management. Management is not a promotion, management is a career change. If you're a really, really good engineer but never managed before, it's possible you'll take a pay cut to become a manager, because you have to learn a lot of skills. Same for developer experience, product, anything like that, because being a good engineer is only a portion of being good at developer experience. You need to be an engineer, but there's also skills in storytelling, and in creating safe spaces, and understanding community dynamics and being able to create trust. What you could call bedside manner in the sense that people are always working to -- how do I present bad news, how do I present controversial opinions in a way that doesn't make somebody feel they are being called out or slighted, but in a way that is an objective discussion of this technology. And that's important, too. When I talk about frameworks and stuff, if I talk about how cool I think Astro is, that's not me saying, oh, that's because Next sucks. That's not what I believe at all. Being in DevRel, there's a tricky line to walk where we do have opinions, and we do have things we want to express, but we shouldn't, and, honestly, sustainably can't express those opinions in a way that says I like X because Y is terrible. You know what I mean? That idea of tearing people down and going for -- going low and trying to trash other technologies, that doesn't fly over time, because, ultimately, makes you look mean. And nobody wants to hang out with somebody who could turn on you any second. As a DX engineer, as a DevRel, a lot of your value is in how do you handle it when somebody attacks the framework that you use? You can go high, doesn't mean other people are going to stay with you. We'll get an odd tweet about somebody really mean about Netlify or "Learn with Jason." How do I deal with that, how's that work? I think part of seniority being in a public-facing role is realizing most of the time when somebody is mean, it's not about you. Especially when they are talking about technologies. If somebody is attacking Netlify, they are not talking about me. If they are talking about me, that's different. If somebody attacks the tech stack I like, the company that I work for, or somebody attacks a thing that I'm a fan of, doesn't mean that they think the people who use it are bad. Sometimes they'll say stuff like that, and I have to be willing to not engage. That can be really challenging. You want to go defend yourself because somebody is being mean, hurts your feelings. That's a whole skill set you have to build. If you're not super skilled in that, it could mean you're going to go from being a senior engineer to an entry-level DX engineer. Really strong on the engineering side of the Venn diagram and maybe you have a lot to learn on the social dynamics, building community, and creating safety side. That can also be the opposite. You could be a good engineer who's really good at community, and you might actually get promoted into a higher level of DX because you showed a ton of capability in that space, and engineering was not the right role for you. So, very much depends on the situation. Also depends on the company. Some companies pay really aggressively for DX, because they know DX is a specialized skill, involves being a generalist in a lot of places, so that can be expensive to find somebody who can do all of those things. Other companies see it more as a marketing function and pay less than engineering, so you'd take a pay cut. Very much depends how the company frames it and values it. Again, kind of a case-by-case conversation that you have to have. Let's see. Dive on into these questions here. Orbit putting out a list of community tools. Let's take a peek at this. I love these. These are always really useful. Orbit, if you're not familiar with it, is a kind of community measurement tool. It can show you who's super engaged and who's -- if somebody is becoming more engaged, less engaged, you can identify your top community members and who's putting the most effort into your community, so that you make sure people don't fall through the cracks and that kind of thing. It's really, really powerful stuff. It's really cool. I'm a big fan of the product. Looks like they have a free report on this. That's cool, you can get a physical copy. This is maybe a cool thing to look at, especially if you're interested in DevRel. What else do we see here? I have a question about Netlify dev. All right, let's talk code. Developing a blazer project with Netlify functions, manage to configure to host dotnet status, holy crap, you're doing stuff I didn't know about. Problem is dot net shows input such as restart or abort, and there's no way to interact with it. Woof. Okay. So, that one I'm not going to be able to respond to. However, open an issue on the CLI repo, that is monitored, and our team is going to be able to dive into that and try to help and see what they can do to back you up there. Everybody tried the CLI, by the way? I know that I bring this up every once in a while on the show. I'm just such a big fan of the CLI. I use it all the time now and makes me feel like a superhero, because it's just very -- lets me not ever leave my terminal. It's so good. Anyways, go check that out, it's fun. Conflicts and opinionated conversation become an interesting conversation where you can empathize but build constructive feedback.
Sorry, Saboteu, I went off on a tangent there. Can you tell I spend some of my time reading weird philosophy books? Nikki asking how soon is too soon for Christmas lights? I guess whenever you want them is when you can put them up. My partner put them up yesterday, which is November 1st, which I had previously thought you weren't allowed to do Christmas decorations until after U.S. Thanksgiving, which is the end of November. Turns out I was incorrect about that, and the Christmas lights are now up. You can even see -- I think I got the tweet -- should be on my homepage here. Right here, I think. There it is. This is the tweet that Nikki is referring to about my house decorated in Christmas lights already. And I do want to point out, if you look closely here, this is the Halloween skeleton that Marissa didn't even bother taking off the front porch before she put up the Christmas lights. So, we are both decorated for Christmas and Halloween right now. Yeah, here's a pumpkin. We're decorated for all the seasons. We've got the harvest, Halloween, we've got the holidays. So, you know, I guess the answer is whenever you want Christmas lights is the right time.
A little tree in the background of your streams is a great idea. Really fun. Die Hard is a Halloween movie, Gremlins is a Halloween movie. People have to get this right. Glowing mushrooms at music festivals. Kindred spirits. Go make things that make you smile. The story is worth the money, in my opinion. I'm not going to do something that puts me at risk of financial ruin, I'm not going to do something -- I have to make choices between food and this idea or rent and this idea. If I have disposable income on something silly that makes me smile, what else am I going to do with the money? I'm going to spend it on something. Knowing me, it's going to be food, some impulse furniture purchase, or something that's fun. And I like balancing that. You know, I want to have great food and the experiences of eating with people and all that fun. I like having furniture that I enjoy in my house. I like decorating my house, it's kind of fun. But I don't want that to be the only thing I do. I also want to have stories and I think paying for stories, whether that's travel or experiences like doing something weird, like making a rubber duck, or even if it's like, you know, just little stuff. Can I, you know, do a thing that lets somebody -- how do I unblock a story, make a story come true? Those sorts of things, too. It's worth the time, the money. I never, never regretted that. Glowy glowy mushrooms. I kind of want to see the mushrooms. Let's take a look. Risky click of the day. Oh, wow! These are really cool. I love that. That's a super fun thing to do. I love stuff like this, these fun decorations and things like that. Thank you for actually sending me pictures of the mushrooms. Love you, chat. Treat me good. Yeah, this is really cool. These are LEDs, 3D printed? I love this. Over 700 at one point. Oh, my goodness. What an adventure. Handmade? Oh, my good -- wow. Wow. That is an investment! These are really cool. Yeah, this is great. These are a great idea. Oh, these are made out of ping-pong balls? Wow, this is so much more low tech than I thought, and it looks amazing. You know what, have you ever seen the show "Making It"? It's Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler. Sort of like The Great British Bake-Off, but they do crafting. First of all, all the vibes of love, where it's a contest, ostensibly, but not like American reality TV, where everything is cut throat and people are talking trash. This is way more collaborative, people like each other, helping each other. The other thing I love about it, you see people do stuff, oh, that's going to look cheap and crappy. I found this old rope and this wicker basket, then they make something incredible that looks really, really expensive, and it's like, oh, man, I love how creative people can be. It's kind of wonderful. Yeah, I kind of want to make these mushrooms, too. One of the things I'm hoping for when the pandemic has lifted enough that we can safely just kind of gather and things like that, I really want to do some in-person Learn With Jasons, where we can bring guests into a studio of some sort and do whatever. I've long wanted to do cooking shows. I thought that would be super fun to bring in guest chefs and learn how to make something. Who knows. We'll see how it goes and whether or not I can make a studio work with good enough streaming set up to actually function. I think that's going to be really expensive, and I don't know that I can do that story without having to make a choice between eating. LWG, yeah, let's do it. I actually do kind of love that idea. I've kicked around the idea, we were going to do at Jamstack conf a Learn With Jason track. As evens start being more in person, I like the idea. If you have ideas, let me know. What would you want to see? Plumbing tube and ping-pong balls. That's brilliant.
Let's see, fun to build talks with Prisma. What's up, Taylor, how are you? Taylor is going to come on the show, and we're going to play. Going to be a lot of fun. Taylor, were you here when I was talking about Planet Scale just now? Oh, Anthony, your sub expired. I want to give back to the community and pay it forward by creating content. If you had to start over from zero, how would you tackle this now? That's a great question. I think right now one of the most interesting spaces for people to be in is, as you are learning something, share what you're learning. I think that the challenge in doing that is that it's easy to think that anything you're learning other people already know, because as you're learning it, you're going to read other people's blog post, see documentation, all these resources, so it's easy to say, yeah, somebody's already covered this, if I do it, I'm repeating what everybody else said. I think that the strength in writing as you're learning is not necessarily fa you're producing new material, but anybody who's writing from the position of a learner, especially on the --
You can do it. Come on little compooper.
My experience learning blank. 100%. Do that all the time. Don't worry about making these posts perfect or encyclopedic or even particularly polished. It is really helpful to just write up your experience of learning things when you're learning it as a collection of notes. There's a concept called digital gardening. Maggie has a great post on this. I would definitely check out this stuff. Dig in there, look at this idea. One of the things that I think is really interesting is if you look at Maggie's site, for example, she has this idea of evergreen being a really well-considered post, and a seedling being -- she wrote -- you know, basically taking notes on what she's done. And there's a lot of coming soon stuff in here. And this one, yeah, look at this. This one is just a couple notes, some references, some slides, and all of this is very -- hey, there she did an illustration. Got a tweet. Little bit of notes, right, actually, this is a great post to go and read. The seedling thing, you don't have to get it perfect. Don't even have to get it done. You can say this is a work in progress if you want to read about it. And that can be useful to folks. So, yeah, I think what Ben is saying, too, it's important to get something out and learn from it and improve. I think a big block that I see for a lot of people is they don't want to ship it until it's right. The sad fact of the matter is nothing will ever be right and nothing will ever be perfect. You'll always ship it and find one more typo, one more sentence, one more point you wanted to clarify. The better way, in my opinion, the better way to approach this is to ship lots of things and build a story on that content. You know, instead of trying to ship one post that houses all of your world view, ship 15 posts, each containing one thought, and all building that. You can even ship a post about one of your previous posts with a clarification based on something that you've learned. I've written plenty of blog posts. A while back I wrote this post, you know, here's what I was trying to get across, here's some things pointed out to me where I was off the mark. So, I'm going to clarify. That's a great way to have this discussion. And it also embraces the same thing that we want in engineering, which is we shouldn't be sitting on our ideas until they are perfect. We should be collaborative about them. Take the idea and put the idea out, and get feedback. Show it to somebody. See what they think, find out what questions they ask. Usually, the questions they ask are great topics for your next post. So, you can start building this body of work by starting a conversation. And a problem I've run into in the past, I would sit and workshop my posts until I felt they were ironclad, and I'd taken out anything that was discussible. Boiled them down to just facts and that was it. There wasn't any discussion. If you're thinking about this, not really sure where I'm going with this, but I think I'm on to something, that sparks a discussion, because somebody else will say I've been thinking about that, too, here's my take. Now you start to have an actual engaging conversation and not somebody saying I agree with your point or disagree with your point. I think that's a thing worth doing.
Oh, yeah, Anne Lamott's Shitty First Drafts is great for that. Yeah, brain picking, this is a good one. Oh, this is rebranded, brain picking is now the -- okay. Bird by bird is a good book. It's on the creative process. I've written a post on shitty first drafts, as well. Somewhere in here. I don't even know if this is a good post. I wrote it a long time ago. So, sorry. Yeah, I also just realized I attributed this to precision nutrition, because I hadn't read bird by bird when I was contracting for Precision Nutrition. Huh, well, I need to update this, because I misattributed it. Cool. Anyways. Lots and lots of -- see, we're learning today. Like two weeks ago they rebranded. Okay. I'm glad I'm not years late to that rebrand. It's good fertilizer. That's a poop joke. PDF with the actual post text as well, that's great. I can drop that into the show notes. But the general idea, get something out there and try. An idea that's good but never shared doesn't have a lot of value. A half-formed idea that's maybe just okay that's actually shared is going to do more to have an impact. That's an important way to look at things. I think that's a good ending point for us, right? We're out of time, so it is now time to wrap this thing up. So, let me do a quick shout-out to our sponsors. So, first of all, we've had live captioning all day, we've had Ashly hanging out with us. Thank you so much, Ashly, for being here and writing down all these things. That's from White Coat Captioning. White Coat is with us every week, at every show. So, that is very helpful. That's made possible through the support of our sponsors, Netlify, Fauna, and Auth0. All kick in to make this show more accessible to more people, and that means a lot to me. And then we've got a schedule with a lot of good stuff coming up. So, make sure you go over to the schedule page on the site and hit this add on Google Calendar button or follow on Twitch. What we're going to do next, later this week, Natalia is coming on, We're going to talk about distributed databases in MongoDB in serverless and it's going to be a lot of fun. Next week, Pato on the show, progressive web apps and if you're not familiar, this is going to be really fun, we're going to jump in here and play around. Segun is going to teach us about Chakra UI. This is going to be fun. I don't use a lot of these front end tools, so I'm excited to see what it's about. We're going to keep it rolling. Login for Svelte, also Michael Chan is a delight to hang out with. So, you know, if you are not familiar with his work, you should definitely show up here and get familiar with it. Then, yeah, we've got -- I haven't even added everything yet. So much coming. I have ten more episodes in my inbox I need posted to the site. It's going to be great. Make sure you head over, get these figured out. And with that, everybody, thank you so much for hanging out with us today. We will be back on Thursday. And for now, we're going to go find somebody to raid. We will see you next time. Thanks, everyone.