DevXPod

How does DevX affects us all? With Brittney Postma (Software Engineer, Grainger & Founder of Svelte Sirens)

March 01, 2022 Mike & Pauline Season 1 Episode 6
DevXPod
How does DevX affects us all? With Brittney Postma (Software Engineer, Grainger & Founder of Svelte Sirens)
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we chat with Brittney Postma (Software Engineer at Grainger, founder of Svelte Sirens, Instructor at CodingCatDev and more!) about how she fell into the tech world, finding community and how developer experience affects us all.

The hosts  ▻

Our guests  ▻

Things mentioned ▻

Let's chat some more! ▻

Pauline:

Hi, Brittney, thank you so much for joining us for DevX pod today. We're really excited to chat to you and get to know a bit about your story, how you're interested in developer experience. For those who are listening in right now, and aren't familiar with your work and who you are. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Brittney:

Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here to talk about developer experience. It's one of those things that I'm pretty passionate about. Currently I work full-time at Granger. They are an e-commerce, sort of like Amazon, but more for commercial business places. And I'm a software engineer there and I do content creation on coding cat dot devs. I've started coding almost four years ago now. I was a stay at home mom. I had three kids that were under the age of five at the time. I was just looking for something to keep me busy and keep my sanity while they were playing in the playroom. I found free code camp and started doing the responsive web design course. Each lesson, there was easy to read and learn, like while they were busy. And then if I had to stop and do something, it was really easy to just do that. I kept seeing a react pop-up in the things that I was reading. I was trying to take in all the content that I could and I kept seeing react pop-ups so I bought a Udemy course on react that kind of changed the course of my life. It was the complete react developer by zero to mastery and it had just launched. So they have a private discord server that actually now has almost 300,000 people, which seems insane. And I started chatting in there and helping out where I could, and I was the first one to finish the react course. So that kinda got me recognized a little bit. And I became a star mentor in that community. And that kind of launched my love of discord communities and growing communities. So I found answers to questions like freelance clients. And I mean, most importantly I found friends during a time where we couldn't go outside. So during the pandemic, like I was able to find friends and communities in places to just be part of, so I love that part of it. And I think right after I started learning react and completed that course, I was listening to syntax FM and kept hearing Scott gush about Svelte. And I decided to try it just right after I finished learning react. And I was so in love with it, that I just converted everything that I had just written in Gatsby and react stuff over to Zapper and the developer experience was just one of the best I'd seen. I felt like it was so much simpler and more straightforward than react to me. And it just clicked. And then you see me now as a software engineer at Granger, I started with coding cat in late 2020. He, I actually found him in discord, even though he lives 20 minutes away from me. So he was asking for someone to redesign his site and I came on to do that. And I was like, To help with the front end, putting this design into the front end. I want to get some more experience, get my feet wet with that. He agreed. And then the next month he asked me to cohost perfect dev with him. And I mean, the rest is history. And then I saw that perfect job for me in September of last year, where it was building design systems with Svelte at Granger. And that is currently what I'm doing. We are currently switching to react, but I did get hired to build with Svelte. So that's kind of what I'm doing now and still doing content creation with coding cat.

Pauline:

Wow. I'm just amazed by that journey just because I really relate to several different aspects that you talked about that firstly like free code camp. I had a similar sort of experience like, I was teaching myself how to code quite at a young age and I didn't really, I don't think free code camp was around . I was quite young, but then later in my career, when I decided that I want to take this more seriously, I decided to do a free code camp course. And they think I actually did that responsive web development. One. I finished it from start to finish and I had a little certificate as part of that course. And it was awesome because I met quite a few people from the free code camp community who were also a point in their journey as me. It was awesome. I really loved it. I really related to that part of your story. And then what you said about discord communities in general. Communities have changed my life and they led me to Gitpod. So every time I hear someone like gush about how awesome communities are and what it's brought to our life and how much it's changed their life. I'm just like, yeah, same.

Brittney:

That's, I think discord is one of the most underutilized things for a developer that people just don't realize how much help and how much support you can get and meet people. You never thought that you would meet in discord. And developer Twitter is amazing as well.

Pauline:

Yeah, absolutely. They're the two places I hang out 24 7 and I honestly feel like I wouldn't be where I am now if I wasn't so online on Twitter and so online on discord. So yeah, I'm really thankful for those spaces and I'm glad! It sounds awesome. It sounds like you found the place that you want to be because of those resources. Really glad to have you on board.

Mike:

I am just coming back from going down memory lane, when you mentioned how to learn coding. And I'm like, I looked up when YouTube was founded and it was like 2005. And I thought for myself, that was way after I started learning to code. I realized, oh my God, things have changed so much.

Brittney:

It's just gotten so much easier, like so much more accessible to everyone.

Mike:

I think that the fact that, it's actually related to developer experience too, because nowadays you can just pick a project on GitHub that you're passionate about and start contributing to it. While in the past you would read books and try things out on your computer. I think you're right that really changed how we're learning. You mentioned the aha moment or a new when you saw Svelte slash Zapper for the first time. While this is not about front end or anything, but I think that speaks volumes to what the team did there to make the developer experience really stand out and hence, you know, to kind of adoption in 2021 and definitely in 2022 for Svelte and now Svelte Kit. Yeah. So pretty excited to see what's happening there. What I'd like to dive into is maybe more along the lines of like, how did you get started with developer experience specifically? Not just the career overall, but DevX like Zapper obviously had a big impact, I assume, based on what you said, but can you tell us a little bit more about that and what that looked like?

Brittney:

Yes, Svelte in general did have a big impact on me just seeing how the difference in the two frameworks that I knew at the time react and Svelte were different and how they felt different to me and click to me. But I really think we're all in the business of developer experience. You're either trying to improve your own developer experience or you're helping others to improve it through something. I think it's in every aspect of what we do and different things work for different people. Just because I like Svelte doesn't mean that it's better than react, it's just different and it works better for me. So I think that is one of the biggest things that got me on this journey and made me realize that it's out there and that there's different ways to learn. And I think that's the most important thing no one thing is the same. So as long as you're providing different ways to learn and use technologies, that is what is going to resonate with people.

Mike:

Totally agree. I think that's really what it's all about. Sometimes you see these "one is better than the other." On Twitter and I was like, well for you and I keep scrolling.

Pauline:

I said this the last time we recorded a podcast episode and I was saying that I was started learning Svelte recently and I'm finding, it a super enjoyable experience. I'm in the process of converting my Nextjs blog to Svelte one. It's such a fun experience! I haven't done like a big project like this in a while. It reminded me how important developer experiences in every step of the way, because it's like the onboarding, the documentations, the videos and the content that's already out there. I feel like with Svelte, it really pads out how good the developer experience is for first of all, it's just because of all of the surrounding things like contents and docs and all of that, that just makes it better. I don't know if that makes much sense, but I really like the playground that they have, for example, It just clicked for me.

Brittney:

The tutorial is one of the best on the web. And then stepping you through with a repel is just, it just shows you how it works. It's not just words on a screen. It's not just documentation. It's not just tutorials. And then there's lots of video content out there. So however you learn best it's available to you.

Pauline:

Yeah, absolutely. I'm excited to continue learning. Thank you so much for sharing that. Could you tell us a bit about why you think we should even care about developer experience because you raised a really good point about how you think that we all sort of work in the space of developer experience, whether we're aware of that or not, but yeah, maybe for those who are like developers who don't really understand the hype around why we're even talking about this? Why do we even have this podcast? Could you tell us about why you think we should care about developer experience?

Brittney:

Yeah. As much as you don't realize it. I think, like I said before, it's just a part of everything that you do as a developer. By making that development experience easier, you also make the user experience better. So it makes you more productive and it allows you to create things faster, reiterate through things faster. So you end up making your end-user experience better. You can make your accessibility better. It's around everything that you do.

Mike:

It can likewise be a curse when you try to automate your entire life and other people in your life don't understand what you're doing, but yeah.

Pauline:

Oh, yeah. I can really relate to that. Before we got on this podcast, we were talking about automating our podcast things and that in itself is a good example, like creating content, how can we make that whole process even better and even more seamless. It's really important that people have developer experience at the back of their mind because ultimately it is about improving their lives. You talked about how like developer experience improves user experience. This is something that I'm still trying to get my head round.. How do you think developer experience and user experience go hand in hand? This is actually a question my friend asked me the other day when I talked to her about developer experience. And she was like, how is that different to user experience?

Brittney:

Yeah. I think if you provide a better developer experience that you are, like you said, making your life better, so you're making things faster and you're improving your skills in an area that allow you to focus more time on other things. And Svelte, for example, it allows us to create those better user experiences by giving us like ally warnings, but that's also better developer experience behind the scenes. So I think those little pieces of better developer experience improve that end user experience by giving those like little accessibility hints, giving us tips on what we can use, where and what we can't making it easier for us to write syntax, increasing the productivity is just allowing us to spend time in other areas. And I think that's really what drives that.

Mike:

Yeah. Then there's companies where, it's kind of like booming in a moment where you have where the users are developers. So all these developer companies, building tooling and, other things that are really targeted, 40 developers only. That again, it shows the importance of DevX. Like we talked about two or three episodes ago where we see this boom of people announcing their new job in 2022 saying that, "Hey, I'm now a DevX, something, something," and all over the place, everybody know, kind of goes into that and realizes that this is such an important aspect here. Everyone's going to get

Brittney:

Did

Mike:

you get hired by Vercel?

Pauline:

That was a trend. Wasn't it? Every single day it was like, oh yeah, I've been hired by Vercel.. I

Brittney:

think we were saying it was like the 20 days of Christmas or something. It was like everyday leading up to Christmas, they were hiring a new person.

Pauline:

Yeah. And there were quite influential people as well. It was pretty cool. It was pretty cool to watch, like in real time as well. And again, power of Twitter. I think, sort of explained that to my friend in a similar way. I was like, you know, if developers are enjoying the way they're creating. Whatever product they're building. Then at the end of the day, it will end up with users who use it having a better experience as well, whether that's faster or more accessible. Really important.

Mike:

I did say that a couple episodes ago, but I think it's also irrelevant again here. As you get, as developers get more senior in their career, they develop experience starts to be a key differentiator. Whether they go to company a or company B, because you know what works for you. You don't want to spend your days doing stuff that's just tedious and it can be done better. So I think that really becomes also a competitive advantage. We get the best kind of talent on your team and give them the freedom and the flexibility to do the work they do best the way they can do it by. Yeah. Interesting times ahead. What is your best developer experience you've ever experienced? You mentioned Zapper being a big one, obviously Svelte Kit now but anything else that really, you were like, wow, I've never seen anything like it. That's so cool. That makes everyone's life easier.

Brittney:

Of course, I feel that Svelte provided me with the best developer experience as far as frameworks go. I love Svelte kit, but to me Netlify has always exemplified the standard of just amazing developer experience. There's an article that I just read. I think she just read it a couple of weeks ago, Sarah Drasner that goes into how Netlify makes developer experience just an integral part of their core beliefs at Netlify. And they have this hybrid engineering experience role that rotates to different teams to develop empathy for how their entire system works. So that was like really inspiring to me. And I just, I think Netlify has always done an amazing job. I use them on all of my personal sites, so I think there are probably by far the best in the standard for me.

Mike:

I like that idea of rotating between like product engineering and developer experience. I think the same goes for, if you build an API that is consumed by other teams within the company or external people as the API developer or owner, you should also be responsible for at least one client that consumes that API so that you actually experience that usage first hand.

Brittney:

That's exactly how I feel about it. I feel like you need to have the experience of different members on your team have different ways that they handle things and see how, like I said, how the entire system works so that you can understand what different people are going through and what you have to work with.

Mike:

Yeah, totally agree. I also see this as another step. You know, like a couple of maybe five, 10 years, 10 years ago, we had this debate in the industry of should we write tests? And we eventually agreed that this is a good thing to do. And I think now we're in the same kind of situation, which should I write docs. As a developer, that's not the first thing that's on your mind when you think about your day, but then at the same time, if you write code and nobody knows about it, or how do you. Did you even write code? Right. So I think this is similar along those lines where you have to experience what it takes to actually get your code in the hands of users.

Brittney:

This goes back to what I said about developer experience, being a part of everything that you do, just because you don't like writing tests. Does it make your life easier in the end? Yes. Does writing tailwind for CSS? Does that make your CSS go fast? Probably, I mean, for some people, yes. So that might make your developer experience better. I think it's in so many different aspects that we don't even realize. And like you said, documentation. Some people like to write it, some people don't, but if it's not there, then somebody else is going to have a worst developer experience.

Mike:

Yep. That's

Pauline:

definitely true. Yeah. And now another thing like, that's been on my mind recently is relating to like documentation is, I think a few episodes ago we were talking about how video. Can also play a part in developer experience and the content around that. At Gitpod. We started creating more screencasts and embedding that into the documentation because, I think you mentioned this earlier Brittany that everyone learns in different ways and some people prefer videos of people for docs. So including other pieces of content, as part of the developer experience is something I didn't really think about until I started listening to other people talk about how they sort of tackling developer experience in the organizations. Yeah,

Brittney:

we started talking about that at work too. We're moving to storybook. And so we're providing code examples and we're showing different ways to do things. We're providing documentation, but we're talking about doing that video content too, and we're doing live demos right now, but talking about recording those and then embedding them, like you said, and just provides different ways for people to see things. I prefer video content, so if I can watch someone do something, I learn it much faster than if I'm just reading about it. So I agree. I think that's an amazing.

Mike:

I agree that everybody's watching video. I'm from the old school kind of group and I can't stand it because I cannot search. I cannot go where I want to go and whatnot, but I think there is an opportunity for somebody to come in and build a way to keep videos, especially when there's code involved, keep them updated in an easy way. I talked with who was the VP of engineering at Cyprus in his previous role. And he worked on a tool where you can use end to end tests and then record them. That's part of Cyprus. But what you could do to is cut it out and just show that. And I wrote a blog post about that saying. If in your documentation, you use the tests that you write for like, let's say the logging feature. You could then embed that video in your documentation, in the login section and explain people. This is how you do it in text, but then also have a video underneath that shows it, which gets generated automatically based on your tests. Then you have the best of both worlds, right? We have videos. Because if you change the UI, you have to update your tests, which means generates a new video that you will automatically and back in the docs. And I think it, when we get to that point where you don't have to manually rerecord your screen casts every time you rearrange a button or change a color or. But then it's going to be really interesting to see what people come

Brittney:

up with. That is very true. And we're doing courses on coding cat.dev, and that's one of the things that you have to think about, but I've from zero to mastery. I've noticed that they try to keep them updated yearly. Not many things change in the web development world and a lot of things, you can still keep with syntax stuff, but trying to make sure that your code is updated. And when it's video content, it's very difficult. You may have to rerecord several videos or even the whole course at some point. So it's something to definitely think.

Pauline:

Did you say storybook, you were using storybook? How would you use that? Yeah, I've not, I've heard that floating around now. I just want to ask you, like how do you set that up? What are you using that for?

Brittney:

Yeah. So storybook is a way to kind of visually see your design system and document it alongside each other. We have a design system at work that we're creating and you create your component, and then you show that in a story. And in the story, you can show the code example, all the props that go into it, you can play with the props. And then on the documentation page, you can show different ways to use that component. So like we have different canvases and different stories that go for like how to use the, as prop with a box and how to use this thing with this other thing. So it just breaks it down and then you get an error arche of the component and the props. And so that way you can go and see each level of documentation. And it's a really nice tool

Pauline:

Oh, that's really cool. Yeah. I might deep dive into that a bit more.

Brittney:

We're switching to it at work over Christmas break, the first spelt sirens stream that I did, I decided to just do a solo one and I did it on trying to end. Storybook into spelt kit, which is not working very well right now, but we did get a live working examples. So that was the first stream that I did. Yeah.

Pauline:

So where do you think developer experiences evolving to? I feel like we've touched on several different themes here, like around documentation and videos but like where do you see a developer experience?

Brittney:

Yeah. I love what we talked about too. Just about the automation piece of it. So like automating the different things in your life that can make things more productive, make it faster, make it easier for you. And I think it's going to become an integral part of how companies explore adding new technologies or changing stacks. So they're going to think about that developer experience closer than they would have. Three years ago, even. And I truly feel that making your developers more productive, improves that experience for everyone. So you're going to see it across the board in your end users and your marketers and your people that don't code. Like you're just going to see it through the whole company. So if you can put out more features while focusing on that user experience, you're just going to have a better time for everyone and be more success.

Mike:

Awesome. Yeah. That question is my favorite ones. When people get to visionary thoughts and share what they think, where does this go? A year from now two years from now, we will go back and look at all these questions and see who has most accurate.

Brittney:

You spoke about how it's changed since you were learning to code before even YouTube was out there and then Pauline and how she's like free code camp wasn't even around. Everything is evolving at such an increased rate of speed too. We're going to see such an explosion in this industry in the next five years. I definitely think this is the year of Svelte. I want to say that. So I'm hoping to see a lot more come out of this felt community this year.

Pauline:

Oh, that's awesome. Maybe in a few years we can go back, revisit this podcast and do a little show, who was the closest to reality to the future of DevX! That's such a good idea.

Mike:

I don't know if you've ever written a letter to yourself in the future, and then you kind of put it away for five years and opened it back up. Most fun moments ever. It's so much fun. I have one coming up this year to open up, so it's going to be that's

Pauline:

amazing. Can I just quickly say I've never heard anyone else say that. Cause I felt that was just something I do like by myself in my room. I thought that I did, but yeah, I do that too.

Mike:

That's cool. It's something we did back in elementary school, and then we opened it in like later, later years. And I'm like, this is fun. So I kept doing it.

Pauline:

Oh, that's cool.

Brittney:

And that is really cool. I've heard of that. I've never tried it before, but that sounds awesome.

Mike:

Good. So one thing we usually do towards the end is ask. I want our guests to share either a fun thing or a fun tool, or give a shout out to a person that kind of made your day in the last couple of weeks or so. but something top of mind that you think the listeners should know that you'd like to share could be two things as well.

Brittney:

I definitely want to plug the siren stream a little bit. We created the spelt sirens, which is a I Svelte society for women and non-binary people in the spoke community, and we're just trying to promote more content around spelt and we're bringing on guests for live streams and we're doing those every other week and just showing new technologies and how you can integrate. But also, I think maybe the JAMstack community is what I want to shout out on discord. They've been really helpful getting set up with things and they're answering questions. They're very present in that community. So Demetrius Clark was hired as the technical community builder and LFI, and they've created this new discord community and it's really fancy.

Pauline:

That's awesome. I was going to say just in time for, oh wait this episode will be aired like in a few weeks, but for those listening, we recorded this on the 25th of January and yesterday was community appreciation. I only learned about it yesterday cause everyone on Twitter was saying, oh I'm really thankful for being part of this community for this community person because they've made my life better. That's a really good. shout out actually quite timely. I'll go next and tell you my fun thing I wanted to shout about. And actually it's also community related and I feel like I'm sounding a little boring now cause all I talk about is community stuff, but it is my job. But for me it's actually Orbit. For those who are listening and I've never heard of Orbit, so orbit is sort of like a do they like calling themselves? CRM. I think, I dunno if they like calling themselves up, but it's the place where you import your whole community onto orbit and it enables you to sort of build relationships based on your orbit. So it basically captures your community and the state that it's in. So who's the highest contributor. Who's always active or helping other community members. And as someone who's really who likes building relationships and likes making new friends on here, I thought that always just been really good cause I've been using it for a couple of my own community. Well, as the Gitpod community, and it's been a fantastic way just to keep track of everyone and, make sure everyone is engaged, and stuff like that. I've been playing around with it for quite a bit recently. , Before that I actually kept created on my own personal account so that every time I met someone in person or on Twitter, I would put their name on this spreadsheet. And I would say, this is what we talked about. And I really, just to keep note for like next time we interact with each other, it sounds really geeky. And I just thought that I just, I was just like, no one else does this, but I feel like it just helps me organize my life. And then I found that Orbit is a thing. And that there's companies that build on this idea. And then now I use it professionally so it's all a Orbit.love for anyone who's listening!

Mike:

I'm going to focus on a tool today in this episode. I think there's so there's no secret that I'm a big fan of mono repos and get your stuff into one. Svelte, just doing a great job at that. And one thing they use that I've used for a very long time, not as well as its PNPM. So in instead of, just NPM, you can use pnpm.io and what it does is it lets you run commands across different folders or different packages in your report. So if you have multiple services and multiple packets, You can basically run a P and camp death, and then it starts all the build scripts, all the Watchers and all that, and total self plug here. But if you use that together with Gitpod, then you literally have a one-click, developer environment set up. So you click that button, it opens up your developer environment and PNPM takes care of literally spinning up all the dev servers and all the Watchers. You ready? So I think they do a really good job. They also make everything a lot faster because they do a bunch of siblings and things.

Brittney:

Isn't it perform it node package manager? Is that what it stands for?

Mike:

I believe so. Yes, exactly. And yeah, that's just a marketing text. They are actually extremely fast. I

Brittney:

use it locally, but I've heard that you can't use it with Netlify and Vercel to host. So I'm concerned about that part.

Mike:

They do so you just have a pre-step that does NPM minus G PNPM and then you get to go. So once you pre-install, you just do that once and then it gets there. So I use it for all my projects and all the open source stuff like doing, it's slowly becoming natively supported by more and more providers. And if not, NPM minus G PNPs. Awesome.

Pauline:

Thank you for sharing that, Mike, as usual we'll post all of them. Of everything that we mentioned today and all our recommendations for you to check out, but we've reached the end of this episode. And Brittany, I just want to say thank you so much again for joining us. I've learnt so much from you. I'm excited to collaborate with you more in the future. That's a hint!

Brittney:

I'm very excited to collaborate more with Gitpod and to help out wherever I can. And I thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.