by Rey Bango, Tuts+ Code Editor
Slowing Down the Web Developer's Hamster Wheel

Last year I wrote an article called The Learning Conundrum which described some of the concerns, frustrations, and fears I (and apparently many others) had in regards to the fast rate of change in our industry. The issue struck such a chord with readers that I followed it up with a presentation at O’Reilly’s Ignite at Fluent event which touched on this. I was happy to have several people thank me for talking about this—it made me feel I wasn’t alone.

It’s no longer possible or, dare I admit, reasonable to expect that one technology or programming language will sustain you singularly through a lasting career. Notice that I used the word ‘singularly’—JavaScript has been my main language for many years now, but I can’t honestly say that the language itself would allow me to remain relevant. Front-end development now encompasses so many different technologies and tools, making JavaScript only one part of the puzzle. The fact that all this tooling is now necessary to really be a professional developer can make it feel like we’re on a perpetual hamster wheel.

I’m not trying to say that things are horrible. To the contrary, I think things are simply more challenging. There are times when I truly wonder if these challenges exist because we’re over-thinking solutions, or are not thinking enough about the actual problem. I’ve seen many cases where new tools are created to tackle problems that have already been seemingly resolved. Or worse, when contributing to or enhancing existing tools would probably have been the better route to take. This makes me wonder how much ego or the “not invented here” mentality comes into play.

And if you look to raise a family, it becomes more challenging to balance your desire to spend valuable quality time versus reading the latest book on JavaScript. The one thing I will unequivocally say is do not sacrifice your family for your job. I learned many years ago that time is fleeting and you will never recover lost time with your partner and children. Learn to strike a good work/life balance and if you can’t, work to find another job that will provide it. I know I sound like I’m on a soapbox but I’m sharing my personal experiences and can promise that I’m only saying it for your own good.

Ultimately though, we have to evolve. As professional developers, we have to come to terms that ours is a constantly-changing field which will forever force us towards perpetual learning. The sooner you come to terms with that reality and embrace it, the sooner you’ll be able to create a plan to ensure that you stay relevant. This is even more important as ageism, my generation’s four-letter word, seems to be becoming a pervasive issue.

In my post, I outlined some of the things that I’ve done to keep up-to-date. Re-reading it now, those things are still relevant. I’m not saying it’s simple, but staying in the game and making yourself consistently valuable is definitely possible.

Rey BangoRey Bango is a Tuts+ Code Editor and developer evangelist at Telerik. You can find him on his website, Twitter, or on Google+.
by Sharon Milne, Tuts+ Vector & Drawing Editor
Why It Pays to Write Tutorials

I’ve been obsessed with vector art for over 10 years now. When I say obsessed, I mean that I have sat with nothing on my mind, scanning the room for objects which would be interesting to render in vector. I’ve had dreams where I’m a tool in Adobe Illustrator. I’ve often stared at people in public thinking, “Damn, they’d make an awesome subject for a vector portrait.” There’s nothing I find more relaxing than to vector a complex illustration.

If we rewind back to four years ago, I wasn’t in the line of work I am now. I was in a government job, doing monotonous tasks I had no passion for. I would have loved to make a career out of my passion—I just lacked confidence. I was confident enough to post my illustrations online in the usual art communities out there and had even built up a following of thousands, but when it came to the idea of people paying for my work, I didn’t think I was good enough. I had an interest in writing tutorials and, within the communities I was a part of, I used to share the odd trick or tip for others. I got a kick out of helping people learn.

When I first started looking at becoming a freelancer, I looked at the paths of others in my field. I asked questions about how they got started, and many came back saying they entered the freelance world by writing tutorials. It seemed natural for me to take a similar path.

by Matt Ward, Tuts+ Software Developer
Tuts+ report card

Now that we’re charging into 2014, it feels only befitting to stop and reflect on the year just gone, and look a little closer at our achievements. Sometimes we’re all too focused on delivering “things” and staying abreast in our respective fields to be able to recognise each other’s efforts, and the accomplishments we have been able to achieve as a team.

The Tuts+ library continues to expand yearly and it was only during the recent migration to the new Tuts+ design that the technical team started to truly appreciate the sheer volume of content that has been accumulated.

In the past six years we have published 17,817 posts contributed by a global collective of 2,699 authors across 13 topics (excluding Tuts+ Premium). These numbers are truly remarkable and the best part is that all this learning material is available to everyone for free! This article serves to recognise some of the efforts of the members of our team and community.

Tuts+ Tidbits February

Here’s the scoop on what’s been going on this month on Tuts+.

  • The big news comes first. All of our free tutorials, interviews, resources and articles are now moved across to the new Tuts+ design! Check it out over at hub.tutsplus.com.
  • In line with that move, we tweaked a couple of things in our Privacy Policy, and added a statement about cookies (point 4.) to the ‘Behavioral Advertising and Cookies’ section.
  • For a limited time only, you can get yourself some sweet Tuts+ gear: t-shirts! Featuring a design by the very stylish Jacob Zinman-Jeanes, they’re bound to be a wardrobe staple.
  • We’re continuing to move the Tuts+ Premium library over to courses.tutsplus.com. New courses available for individual purchase include Photoshop for Photographers, Getting Good with Grunt and Magento Fundamentals. Heaps to learn!
  • We’ve got not one but TWO new free courses. Fundamentals of Photography, with photo & video expert David Bode, and Vector Portraits for Beginners with our very own vector superstar Sharon Milne.
  • There are some new faces on the Tuts+ team! A big welcome to Amanda (who’ll be working on web dev courses) and Steph (who’ll be tackling support, QA and community development, among other things).
There’s a lot going on in HQ at the moment, so check back soon! 

— Jess Hooper

Tuts+ is part of Envato’s ecosystem of sites, designed to help people all over the world learn new skills and build their own businesses online. Envato’s CEO has a question for you: what should our vision be for 2020?

As a company built around fostering communities, it’s important that we involve everyone who uses our sites in this discussion. To have your say, check out the entire post over on Inside Envato, and leave a comment or fill out the form linked there. 

by David Appleyard, Tuts+ Editorial Manager
Looking Back and Looking Forward

The past year has been an exciting time for Tuts+. We started the first chapter in a story that we plan to continue for years to come and, although we’re just getting going, it’s good to take a look back as a new year begins!

by Xavier Russo, Strategy and Marketing Manager

Today I’m pleased to announce that selected courses from Tuts+ are now available for individual purchase on courses.tutsplus.com for just $15 each, together with a growing range of free courses. This is all about additional choice: previously you could subscribe on Tuts+ Premium to access all courses but only for a limited period of time, and now you have the extra alternative of buying an individual course for long-term access.

This is a fairly big change for us, so I wanted to take a few minutes to share why we’re doing it and how input from our readers has guided these decisions. I’d also like to explain our philosophy on simple, straightforward pricing, and why you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for a discount coupon.

by Jacob Zinman-Jeanes, Tuts+ Creative Lead
One of the hobbies I don't have is gardening

Nobody has ever asked me if I have hobbies. I assume that this is poor luck on my part, rather than any lack of interest on theirs. Either way, I have expended much mental energy on making the decision that if somebody were to ask me about my hobbies, I would tell them that I don’t have any.

My luxury, as a designer, is that my avocations intersect neatly with my working life. I play music, I paint, I collect nice clothing, and I own lots of mid-century furniture. These things inform my sense of creative style, and create an atmosphere that inspires me—something which I think is vital to my development as a creative individual.

I take the things I do outside of work seriously. I dedicate myself to them. I have pride in the outputs of my time and effort—be it artwork, music, or putting some water on a plant (read: gardening) and watching it blossom (read: wilt). To me, calling that output (whether successful or not), the product of a ‘hobby’ devalues it.

It isn’t the concept of a hobby that I find disagreeable, it’s the implication of the word. Calling my pursuits ‘hobbies’ minimises accountability, minimises the effect of failure, and maybe even minimises the personal value that I assign to those pursuits. A hobby is a mindset of which I want no part.

That is why I do not have hobbies. Instead, I have passions and interests, and things that I spend too much time and money on. And they’re all worth so much more to me than a hobby could be.

imageJacob Zinman-Jeanes is the Tuts+ Creative Lead. He is a designer, illustrator and musician. You can find him on his website, and Twitter.
Monday Morning Roundup

The Tuts+ team are a diverse bunch, with a whole variety of interests and fields of expertise. Here’s a roundup of what’s caught their eye over the weekend. I recommend pairing it with a nice cup of coffee for a bit of first-thing learning.

Hope you’ve got a good week in store! 

— Jess Hooper

by David Appleyard, Tuts+ Editorial Manager
Tuts+ and Envato Marketplaces staff and community meet in London

Although our tutorials and courses reach millions of people every month, the opportunity to meet our readers in person doesn’t come around as often as I’d like. The same is true for our editorial team. We have over twenty editors around the world, from the UK and France, to Thailand and Australia. We talk regularly on Skype, but it’s never quite the same as meeting in person for a few days.

This month, we organised a joint Tuts+ and Envato Marketplaces meetup in London—our first event in the UK. We flew in our editorial team from across Europe to attend a community night for local Tuts+ readers and Envato Marketplace buyers and authors.