Web Development Communities

A look through the places where web developers typically gather, both in_person and online.

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Developers are passionate builders and they often enjoy taking part in various communities and events, both online and off. As an aspiring developer, it's good for you to begin familiarizing yourself with these communities and how you can participate. All of these places have a space for beginning developers to at least observe and ask questions. Experienced devs often enjoy helping out eager learners as long as you are respectful and open-minded.

In-Person

Source: Club100.org

  • Meetups -- Check out your local Ruby, Rails, and Developer communities on Meetup. Odds are that you've got interesting meetups happening at least every several weeks if you're located near a city... like ours in San Francisco!

  • Hack Nights -- Hack nights are a type of in-person meetup designed to cater to casual collaboration. They're all run differently, but often you'll introduce yourself and what you're hoping to work on. Then you're free to work with or ask questions of others and enjoy the pizza, beer, and maybe even foosball while getting to know your fellow techies.

  • Hackathons -- Hackathons are more structured than hack nights and are typically set up as a team application-building contest, sometimes around a specific theme, API or dataset. They often start with idea pitches, then teams are formed, and then you have a short period of time (say 12-36 hours) to build the thing before presenting to a panel of judges. Fueled by caffeine and beer, some pretty awesome stuff can come out of these and they're another great way to meet local developers.

    Some of the more widespread hackathons include AngelHack and, in a similar vein in the startup space, Startup Weekend.

  • Conferences -- Conferences will tend to cluster around tech hubs but the keynotes are usually available online. They can be fairly expensive (since often the participants get sponsored by their businesses) but good networking events if you're the social type.

  • Hacker Spaces -- Sometimes, dedicated students, hackers and engineers will finagle a space and fill it with old gadgets and focus on building cool stuff. There are usually strong communities around these spaces, and how exactly they operate is totally case-by-case.

  • School Clubs -- This will vary heavily depending on geography but your local high school or college will probably have some sort of technology clubs, so be sure to check that out if you're looking for like-minded folk.

Online

Hacker News Front Page

  • Hacker News -- HN is the community around the Y Combinator startup accelerator and it's a link-submission board that's got some of the best quality startup- and tech-related discourse on the web.
  • Github -- Less an active community than a gathering place, github is the place where you can find and contribute to almost any of the open-source projects out there.
  • Stack Overflow -- Stack, mentioned above, is a great community where you're encouraged to ask and answer questions about a wide variety of programming topics.
  • IRC -- There are channels on this chat protocol for just about everything... it's like AOL Instant Messager or GChat for programmers. Learn more about it at IRCHelp.org's Help page.
  • Reddit's /r/programming and /r/learnprogramming -- Link submission, questions and commenting.
  • Blogs -- You should get familiar with the top blogs where the content interests you most, which will take a bit of time to figure out. The best ones often have active discussion threads at the end of each post.

    A couple to check out:

Specialty

RailsBridge workshop

Source: RailsBridge Blog

  • RailsBridge -- An outreach for aspiring Ruby-on-Rails developers that is emphatically female and LGBTQ friendly. Their weekend workshops are rapidly spreading.
  • Women Who Code is a large Meetup-based (for now) women's community that's spreading out across the country.
  • GirlDevelopIt is another women-focused community that puts on events all over the place.


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