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Cover image for Why You Should Keep A Dev Diary
Ethan
Ethan

Posted on

Why You Should Keep A Dev Diary

Introduction

Hello! πŸ˜€
In this post I will explain my reasons why I keep a dev diary and why it will benefit you in your dev life.


Reasons to keep a dev diary

My personal reasons for keeping a dev diary are as follows:

  • I use it to plan my TODOs for the day
  • It allows me to memorise the increasing number of API keys etc
  • Any errors I encounter I note them down as well as how I solved the issue
  • By jotting down any errors, you can use the search feature to find the same error if you encounter it in the future. Sort of like a personal Stack Overflow.
  • It allows me to note any ideas for future reference
  • Allows me to keep track of time/progress and any unfinished tasks
  • It notifies me the next day of what leftover tasks still need to be completed
  • It gives future me a laugh, when I look back at the memo's I wrote a year ago πŸ˜…

How I lay out my dev diary

I always start with the day's TODO/s, ordered from the most important to the least important.

Then I give each todo a separate heading, I then actually start working on the todo, noting anything important including any problems/errors etc I encounter. Any problems encountered I always right the solution and how I solved it as well as tagging the error for future reference.

At the end I write what still needs to be done and what I need to do Tomorrow.

The software I use to do this used to be Evernote, but recently I've switched to a tool called "Joplin" which is free to use and open source. Notes can also be backed up to DropBox/Self Hosted Server.

https://joplinapp.org/


Conclusion

Here I have shared my reasons why every dev should keep a dev diary.
I've personally been keeping a diary for over 2 years now, yes it does take time to update it etc. But I feel for that time used my performance has sky rocketed. 😎

Please feel free to share if you keep a dev diary, if you do please give me your reasons for keeping one.

Happy Coding! πŸ€“

Top comments (18)

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allobrox profile image
Tamas Rigoczki • Edited on

You nicely stated why we should keep dev diary. The problem with it is that we have to keep it going. Aka documenting, and what devs hate to do?

Seriously, dev diary is a good tool. I have keeping something similar, files in a private git repo. Each technology/framework has its own file.

Yours is not a diary, more like a framework for organizing and documenting your work. Which is very beneficial. I would be interested in some screenshots about your diary work in progress.

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ethand91 profile image
Ethan Author

Yes with my approach you have to keep it going. πŸ˜…

Having a separate file for each technology/framework is also a good approach, I may have to try it out.

I would love to share screenshots however I don't think my employer would appreciate it. πŸ₯² I could try doing it with a side project and then sharing that.

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allobrox profile image
Tamas Rigoczki

I will be glad if you could do it with a side project sometime in the future.

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tqbit profile image
tq-bit

I'm using a similar technique using Obsidian. A colleague introduced me to dataview and I've never looked back since then, You can also backup everything to Gitlab or Github, completely for free. Perhaps that'd be something for you, too.

obsidian.md/

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allobrox profile image
Tamas Rigoczki

Thanks for sharing, I will try this out!

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ethand91 profile image
Ethan Author

Wow, thanks for sharing :)
Definitely have to try this out.

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kornatzky profile image
Yoram Kornatzky

I use Evernote. But just for keeping record of things to remember like articles, or configurations.

Surprisingly I discovered that it is best to use a plain paper notebook jot a few things while I develop.

Like a diary. Or an agenda for the day.

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ethand91 profile image
Ethan Author

Plain paper is also a good idea. Can write without having to switch screens etc.

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peterwitham profile image
Peter Witham

Thank you for laying out good reasons to do this along with an explanation of how. I have been keeping a dev diary using Day One. But I had not thought to include a daily todo list, this would make a nice addition.
Thanks.

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ethand91 profile image
Ethan Author

Your Welcome. :)

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wesleycheek profile image
Wesley Cheek

I find keeping a diary keeps me on track, like you describe. More than that though it helps me to organize my thoughts. When I'm feeling lost I can read back the last few days of brainstorming and it helps me to set my course again. I always try to stay focused on one problem at a time, and my diary helps me to do that. Thanks for the post.

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ethand91 profile image
Ethan Author

Your welcome :)
Yes it can also be a great brainstorming tool. Another great recommendation.

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fairolesia profile image
Olesia_Fair • Edited on

Can't upvote this enough. I also find that writing a dev diary helps to summarize what you're doing and help you to see where you're going, what are the milestones aheads, etc.

I use digital planner, which is largely split by project. Each project has:
Overview - what is the project, what are its goals, what will mark it done?

Learnings (these get turned into evergreen notes)

Resources - any links to information or tools that can help me - provide background etc. This can be internal links within my personal knowledgebase to whole pages or individual blocks.

Project Plan - A checklist of the project broken down into its constituent parts. Subparts denoted with indents. They're checked off when completed

Questions - Any questions that come up during the project. These will get linked to a daily task if I need to ask someone, but it's something I need or expect to need answered.

Daily Tasks - I'll tag a TODO with a date so that it turns up in my day's daily notes via a Dataview query.

Journal - each subheading under this is the date and has a narrative of what I did that da

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ethand91 profile image
Ethan Author

Thanks for the detailed comment. :)

I agree with keeping some form of notes for the project at hand. I may have to steal a couple of your ideas.
Thanks!

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guzbarraf profile image
Rafael GuzmΓ‘n Barranco

Hello Ethan, can you upload an example of how you do it, in a fictitious project with a couple of fictitious tasks and incidents? Greetings!

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ethand91 profile image
Ethan Author

Yeah sure, I'll write it up when I do my next project!

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electro_lab profile image
Electro Lab

Great idea, can you share with us example of yours diary? Thanks in advance.

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ethand91 profile image
Ethan Author

Thanks, hope it benefits you. πŸ˜„
Unfortunately my diary is not English, nor do I think my employer would like me sharing it. I could do it with a side project as an example though!

Take a look at this:

Settings

Go to your customization settings to nudge your home feed to show content more relevant to your developer experience level. πŸ›