Things I've Learnt from 12 Devs of Xmas 2016

The fifth series of articles for the 12 Devs of Xmas has drawn to a close, and what a great series it was too! I'm always making notes and picking up tips when I read the articles daily so instead of keeping them to myself, I thought I'd share what I've enjoyed from each article here.

DAY 1: Presents From Your Favourite Browsers

Adam kicks off the series with a conversation with evangalists from the leading browser vendors (sans Safari). The group discuss what's coming up in 2017 and what they're all looking forward to.

Personally, I'm super keen to see CSS GRID in the wild. I'm having some fun playing with that offline at the moment! 'Progressive Web Apps' have also grabbed my interest big time.


Ahh, CSS; how I love thee. There's lots coming up in CSS in the near-future and Stu Robson shares some of the more interesting elements. As I said above, I'm really keen to see GRID make an appearance in stable builds of browsers, that'll be good!

Stu also mentions CSS Variables. This isn't something I've looked at as I build with Sass which has variables built in but this'll be on my radar this year. CSS Scroll Snap Points isn't something I've heard of before but sounds intriguing!

DAY 3: A Crash Course in Creative SVG for Developers

SVG... the thing that normally breaks my brain... normally. Elisabeth Irgens does a great job of simplifying SVG and provides some handy tips to providing colour and strokes to SVG. I'll be revisiting this article many times this year as I incorporate more SVG into my work!

DAY 4: A Christmas Carol for the Web Future

This was an interesting article for me. I've not paid much attention to WebVR in the past as I've always thought it was for hardware like the Oculus Rift or something equally as expensive and more gaming related... Ada talks about using WebVR for the web and I hadn't appreciated that the Google Cardboard or similar devices worked too! I have a few of these laying around at home so it'd be good to experiment more with VR as a new technology later in the year.

DAY 5: Learning from Elm

I know literally nothing of Elm other than the odd article here or there (or generally Jack tweeting... and what '12 Devs' series is complete without an article from Jack?

So knowing nothing about Elm, this has been an eye opener and an introduction to the language, it's strengths and weaknesses and it's similarity to JS. I'll be honest though, I'm still wrapping my head around the basics of JS so this was kinda over my head but never-the-less, it's been good to get some exposure to Elm and its methods of working!

DAY 6: Lessons My Students Have Taught Me

This was a great article from Jo Franchetti. I really enjoyed the positiveness that Jo shared regarding mentoring and teaching.

There is nothing like teaching to improve your own knowledge — Jo Franchetti

The above quote stuck with me and it's along the lines of what I hear a lot of people saying when it comes to writing. Even if you think everyone knows what you want to share, it'll always help those following in your foot steps.

I want to write more this year, and it'll generally be what I learn, or what I've done in the hope that other people can learn to!

DAY 7: Getting Kids into Coding

With two young kids myself, this post was really interesting and relevant to me. Both kids are now of an age where they're understanding computers a bit more now but I'll soon be pushing that boundry and getting the kids involved so all round clever dude, Ben Seymour wrote this article at the right time!

Ben has been running Code Clubs for 4 years now so is well versed and experienced in encouraging younger children to code in order to develop future skills, confidence and learning ability! Who wouldn't want that for the next generation right?

I've also got a few Raspberry Pi's laying around at home too so also hearing about Ben's code.Parents() initiative is super handy! Code.Parents() is a great resource to help people support children as they learn and explore coding.

DAY 8: Functional Programming Stocking Fillers

It's always handy, as a programming learner to read articles like this and Katie Fenn has done a great job of collating some handy tips. curried functions and composition looks especially interesting. The "Old Macdonald Had a Farm" nursery rhyme example might work well in tandem with Ben's article from Day 7 and the kids :)

DAY 9: The Human Side of Open Source

A great long form read on the human aspect of getting involved with Open Source code. I took a good look at 24PullRequests in December (submit PR's to open source projects) and that got me thinking about helping where I could with Open Source. Sadly, the old imposter syndrome took over and I did nothing. Emma's post has come at a great time for me as it deals with the human side of Open Source. Discussions, listening and learning, volunteering and providing feedback. Lots to read and think about!


A lot of my work this past 2 or 3 years has been on the WordPress platform. Building out custom sites and themes for clients or tweaking the odd pre-purchased theme. The WP-REST API has been something I've been meaning to get stuck in to for a while now and Sam Miller provides a great starting point for anyone looking to learn more.

These three points have really grabbed my interest


On the penultimate day, Sarah Wells introduces us to the Nudge Theory. It's not a term I've heard of before so here's a brief quote:

a ‘nudge’ is essentially a means of encouraging or guiding behaviour — David Halpern, Inside the Nudge unit

Ok, that makes sense. The article also has a bunch of examples of ways where we're encouraged to do something rather than penalised for not doing it... perhaps penalised is the wrong word. One example would be signs suggesting most people put their litter in bins so the general public would follow that suggestion rather than imposing fines for littering on the floor... I guess like a social influence?

The psychological side of things... nice.

There really are some great examples in this post of the nudge theory and how that can be applied to the web / software development.

DAY 12: Beat 'Dis: Re-addressing Audio Analysis

On the final day of 12 Devs, Ruth John demonstrates the powers of the Web Audio API and JS by creating a real time display based on the music.

There's a lot here to take in but Ruth explains the theory well. Music interests me a lot, I used to DJ in my youth and still fawn over the idea of setting up my system again (kids took over and there was no room or time to continue) and reading this gets me even more excited. I have visions of hooking a raspberry pi up to some lighting and having code like Ruth's firing a light show at home to my beat.

One day...


And so we have it. My notes on the 12 articles from 12 Devs of Xmas. It's been a fantastic read this year. Adam has done a sterling job of curating the authors and articles. Congrats and we all hope you've enjoyed this series :)

If you haven't already, I do hope you will go and read the articles and then give @12devsofxmas a follow on twitter!