11 Influential Web Developers You Should Be Following
“There is no such thing as a ‘self-made' man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.”
– George Matthew Adams
One major lesson I have learned in my career and in life in general is that if you want to be successful, find others who are already being successful at doing what you want to do, and do what they do.
I thought I’d share in this post some of the web developers, (although I hate to classify anyone so narrowly), that I follow and that have inspired me or provided me with great resources or advice.
This guy just recently schooled me on responsive web design. Best part is he did it in a way that made me actually feel smarter and not like I was stupid. Hard to find someone so brilliant with so much tact.
If you want to know about responsive design, listen to Brad Frost. He is laying out the future of responsive design and blazing trails in every direction.
I haven’t ever had the chance to hear Brad speak myself, but I hear that he is an excellent speaker as well. I definitely plan to try to attend one of his sessions in the future.
Brad makes extremely compelling and convincing arguments about the things he believes in and it is really hard to argue with someone who checks all their facts and knows what they are talking about.
Brad has put together an excellent resource called This Is Responsive that contains lots of great information about responsive design.
Christian is the Principal Developer Evangelist of the Mozilla Developer Network. I have to tell you, I really like this guy. I’ve only had a couple of conversations with him on Twitter, but he seems to genuinely care about making the web a better place.
He is extremely well spoken and has an awesome German accent—oh, and he also knows what he is talking about. He’s written many articles and blogs posts for Ajaxain, Smashingmag, Yahoo, Mozilla, ScriptJunkie and others. And his Twitter stream is legendary. If you want to know what is going on in the web world, check out his stream.
Dan is a very experienced web developer that has kept up with the changing tides in web development. He is the founder and owner of The Wahlin Group where he provides consulting and training on web technologies.
Lately Dan has been producing a huge amount of great content about Angular.js, including his very popular AngularJS Magazine on Flipboard.
Glenn is another one of those developers who seems to have a contagious passion for development that you can’t help but catch. Glenn is always doing something cool that I want to learn about. He was involved in all kinds of cool things at Microsoft like Web API, Azure and MEF.
Glenn Block, until recently, had been a PM at Microsoft, working on—you’ll never guess it—that’s right, node.js. How cool is that? He was one of the main guys to bring node.js on Windows to Azure. I like how Glenn is able to combine these two separate worlds and make them make sense. I consider Glenn to be very pragmatic.
Glenn is now working for Splunk, and I am sure he’ll do amazing things there as well.
Oh, and I almost forgot. Glenn actually combined C# with node.js and birthed scriptcs, a way to write C# code without compiling. Pretty cool stuff.
John is an awesome developer and an awesome guy. He used to be a technical evangelist for Microsoft on Silverlight and much of his training and guidance was on using Silverlight.
But, after Silverlight… died, John found a way to reinvent himself and now is highly respected as an expert on SPA or Single Page Applications. He is an amazing and inspiring example of how a person can redirect their career and use their existing strengths and knowledge to go in a different direction when needed.
John also is one of the most talented technical speakers that I have ever heard. He speaks at conferences all over the world and even used to host the Silverlight TV show on Channel 9.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet John in person at the Orlando Code Camp and even interviewed him on an episode of my Get Up and CODE podcast, and I can tell you he is a genuinely nice and kind person as well.
I like Kelly because she is transparent and passionate about development. It is rare to find anyone who is so excited about technology and learning.
Both her blog and Twitter stream are constantly filled with valuable information. Some of the things she talks about and writes about make my brain hurt. For example, she wanted to learn about how to write very high performance code, so what did she do? Oh, just learned C and wrote her own HTTP server called Haywire.
Many developers are ok with surface level answers to questions, but not Kelly, she keeps digging and digging until she finds a real answer that makes sense. If you want to learn how to learn, follow Kelly. (Plus, you have to love the name of her domain.)
Paul has had a huge impact on the modern web and although his blog isn’t updated all that often lately, it contains a huge amount of in-depth information about browsers and browser technology. I turn to Paul when I want to understand the deep questions of the web.
What I like about Paul is that sheet volume of code that he has written. He doesn’t just talk about technologies, he makes technologies.
Rob figures out ways to simplify complex things, which of course is something I really like. He owns a consulting company called Blue Spire and he speaks at many events and writes articles regularly at devlicio.us.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you’ve already heard of Scott Hanselman—it is hard to be involved in web development and not have heard of him.
Scott has this natural talent of cutting through the BS that is out there in the tech world and getting to the heart of the matter. He posts many things about the web and web development that other people are afraid to say or ask.
Scott also is the host of 3, that’s right, 3 podcasts. I’ve been listening to Hanselminutes for a long time and I’ve even had the honor of being on the show a few times.
He is also a very talented public speaker known for meticulously preparing every detail of his presentations and rehearsing them to a diamond-like polish.
One thing I really like about Scott is that he seems to reflect the interests of most software developers and technologists. His posts on all kinds of technical topics interesting to developers, not just web development and programming. Scott is diverse.
Troy is the person I trust more than anyone else to tell me what I need to know about security in today’s web world. Sure, everyone knows about SQL injection and salting passwords, but Troy’s knowledge goes far, far beyond that. Troy routinely finds big security vulnerabilities in production websites and posts about them.
If you are doing web development and you don’t want to get hacked, you better pay attention to what Troy says. His tweets and blog posts are like the bitter pill that you need to swallow if you want to live. Oh, and he is a pretty nice guy as well.
Also, a Pluralsight author with some excellent courses on security.
That’s my list, what is yours?
Obviously I can’t list every single influential person in web development that I rely on for advice and wisdom, but this is a pretty good list of some of the people I have found most helpful.
Getting good advice and mentorship is really important to advancing your career. I’m actually putting together a package of all my advice on career development that I have learned over the years, in a product that I’ll be launching sometime next year.
The project itself is still a bit secret, but sign up here if you are interested and I’ll be sure to let you know the moment it becomes available.
What about you? Who is your list of top resources for web development? Leave a comment and let me know. Also, if one of the developers I mentioned above has helped you, leave them some love in a comment.