Massively increase your productivity on personal projects with comprehensive documentation and automated tests

Oct 17 4:40 PM PDT :calendar: to 5:05 pm

About This Talk

When I worked for a company that grew to have an engineering team spanning three continents I learned that the only way to keep things productive was to embrace comprehensive documentation and automated tests.

Then I decided to see if the techniques that worked for software development at large team sizes could scale down to my personal projects with a team size of one.

I expected that embracing comprehensive testing and documentation for my personal projects would slow me down. To my surprise, they had the opposite effect: I have found that my productivity has increased by an order of magnitude through my embrace of testing and documentation.

This has worked even for projects where I am the only maintainer and the only end-user. I find myself able to actively maintain dozens of projects by acting like I’m part of a much larger team. I can return to a project a year later having forgotten everything about it and be up-to-speed and productively hacking on changes in just a few minutes.

I’ll talk you through my test and documentation-driven development process, and give you a whole bag of actionable tricks that you can apply to both your personal projects and your work in larger teams.

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Presenters

    Photo of Simon Willison

    Simon Willison

    Simon Willison is the creator of Datasette, an open source tool for exploring and publishing data. He recently completed a JSK journalism fellowship at Stanford, during which he focused on building open source tools for journalism based on his experience working as a data journalist at the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

    Prior to the fellowship, Simon was an engineering director at Eventbrite. Simon joined Eventbrite through their acquisition of Lanyrd, a Y Combinator funded company he co-founded in 2010.

    He is a co-creator of the Django Web Framework, and has been blogging about web development and programming since 2002 at https://simonwillison.net/