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What this "Full Context" stuff is all about?
A simple explanation of the core concept and mission of my work
Hey Full Context Developer,
Maybe you are new around here, or perhaps you already read some of my previous posts yet still wonder what exactly "Full Context Development” means. Regardless of how long you have been following along, this post will serve as a simple introduction to what this is all about, my vision and mission for this newsletter and how all this can improve your life. Let’s start with the core question.
What is Full Context Development?
It’s two things:
A mindset - a specific way of looking at role of a software engineer
A toolset - a system that helps you to analyze the impact of technical decisions using that mindset
I came up with them while working on my online book of the same name. These are what I use to analyze the tech tools, form my opinions and hopefully provide more objective, valuable insights that go beyond the hype. You can read more about them a few paragraphs later. (After the sign up CTA)
What about this newsletter?
I love programming, I love to lose myself in discovering interesting, new tools and approaches to development that push the boundaries of what technology can achieve today. But…
I also see that there are huge financial incentives in the industry to hype up the tech we create. Open source technologies are no exception nor tech content creators who stream, teach, write about or promote these. (Quite hypocritically it holds true for me just as well)
As a former lead frontend developer I had to learn how to look at all my decisions with the perspective of serving the customers and solving real, human problems. I tried to document and refine that perspective in my book and after its financial failure (and recovering from it to some extent) I decided to share what I learned in a much more interesting and engaging format. (Yes, that book is boring as hell)
With this newsletter I want to go against the mainstream tech hype and sound another voice, show another perspective, one that takes a more objective approach, focusing on if and how all the new stuff can be used to solve or even to eliminate real human problems.
I want to provide you with a weekly collection of short overviews about the trending tools or other material I report on with this focus. All that so you can:
🔥 Have fun while I burn those who baselessly hype things up
🧭 Learn how to make better, impact focused technical decisions
My hope and mission is to enable every programmer to enjoy the hype, which is quite enjoyable for sure, without succumbing to fake promises, overblown significance or dead end decisions by teaching you the Full Context way of evaluating tech stuff. So basically I want to be the tie & mast.
But I also have a much larger vision
Which sounds quite impossible or just waaay too ambitious. But that’s how a vision should be. It makes me feel uncomfortably vulnerable to share this as who knows how much of it will I manage to realize, if any, but.
I want to teach every programmer how to make the best tech decisions possible.
So many software engineers are asking for advice all the time: What’s the best tool to use? What’s the best approach to take? I want to create an easy to follow and practical guideline for everyone to answer those questions in their given context. I wish that the Full Context system would be the perfect tool for that, but it certainly isn’t, hopefully just not yet.
I have been working in this field for nearly 9 years but my experience is still lacking to really pull this off. I don’t know a lot about making the best tech decisions. But I will continue on the road to get there. I will learn in the public and I hope to learn from you as well. Please share your ideas and insights with me. Am I wrong? Tweet me. Am I missing something? Drop a comment down below. Do you know of a better way? Message me on LinkedIn!
Together, I'm convinced, it's possible to build the future where every programmer has a tool that makes making the best tech decisions easy.
This newsletter is a small step towards that goal. Sadly this step is all I can take right now as a full time employee, husband and father of two adorable little girls. (Even now as I’m writing this the clock is at 2:59 AM)
But I’m sure if this is the right thing to aim for a road will open up. And I can’t wait to see what that will be!
Thanks for reading these ideas that are so precious to me! If you want to follow how this journey will continue or support me on it, please subscribe to my newsletter.
Now that the inspirational stuff is over we can get back to the original topic. What that mentality and toolkit really is about.
I hope everything that follows won’t be a prerequisite to enjoying the newsletter but knowing about the main concepts will definitely help to get the most out of it. So let’s cut the chase and go straight to the heart of it:
The meaning of Full Context Development is to take responsibility for every effect of the tech choices we make.
This stems from my view about the real job of a developer. Here’s a part of my summary from the book:
Software, in its essence, is a solution to human problems. First is the problem of the user, the reason why they need a product. The second is the problem of the business, a means to achieve their mission. The third is the problem of the developer, their love for the profession and need for a living. Accordingly, we have 3 jobs, to solve the user's problems and sustain the business all the while taking care of our own needs.
And we can do that best when we know and think about all the effects of our decisions, even those that go beyond code or software. That’s what I call the Full Context mindset.
The Full Context system is a way that helps you to do exactly that in a well defined manner, while hiding entire layers of business complexity from you.
These will help you to put your everyday decisions into the full context of your job. The result should be better alignment with the real goals of the products we create and the companies we work for. Or your own company. Or your clients’ companies. In turn it will increase your impact and boost your chances of career progression.
The most compact description of that system is in this part of my Next.js review. Take a look if you have the drive to dig into more details.
In short, and without much explanation the Full Context system maps how the 5 Impact Factors (CPU-DB) are connected to the 4 Pillars of Business Value (RIP-CAR) and gives you a method to roughly quantify a tech decision’s impact on them using Impact Points. (See in the first link).
However for the newsletter I replaced the usage of Impact Points with Impact Categories. I believe the point system is too abstract to easily grasp the scale it represents so I came up with a simplified version.
The ultimate goal is still the same, I want to show you how the ideas or (mainly frontend) tools & technologies can influence business results (read: profit). The 5 key areas that connect tech to the bottom line are unchanged: CPU-DB. But now I’m using the following categories to show the scale of influence across these 5 dimensions:
Unit - An elementary part: a person, a single metric, a user
Group - A group of units: a team, a user type / persona, a quarterly target
Organization - Groups working together for common goals: a department, a user group, a market segment, strategic goals
System - The whole of the related dimension: the whole market, the whole company, the whole budget, every user in the customer lifecycle, every developer
This is just to give you a rough idea. I want to add further details in a dedicated post.
I also have an interactive tool to visualize these connections at the very end of the Code to Money roadmap.
To put it simply, Full Context Developer === Gigachad Software Engineer
I hope I answered more questions than those I created with this post. If you still have some and care to ask, feel free to reach out here in the comments, or Twitter, or LinkedIn. That would make my day! You can even…
I’m super happy that you read (or scrolled ) till the end! I feel speechless that people actually do that! If you enjoyed this post and/or found it valuable please consider sharing it with your friends and colleagues.
I’m at a very early stage of building this Substack publication so even the smallest extra visibility can make a huge difference. My wholehearted thanks if you help with that!
See you in the next one!