Tag Archives: newsletter

making a front-end newsletter

I’ve been working at Udacity for a while now, where I’ve been teaching front-end web development. While I spend most of my time making classes, we recently started working on a newsletter too. Below, I’m attaching a short story that should give you some insight into what most days at Udacity are like.

It was 11am on the Tuesday before we launched the front-end Nanodegree when the front-end course developers [people who actually design and make the classes] finally started to discuss how we were going to make the newsletter.

This is something we’ve been looking forward to for a while. We all love reading, watching and learning as much as possible about web development, which is the reason we love making courses in the first place. But sometimes we have the problem of being too enthusiastic.

Mike, the web development curriculum manager, started off the conversation about what to include in the newsletter with something along the lines of, “OK, we should write an educational blog post or two. Nothing preachy. Not marketing-y either. Just helpful information.” We all thought that sounded reasonable.

He then followed up with, “And we should DEFINITELY include HUNDREDS OF LINKS to all the cool stuff we can find!”

To put this conversation in perspective, on the day before this meeting I was in a discussion at lunch with Mike and a few other people about which Chrome Extensions are best for managing browser tabs. I don’t use a Chrome Extension to manage browser tabs because my browsing habits haven’t become addictions yet. Mike does because, from what I could gather, at any given time his computer has more open tabs than all of the bars in San Francisco combined. He reads something like 10 or 20 front-end blogs every day and opens every single link he comes across.

We asked Mike to calm down a little bit. “OK,” he conceded, “maybe like 20 links.”

I don’t remember who said it but we pretty much unanimously responded with, “How about 5 really good links?”

“Yeah, with a sentence or two description for each,” I said.

There was lots of nodding. Then Clark, the project manager for web development classes, grinned like he was a little too proud of himself. “Hey, what if we had… 4 links?”

James, my co-instructor in JS Basics, wanted to chime in too. “Let’s do either 3 or 5 links. It should be an uneven number.”

“… I believe that’s called an odd number.”


At that point, we were pretty tired of thinking about how many links belong in a newsletter. And lunch had arrived.

“Four links it is then!”

Meeting adjourned.

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