100 Articles in the Books: A Personal Retrospective

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100 Articles in the Books: A Personal Retrospective

Using the Sprint Retrospective metaphor, Zone Leader John Vester looks back at his 99 articles to see on which went well, and not so well, and take a look to the future.

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This article is a personal milestone for me, as it marks the 100th article I have written since joining the Zone Leader program in late 2015. After years of writing on my personal blog and writing about my experience playing the video game Crysis, I asked the team at DZone to take a chance on letting me write for them as a freelancer. I am so glad DZone agreed and gave me this wonderful opportunity!

For the 100th article, I thought I would look back at some of the articles I have written for DZone. Consider this my personal retrospective for a 99 article Sprint.

The Top Three

As of 03/31/2017, the three articles which appear to have had the biggest impact on readers at DZone are listed below:

  • The Sky Is Falling: Oracle (Might) Want Your Money for Java SE in 2017 - Built upon an article (not on DZone) that made the assertion that Oracle might be seeking money from end-users for Java SE usage in 2017, I wrote the article to reflect my personal findings in hopes to clear up any confusion.

  • Code Commenting Patterns - After coming across some comical comments in a codebase I had recently cloned, I thought it would be fun to provide examples of comments that I have viewed over the years.

  • Building a Random Generator - This is the first article in a series to discuss a library I created over the 2016 holiday break to assist with a mobile application that I was planning to refactor. I spent so much time working on a Random Generator that I still have not focused on the mobile app that will use the library. It is still on my personal to-do list, though.

The Bottom Two

My approach to writing articles is to first begin with the idea. This often ends up in a simple text document within Sublime Text on my computer. At this point, the idea is a one-liner to capture the core concept that is on my mind. Once I am ready to work on the article, I spawn a new article, again using Sublime Text, to write the TL;DR section and an outline of the headers. Once I have enough headers, I begin writing the article.

My goal is to provide an insightful article that can be read within 5 to 10 minutes. The plan for each article is to present a topic that will appeal to a variety of readers on the DZone publication. Sometimes, however, the articles don't seem to have the appeal that I envisioned in my mind.

Below, are two examples that didn't interest readers as much as I had hoped:

  • Can IT Research Firms Be Bought? -  This was an article I decided to write after hearing critics of IT research firms indicate that their findings were only as good as the money they received from the vendors whose products and services were being reviewed.

  • Interviewing the Xtern Interns - Provided a summary of the candidates I interviewed as part of the process to place college students in summer internships. While the article did not gain the popularity I had hoped for, the program is a wonderful opportunity for college students.

My Favorite Three

Finally, I wanted to bring up three of my favorite articles, which didn't fall into the categories above:

  • How Watching Dateline Real-Life Mysteries Helped My IT Career - As a huge fan of Dateline Real-Life Mysteries on the NBC network, I could not help but wonder what learning opportunities existed for IT professionals from watching the series.

  • Confession... I Cheated During Planning Poker - This was written shortly after a Sprint Planning session where one of our developers was caught "spacing out" and didn't know how to score the story being discussed.

  • Star Wars: A Programmer's Life - This is an article that looks at a programmer's life during the three different eras when the Star Wars movies were released. The biggest learning point for me was the realization that SQL has existed as long as it has. Truly amazing.

Looking Ahead

As I look ahead, I am excited for the articles that are currently in my backlog. A couple that are at the top of my list:

  • Domino to Force Series - My next series that will focus on converting a Lotus Domino application to the Force platform used to deliver Salesforce applications.

  • A Couple Big Interviews - Through connections at DZone, I am excited to speak with technical leadership for two corporations which are certainly household names ... at least in IT households.


I decided to use a Sprint Retrospective approach for my 100th article - noting what articles went well, which ones did not work so well and taking a look at what lies ahead in the future. I am excited for the articles I have planned in the immediate future and can't wait to reflect back when I reach the 200-article milestone - which should be some time in 2018.

Have a really great day!

agile, agile adoption, devlife, sprint retrospective

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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