Why Mind Maps are Awesomesauce

Brandon West Best Practices

About a year ago I started using mind maps to help me organize presentations, meeting topics and blog posts and I’ve found that it works really well for me. Mind maps help me take broad, abstract ideas and turn them into concrete, real world examples that I can use to help tell a story. What […]


Dirty Socks and Technical Debt

Brandon West Events

Last month I spent two weeks traveling to Mexico City, Bogotá, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro with Geeks on a Plane Latin America. This was my second GOAP trip; my first was last year’s trip to Eastern Europe. GOAP is an amazing professional and personal experience and I highly recommend it to everyone. Once […]


Why We Open Sourced Our Documentation

Brandon West Product, Technical

I talk a lot about docs, because it’s important to me and important for the success of a product. You can read some of my thoughts on what makes good documentation and using Jekyll to create documentation. One of the goals I set last year when I was asked to take over the documentation was […]


Creating Sustainable Documentation with Jekyll

Brandon West Company, Technical

I’ve spent a big part of the last year working on documentation for SendGrid. I’ve learned a lot of things. You can read about how we broke down the problem of documentation at a high level and why documentation is critical for success in Cheat Codes for Good Documentation. Below you’ll find the path we […]


Building a Conceptual Framework: How to Design Programs

Brandon West Technical

If you want to learn to code, it’s important to start building a conceptual framework so you can effectively communicate with developers. The book I recommended in that blog post, Simple Program Design, is a great start and will give you the basic tools you need to get going. You can go through the entire […]


Cheat Codes for Good Documentation

Brandon West Best Practices, Technical
Still my favorite Programming Manual

The Best Programming Manual

Everybody, especially developers, loves working on documentation. They understand the importance of docs and its impact on customer adoption and customer experience, and they always consider docs when planning and releasing code. Wait, why are you laughing?

Many companies have some kind of trouble with documentation. Lots of common problems make docs difficult to wrangle; information gets out of date or lacks completeness, the content is poorly organized or inconsistent, readers can’t find what they’re looking for, and code samples might be broken. If you walk through most engineering departments and ask for volunteers to help update docs, you’ll be met with silence if not outright derision.

The truth is that there are no cheat codes for creating a culture that values documentation or for creating quality content, but I’d like to share some practical things I’ve learned while trying to do just that at SendGrid, and hopefully give you a few extra lives (or at least some extra quarters) for your game.

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Two Years: A Long Time as an Evangelist

Brandon West Company

24 months. It doesn’t seem to add up; “Developer Evangelist” still seems like the job I just started. I guess after writing code for a third of my life, that’s true. Learning and doing new things keeps me busy enough that I haven’t paid much attention to time sneaking past me. You could say that […]


Learn to Code: Build a Conceptual Framework

Brandon West Technical

When we last talked about learning to code I recommended learning program design before jumping into choosing a program language and writing code. The hardest thing about learning new tech is getting the conceptual framework. My question may be simple, but I don’t know how to ask. — Sarah Allen (@ultrasaurus) July 4, 2013   Sarah […]


Advanced Statistics Available Via API

Brandon West Best Practices, Product, Technical

Earlier this year we added a few beta statistical reports that show you the location, device and browser information, and ISPs of the recipients that click and open the emails you send. We have been working hard on improving these reports and integrating them more fully with the rest of our offerings. You can now […]


Announcing the Official SendGrid Perl Library

Brandon West Company, Product, Technical
Good news, everyone!

Good news, everyone! We’ve open sourced an officially supported Perl library for SendGrid. We have used this library internally for some time and decided to release it for the community to use and improve. The readme on github has more information on how to get things going, but the code for sending a simple email […]


What’s in Your Developer Evangelist Travel Kit?

Brandon West Company

Evangelists arrive at airport gates with just enough time to board. They have stockpiles of frequent flyer miles and memberships in a variety of hotel loyalty programs. They know exactly how to pack their bag depending on where they’re heading and for how long. I asked a few fellow road warriors what ends up in […]


New SendGrid Documentation Launched

Brandon West Company, Product

Today SendGrid is excited to announce our new and improved documentation! Some of the highlights of the new system are: Quicker load times Improved navigation and organization More relevant search results Increased legibility Cleaner presentation of code samples Ability to toggle between JSON and XML examples The new system will allow us to collaborate on […]