(from someone who gets hired to handle your upgrades)

Does the following sound familiar?

You found product/market fit and have since grown a small-to-medium size software engineering team. A few of your developers have been around for a majority of your application’s lifespan, but most of your team is somewhat new.

You hired additional developers because the cycle time was slowing. Your team is experiencing some growing pains. They’re focused on what’s next in the Product Backlog and keeping things stable for your end-users. They’ve been doing a pretty good job at that.

As new team members have come in…


…video killed the podcast wanna-be-⭐️

Around a year ago, I was chatting with a good friend about an idea I had for a podcast. Over the last several years, I’ve learned that I’ve become really focused on improving existing software over building something new.

I’m not a maker. That is somewhat true, I prefer to spend more of my time improving something than making something from scratch.

The concept for the Maintainable podcast was to challenge myself with finding a diverse collection of experienced professionals from our industry — and to hear their stories about how they played a part…


Maintainable Software Podcast

First off, do we really need — another — podcast about software development?

For a number of years, I’ve been kicking around the idea of starting a podcast to talk with people about software but really felt like it’s a saturated market. I kept telling myself that I wouldn’t pursue anything that was focused on a specific technology choice (i.e., Robby on Rails almost graduated to be a podcast several times over the last 15 years?). I also have very little interest in talking about “what’s shiny/new/hot in our industry”, either.

There are plenty of podcasts for that.

Last year…


Cultivate our industry’s next generation of talent while improving your team’s mentorship skills.

Running tech internships at Planet Argon has become a regular activity. We’ve had nine separate interns this year (2018) alone and will have around the same number next year. We’re a small company (< 12 employees)…yet we find a way to make this work well for our interns and ourselves.


We recently published the final results from our semi-biennial survey that we’ve been conducting for nearly a decade. Over 2,000 Rails developers responded from 72 different countries across the globe. We posted a collection of articles about a few of the results that caught our attention:

In addition, I’ve prepared a short video presentation to talk through further data points that were a bit surprising…while injecting my take on what might be contributing to them.

Are Rails developers keeping their…


Whether I am researching solutions, writing code, or organizing my email…I’m usually doing that with some music in the background in my headphones.

When I’m in this mode — I try to remove music with vocals so that I can focus on my task on hand and less on the stories being shared. So, I tend to always be on the lookout for new instrumental music to put on as my daily soundtrack.

Recently, I decided to start curating a few new playlists and wanted to share.

Here is one that now has over six hours of music from instrumental…


The majority of Ruby on Rails applications that we provide long-term maintenance and development on are inherited. Our clients usually bring applications to us that were originally built by a freelancer, in-house developers, or another agency.

Over a dozen years of working on apps, I believe we do our best work when improving and evolving existing Ruby on Rails application.

One of the best aspects about Ruby on Rails community is that when conventions are followed we’re able to dive in fairly quickly to an existing code base and have a sense of how things fit together.

But inheriting a…


Me wandering San Francisco. 1998, pre-Dot-Com bubble.

Confession. I have become bored with most startup entrepreneurs.

Lucky me. I have the benefit of meeting a wide array of business owners and stakeholders. Getting to speak with these folks is one of the great joys of running a software consulting company.

…but I have a confession. I have become bored with most startup entrepreneurs.

A decade ago, you could find me enamored with a budding startup founder’s vision. I would be enthusiastic about most of their projects. So many innovative ideas were getting pitched, started, and built.

Reflecting back, I am reminded that most of those businesses no longer exist. …


Turning Big Decisions Into Short-Term Pilot Programs

In a board meeting recently, the organization shared their desire to drop a program. As they shared their rationale, I reflected on the conversations a few years prior. At that time, the organization wanted to address a large pain point in their operations. We had many discussions leading to an approval of an investment of time and budget.

Two years later, we found ourselves questioning why it was a surprise that it hadn’t been the success we hoped for.

The organization lacked a clear consensus on how we would measure the program’s success. …


Two years ago, we signed the Portland TechTown Diversity Pledge with a number of other local tech organizations.

At the time, we were ignorant on many aspects of the issues in our industry.

Today I say, with confidence, that we’re less ignorant of the issues. But we still have a long way to go.

Earlier today, Prosper Portland published the results that outline the progress (and non-progress) of Portland’s tech community over the last two years.

Our team was able to contribute to this project by donating time to design and develop a microsite to highlight the results of this…

Robby Russell

Founding partner / VP Engineering @PlanetArgon. Creator of @OhMyZsh. Ruby on Rails developer. Musician in @mightymissoula.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store