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Launching NRELabs.io

(This has been cross-posted from the original post, located at packetpushers.net)

Wow, 2019 was a big year for NRE Labs. We had just launched at the end of 2018, so in many ways, 2019 was a year of growing up. We released several new versions of both the NRE Labs curriculum and the underlying Antidote platform, but we also put time and effort into establishing the NRE Labs community itself. We started holding weekly public standups. We created a governance document and a code of conduct. We moved all of the project’s communications to our public discussion platform.

I think, looking back, that 2019 was the year of laying the foundation. Like any nascent project, the tasks on everyone’s plate didn’t follow a consistent theme, or predictable rhythm - it was about getting the momentum going. So while we certainly saw a good number of contributions to the project, including the NRE Labs curriculum, this foundation is something we really want to capitalize on in 2020.

The mission for the NRE Labs project in 2020 is to make it just as easy to contribute NRE Labs content as it is to consume it. I think we really did a good job in solving the consumption problem for folks looking to learn advanced topics like automation - now, it’s time to do the same thing for those that already have this experience, and make it painless to share their experience using this hyper-interactive format.

New Domain, Improved Navigation

To put us on the right path to this goal, we’re announcing some major changes to the NRE Labs site today. You can find this new experience at (the highly anticipated, shorter domain) nrelabs.io, and I believe there are some very significant improvements for both the learner and the lesson author, with many more to come.

This is a fully redesigned NRE Labs experience that gives you everything you need in one place.

We’ve also moved the project documentation to docs.nrelabs.io/, and totally revamped how it’s presented. While there’s something there for everyone, we really optimized the documentation for new curriculum contributors. We will continue to invest in making this a seamless experience this year, but we think this is a solid step in the right direction.

Greatly Improved Learner Experience

In the last few months, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the actual learning experience within NRE Labs even more awesome, and I think this new version is a great step forward. We’ve made a few key improvements in this version:

Also, I am so excited to finally announce that NRE LABS IS NOW MOBILE FRIENDLY!

We are very excited about this - mobile support is something we’ve wanted to have for a while and are very excited to finally be able to offer it. We would love to hear your feedback about your experience using the site on mobile.

Greatly Improved Contributor Experience

The improvements to the web front-end were primarily aimed at improving the user experience, but from the beginning, we knew we wanted to do things in a way that made it easier for folks with a web development skillset to get involved. We actually hired a professional web development firm to come in and make the improvements that are now represented in the new site experience, and one of the explicit goals for this initiative was to realign that portion of the project with modern web development standards.

We will be going into more detail in future blogs on this, but in short, we’re only getting started. As mentioned before, 2020 is the year we really focus on improving the contributor experience - so consider this only a first step.

New Lessons

It wouldn’t be an NRE Labs announcement without new content! The new NRE Labs curriculum v1.1.0 comes with one brand new lesson, and two lessons that have been totally re-vamped and refurbished, they may as well be new.

We’re going to be releasing a lot more content this year, not just in frequency of updates, but also in variety of content. The work we put in for 2019 will enable us to release content much more frequently, and we’re going to capitalize on that. We never view any NRE Labs lesson as “done”, and all of these lessons and more will continue to receive updates in future curriculum versions.

Takeaway

For a complete tour, check out the youtube video below:

We’re excited to announce these changes today, and are eager to receive your feedback. Head on over to nrelabs.io and let us know what you think!

If you’re interested in getting involved, we have a special page dedicated to learning more at nrelabs.io/community - you’ll also find a link to our weekly standups there, which are open to all to join - that’s usually the best place to get the latest information about the project. If you’re interested in creating an interactive lesson of your own, or even add to an existing lesson, there’s no contribution too small - join the standups and we’ll make sure you get what you need.

Lastly you can follow us on twitter @NRELabs where we post all our new content updates, and our DMs are open if you want to leave some constructive feedback.