Podcasts on Development
I love listening to podcasts. It is like listening to your own personal radio station where they talk about things you care about and want to learn about. Podcasts have been exploding in recent years because they are accessible, interesting, and allow anyone the opportunity to share a story, illustrate their expertise, or report on a niche topic that is under-represented by the general news media. Software development, Devops, programming, and tech in general have a lot of niche topics within, and there are plenty of podcasts out there covering many aspects of the field in which we all work.
However, because podcasts are so prevalent and easy to produce, the quality of them vary, so it is hard to know what is good and what is not good without spending a lot of time listening to these shows and getting a feel for them. A quick look at https://simpleprogrammer.com/ultimate-list-developer-podcasts/ shows us the sheer amount of podcasts that are out there for different topics within development, so it can be a dizzying experience trying to pick one that is potentially of a high enough quality to deserve our subscription and time to listen to.
In this article, I will make a few recommendations based on the podcasts that I listen to and provide some guidance on how best to approach finding your next favorite software development podcast.
The Bike Shed is a podcast from the good people at ThoughtBot. ThoughtBot is a software development firm that creates apps for both small and large customers. A San Antonio equivalent would be Grok Interactive, which actually used to have a podcast but stopped due to timing constraints. The Bike Shed focuses on the experiences and thoughts of the developers at ThoughtBot as they talk about some of the things they are working on, both professionally and contributing to open source, and what they think about what they are doing. A notable episode that I would recommend people to listen to first before diving into the Bike Shed would be episode 172: What I Believe About Software. In that episode, they talk about the core processes they use to develop software, focusing on planning, deadlines, code reviews, and retrospectives. Quite often, we think about software as something that is written once and it is all done, but much like any quality writing, software needs to be rewritten, reconfigured, retooled, etc at a regular enough cadence to keep it efficient, clean, and maintainable. For an understanding of why the show is called "The Bike Shed," see this article here. Fun note: every time you load the site, the background is a different color.
I am biased here as my language of choice is Python, but one of the things that makes this podcast great are the guests that come in and talk about what they are doing to move Python forward, whether that's contributing directly to Python or creating libraries and frameworks to keep developers productive. A noteable episode to check out is the episode where they talk about what is new in Flask 1.0, which can be found here: https://talkpython.fm/episodes/show/177/flask-goes-1.0. Flask is a micro web framework written in Python, and it is often used to build web services, APIs, or quick proof of concepts. It's an amazing little framework that is very flexible and allows developers to pick and choose how they want to use the tool instead of the tool dictating how it should be used. Flask had been at version 0.12 for a long time, so when it finally hit 1.0, this was a big deal for the Python community, especially those who use Python for the web. In the interview, the maintainer talks about the story behind Flask and where Flask is going next. One of my favorite things about this episode is when they talk about how easy it can be to contribute to open source projects. I believe conversations like that are important to encourage those out there that want to contribute something but are unsure of how best to do that.
Okay, hear me out here -- I know I am talking about development and programming, but I am sharing a security podcast that is not boring and makes security a more fun topic to discuss. Smashing Security is hosted by Graham Cluley and Carole Theriault, two security veterans, and they are full of personality, have great perspectives on security, and share some of the top news of the week without bogging you down with a ton of stories. They each bring a story to report and go into deep details about that story, helping you get context around the story and understand the security implication. Did I mention that they are also pretty hilarious? I enjoy their banter back and forward, and they keep me engaged throughout the show. One of the best parts of the show is the Pick of the Week, which is a segment where they share something that is not necessarily security-related. I get to learn about cool websites and tools from them during this segment, and I usually share those findings with people in our Slack channel or with my coworkers. As developers, having an understanding of security and being aware of what is going on in our worl of technology helps us make better decisions when writing software. No customer ever asked for the buffer overflow in their product. A noteable episode has to be the one where Graham learns about what Rule 34 is (https://www.smashingsecurity.com/101). It is just too much.
Those are three recommendations for podcasts to check out that I can vouch for as I have been listening to them for a long time, but if you are looking for something new to listen to, please check out this resource https://simpleprogrammer.com/ultimate-list-developer-podcasts/ for more shows that might help you grow in your career. A simple piece of advice, though: when going through that giant list, focus on the things that you care about. What are you learning now, and what podcasts exist for that particular topic? You will not become a software development master by listening to podcasts, but what listening to podcasts does for you is expose you to new concepts and ideas to explore later. Part of learning is also exploring the known unknowns and discovering things that used to be unknown unknowns. Podcasts provide us this opportunity, and I recommend everyone check out something new when they get a chance.
What are your favorite development or tech podcasts? Share them in the comments below!