You are what you read – and most Toptal members and blog subscribers are software developers. So what do you read? Where do professional developers get the latest information about how their peers work and think? Today, we will be taking a look at a small selection of popular developer blogs frequented by Toptal developers.
Listing all the good developer blogs out there would take up too much time, and inevitably result in a very long blog post, so our plan is to focus on a few dozen popular blogs. We could suggest more, but since we are all about decentralisation and collaboration, we’re counting on you (our readers) to expand the list in the comment section.
Since Toptal doesn’t specialize in any particular niche, I will try to break down the list into a few sections to ease navigation. Let’s start with Microsoft.
Top Microsoft Blogs
Scott Guthrie’s blog is definitely on top of our list. Guthrie is not your average developer - he is the VP of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group. His team is in charge of the .NET, Visual Studio, Active Directory, Windows Server, Azure, and SQL Server development.
Guthrie has been with Microsoft for more than 15 years, and his blog is home to a decade of content that Microsoft devs may find useful. The only downside is that the blog isn’t updated as frequently as it was a couple of years ago.
Ode to Code is another blog with a lot of useful Microsoft stuff, although it does not specialize solely in Redmond technologies. It’s written by K. Scott Allen, a consultant and developer with OdeToCode LLC.
On the other hand, if you want to keep track of developments in the .NET arena, you might want to check out weblogs.asp.net. This is a relatively big community of blogs with a lot of contributing authors. Fresh content is released on a daily basis and there is no shortage of blogs dealing with niche issues.
Top SQL Blogs And Database Blogs
SQL is often overlooked by many publications, despite the fact that it still forms the backbone of many projects. We’d rather not list a lot of blogs maintained by individual developers – most are infrequently updated, and we have more subjects to cover.
A good place to start would be an aggregator, therefore we suggest you checkout Top SQL Blogs. This is where you’ll find a lot of useful links, blogs and even industry news.
The Percona MySQL Performance Blog is also worth checking out – it’s home to hundreds of useful MySQL blogs and covers other subjects as well.
Top iOS Developer Blogs
The popularity of Apple’s iOS-based products has spawned a thriving industry, and for years iOS was the place to be in terms of mobile development. Today, Apple’s closed ecosystem may have a bit less mass-market appeal than Android, but at the same time it offers more opportunities to generate revenue. This is not about to change anytime soon; while Google has a bigger market share, Apple makes more money on iOS products, so a lot of developers prefer to stay in Apple’s walled garden.
In case you are new to iOS, one of the best places to start is Ray Wenderlich’s blog. The blog is frequently updated by several contributors, and the focus is on learning. You’ll find a lot of tutorials and other helpful content, covering numerous aspects of iOS development. If you think you’re a skilled developer and feel you’ve outgrown tutorials, it’s still worth checking out – there’s no harm in validating your skills or learning new ones.
Mike Ash also publishes an iOS blog that should appeal to novices. You’ll find a lot of useful Swift content, mostly authored by Ash himself, although there are a few other contributors as well.
Cocoacontrols used to be a very popular blog dealing with (wait for it) Cocoa controls. The blog hasn’t been updated in months; however, you can still find lots of useful stuff there.
Now we get to the more interesting, frequently updated blogs. NSHipster has quite a following, provides a lot of content, and covers Objective-C, Swift, and Cocoa. NSHipster’s Matt Thompson also has a few publications dealing with “obscure topics” in Cocoa and Objective-C.
Another source that is definitely worth checking out is objc.io, which is essentially a periodical about best practices and advanced techniques for iOS and OS X development. It covers a wide range of subjects aside from iOS.
Top Android Developer Blogs
What if you’re not a fan of Apple’s closed ecosystem? Chances are you’re into Android. There are countless blogs and forums dealing with Android, and there’s always a lot of open-source projects to join.
Shortlisting just a few blogs isn’t easy, so let’s start with the most obvious one – Google Developers Blog. This blog is (again, obviously) relevant to Android developers, and should be checked from time to time.
However, if you’re new to Android, you might want to get started with a pinch of Android Hive, because it offers a lot of content geared toward novice users. Of course, some more advanced techniques are covered as well. Also, there are a lot of useful tutorials that can be very handy regardless of your skill level.
Vogella is one of the oldest sources of information for Android developers, and it’s still quite popular. Vogella tries to encompass as much of the Android development process as possible, offering everything from relatively basic tutorials to advanced techniques that few developers will employ.
If you want to polish your skills and keep up to date with the latest developments in Android, check out Android Weekly. It’s not a blog, it’s a weekly newsletter featuring fresh, curated content from a range of sources.
In case you’re searching for user interface and user experience tips, checking out Androiduiux is a good idea. Unfortunately, the blog is not updated frequently.
Top Coding Blogs
This is a tricky one, and the shortlist is bound to be controversial – so be it. Toptal freelancers work in a wide range of frameworks including scripting and programming languages, so coming up with a list that would encompass everything for everyone is simply impossible. I am sure our readers will have a lot more suggestions, so please share them with your colleagues.
Speaking of CSS, you might want to take a look at the CSSkarma blog, although it’s no longer updated as frequently as it once was. For even more fresh info and tutorials on CSS and design in general, the Codrops blog is definitely worth a look. It’s frequently updated and features a lot of tutorials from various authors.
As for good old Java, the situation is pretty much the same – there’s a lot to choose from. This is why a lot of users turn to syndicated content, like the Javalobby feed. Another relatively popular aggregator is Top Java Blogs.
While such sites can be very useful for catching up on the latest developments, they also feature a lot of “noise”. There is simply too much content and too many niches that might not be appealing to every developer out there. Still, that is what you get when there’s a healthy community eager to contribute and share their expertise.
The Ruby gang also has quite a few blogs to choose from, and in singling out just two of them I am probably going to get some angry emails. Justin Weiss is a popular choice for many Ruby developers, and a few Toptalers suggested his blog as a good place to start. Weiss offers a lot of practical advice and doesn’t waste time, so you get a lot of useful code and concise explanations. Just the way we like it. Virtuous Code is another suggestion I got from my Ruby-loving colleagues. The blog is the brainchild of Avdi Grimm, a young but prominent Ruby developer who also authored a number of books and offers screencasts of some Ruby and RoR development.
If Azure is what you’re after, Scott Hanselmann’s blog comes highly recommended. Hanselmann is a former professor and Microsoft veteran, but best of all he updates his blog on a regular basis. There’s always something new to check out. If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention Hanselmann in the Microsoft section, then you should check out his open-source work.
What about Zend or Amazon Web Services? We have a couple of suggestions for Zend users – Michaël Gallego’s blog covers Zend and AWS, while Marco Pivetta tackles Zend, PHP, and more on the Ocramius blog.
Top Startup Blogs, SEO And More
Of course, there is more to our industry than tech. The mark of true entrepreneurs is that they are not focused solely on one aspect of the business. It takes a lot of time and effort to put everything together and create something out of nothing. Having a good idea, top notch code, and flawless execution is not enough to get a startup off the ground.
The 500 blog offers a lot of useful tips and testimonials for everyone gearing up to launch a new product or service. Zach Holman also discusses a wide range of issues encountered by software developers and entrepreneurs. What about the other side of the table? Well, veteran venture capitalist Mark Suster offers a unique perspective into the world of startups through the eyes of VCs, on the aptly named Both Sides of The Table blog.
Of course, every startup will also have to deal with brand recognition, marketing, and social media strategies, not to mention SEO. Google’s Matt Cutts covers sound SEO practices, social media, and more on his blog. David Naylor, the manager of UK-based Bronco digital services agency publishes a comprehensive blog dealing with search marketing and digital trends. There’s a lot of fresh content and several contributors cover different topics, so it’s definitely worth a try.
Hey, But You Forgot About…
Like I said, there is too much ground to cover, and the Internet is already full of SEO-optimized “Top 10” and “Top 100” articles covering everything, including software development. That’s simply not what I’m trying to do here – this is a community blog, although you’ll probably spot a few SEO tweaks here and there. If you can’t beat them, join them.
So let’s wrap up the list with a few more blogs and alternative sources of information, with some blogs focusing on general topics that every developer should find interesting.
Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror blog has quite a following, and it’s not just about code. Atwood’s writing style is entertaining yet informative. He covers a wide range of topics, often looking at the bigger picture, and he offers a lot of good advice. It also stands out by the number of recommendations I got from Toptal network members. I trust they know a good blog when they see one.
If you are interested in best practices, CodeBetter is a good place to start. It covers a lot of various topics, and numerous contributors tackle their respective fields.
Now that we’ve reached the end of our brief roundup of best developer blogs, I’ll reward you with something completely different – Devops Reactions.
Now It’s Your Turn
As you’ve probably noticed, I left out a number of communities and blogs - but who here doesn’t know about GitHub? Do you know any Android developers who are not familiar with XDA? Of course not.
The idea behind this post is that it will stir up a bit of debate and perhaps controversy. Every Toptal post is a team effort, and now the team wants to hear what you think. We did our part, now it’s up to you to join the debate and help fellow developers.
List a few blogs you frequent. They don’t have to be very popular publications. Include a brief description so others will know why they ended up in your bookmarks, and that’s it.
Alternatively, if you have some examples of terrible dev blogs, feel free to share those as well, either as a warning or for their entertainment value. Better yet, if you’re confident you can do a better job than some popular bloggers. We dare you to pick a topic and get in touch with us. If you’re a good blogger, we’ll be more than happy to publish your work. Toptal’s mission is to attract the top 3% of freelance developers worldwide, so if you make the grade you’ll be in good company.