My favorite articles of 2017

It’s the last day of January and the first month in 2018 is history. Finally, I got to review my 2017 reading habits. In this blog post I’m going to describe my favorite articles grouped by topic.

I read a lot: books, book summaries, blog posts, newspaper articles, source code.

Over the years I made it a habit to save every article I read or consider reading later using an online service called Pocket (previously known as Read it Later). And every time I finish reading an article, I mark it as read in the Pocket app.

What I like a lot about Pocket is the clean reading experience free of any distractions. There are also apps for the major mobile platforms and they support offline reading – great when being on the road without cell reception. You can also just use their web app to read articles in your browser.

Pocket offers an extensive API for developers to integrate with their platform. This year I used their API to analyze my reading habits:

I read 536 articles in total, with an average article reading time of 6 minutes. 72 of these I tagged as favorite.

To come up with my selection of favorite articles read in 2017, I first removed all non-English articles. Then, I clustered the remainder by topic. Finally, I selected the 3-5 best ones of their respective group.

Generally, I’m interested in many different topics but in 2017 my favorite ones were the following:

  1. Software development
  2. Web development
  3. Personal growth
  4. Productivity
  5. Entrepreneurship
  6. Personal Finances
  7. Cryptocurrencies

Subsequently, I briefly describe my final article selection and provide links. I plan to reread many of them because they are timeless.

I hope you find this helpful. Happy reading!

Software Development

1. The secret to being a top developer is building things! Here’s a list of fun apps to build!
To further your skills as a developer, you have to keep building things. This article provides some great suggestions for apps to build, that will challenge you and bring you to the next level.

2. How I Write Tests
Some valuable thoughts and practices to follow, so that growing your test suite on real software projects actually becomes feasible and part of the process.

3. What Turns Estimates Into Deadlines
Sharing an estimate makes it a deadline. Deadlines often cause lots of negative stress. This is a short and sweet article challenging the common stance on deadlines. The author Dave Geddes presents his story and elaborates why sharing frequent updates on the status of a project might be superior to sharing a completion estimate.

4. All about java.util.Date
Java’s java.util.Date class is notoriously difficult to use. This article clears up a lot of confusion and explains the most important things to know about it.

Web Development

1. SEO for Developers: Reaching the Front Page of Google Without Being Spammy
A wonderful post explaining the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques which – if executed – will bring organic search traffic to your website.

2. How to make your HTML responsive by adding a single line of CSS
A great tutorial on creating responsive layouts with CSS. Nice visuals included.

3. Everything You Never Knew About CSS Floats
Nowadays we have CSS Flexbox and CSS Grid to solve most layout needs for the web. Still, there are occasions were you will have to use floats (e.g. supporting legacy browsers). This article sheds light on the complex topic of CSS floats.

4. A Vue.js introduction for people who know just enough jQuery to get by
VueJS has become one of the most popular Javascript frameworks. I’m personally using it in my current side project and enjoy it a lot. In this long, well-arranged tutorial you build a Twitter clone and learn the most important concepts in VueJS.

Personal Growth

1. Whenever I Am Fearful Of What People Think, I Do This.
I love this article. Every now and then, I find myself paralyzed by other people’s opinion on some action I’m about to take. I believe many people have experienced this before. In this post the author brings home a hack that helps to overcome such situations.

2. My Incredibly Simple Guide To Stoicism — Learn Wisdom You Can Practically Use
Stoicism – an ancient form of philosophy – explained in simple terms. The wisdoms of the old Stoics can be applied to all aspects of our life and will transform you as a person.

3. Stop Consuming. Start Creating.
An inspiring article on becoming a doer. Most people only consume content. By adopting a creator mindset we can experience a totally new perspective in life. This very blog is one of my initiatives to become a creator.

Productivity

1. How to Build a Side Project as a Developer with a Busy Family Life
In this article you find many good tips on executing a side project in your spare time, all while balancing family life. I also have a side project right now, and the advice here helped me a lot to get going.

2. Urgent vs important: The simplest way to stay productive and do the right work
This article discusses the importance of consistently working towards long-term goals (e.g. writing a book). Often times, urgent tasks get in our way (e.g. the report you have to finish by tomorrow). A little hack to make sure an important task also gets enough love is to add a deadline. Great read!

3. How to Work 40 Hours in 16.7 (The Simple Technique That Gave Me My Life Back
While the headline of this article sounds clickbaity, it is really an excellent read. The author introduces the Pomodoro Technique for time management where you work in 25 minutes time blocks with little breaks inbetween. I personally use this technique a lot, especially for tasks that take a lot of focus. Give it a try, highly recommended!

Entrepreneurship

1. The Epic Guide to Bootstrapping a SaaS Startup from Scratch — By Yourself
In this three-part article series the author explains the steps involved in bootstrapping a business as a developer – no funding, no co-founders – from start to end. He also addresses the following: you’ll spend the vast majority of your time on marketing, selling, providing support and similar – not on coding. This is a long read but pure gold.

2. What you should know as a founder of a software company
This article gives a nice overview on the diferent focus areas when founding a software company. It discusses topics like the importance of a good user experience for your product, customer support and writing good copy on your website. In each category you also find a list of resources for further reading.

3. Building a startup in public: from first line of code to frontpage of Reddit
In this blog post Pieter Levels, well-known for creating Nomad List, documents how he developed a functioning web application in just four days. He worked on this project completely in the public, streaming and recording everything on video. The blog post links to the videos, but also summarizes the different development phases he went through and his learnings. Very inspiring to see first hand what is possible in such a short timeframe!

Personal Finances

1. Financial Advice I Wish I Knew in My 20s
This is a five-part article series. I particularly enjoyed part 3 on investments, discussing concepts like investing early and often, the power of compound interest and diversifying your portfolio.

2. Getting Rich: from Zero to Hero in One Blog Post
Another article with a clickbaity headline but please stay with me for a moment. It’s one of the introduction posts on Mr. Money Mustache’s blog (one of the most well-known personal finance blogs out there). He tells the story of how he and his wife both retired at the age of 30. He advices to cutting down your expenses to a minimum, save the majority of your salary and invest it in index fund. Then, in a few years you can retire early and live off the interest of your investments. While I find his advice a little extreme, this article challenges the common perception of work life and offers a good starting point to his website.

3. How to make Money in the Stock Market
Another great article by Mr. Money Mustache explaining the basics of the stock market and how a long-term investment strategy with low-cost index funds likely leads to great returns.

Cryptocurrencies

1. How does blockchain really work? I built an app to show you.
A quick primer on blockchain technologies that power most cryptocurrencies, nicely explained with code.

2. Making Money
A great three-part article series introducing Bitcoin and related concepts like hashing and public-key cryptography, creatively explained using emojis.

3. How to Start a Crypto Portfolio
If you haven’t already invested in cryptocurrencies and plan to do so, this is an article to get some inspiration from to build a simple portfolio.

  • Michaela Greiler

    Thanks for this awesome list of blog posts to read and the short summary. I’d definitely check them out!

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