Let me use my first blog post to explain why I am blogging, why now, and why I am hosting the blog myself.
I am starting a software development blog primarily to help me learn. I understand a topic far better after I have committed thoughts to writing.
In the years that I have considered blogging, I anticipated using a blog to collect quick, arcane how-to reminders for myself. I have kept a note with a list of these how-to posts including “how to configure Maven to run unit tests in parallel” and “how to achieve space efficient backups for append only log-based databases using hard links and rsync”. Stack Overflow is full of such quick, arcane how-to posts. The how-to posts I anticipated blogging would be more appropriate on Stack Overflow. I may still blog about some arcane how-to topics occasionally, but I have different goals for blogging now.
I would like to use my blog to write long-form explanations of topics that I think I have researched well. My hope is that some of these explainers can serve as valuable resources for myself and others.
I made my aforementioned list of arcane how-to posts when my career required me to be a generalist. Such posts are helpful to generalists: they often need to find an existing solution to an unfamiliar problem quickly then move onto the next thing. Until recently, my career required me to be a generalist: I worked on government programs and the nature of my work changed every 18 months.
For the past several years, I specialize in Java agent development and web application security at Contrast Security. I enjoy taking time to research a topic and truly understand it. Blogging is a tool to encourage me to deeply understand a topic well enough that I can explain it to others in a blog post.
I blog and write a lot at work, but my first foray into blogging for fun was as an author on baeldung.com. I like the idea of writing for an existing blog, because it takes away the distractions of building the blog itself so I can focus on the content. I wrote a few Java related articles for Baeldung, but it ultimately wasn’t for me. Baeldung is a business and has different goals for blogging: they are trying to optimize SEO and a high-rate of new content, and I am trying to optimize my learning and happiness.
Baeldung was not a good fit for me now, but it taught me that I need to try writing on my own blog. Hosting my own blog means I will not get the same amount of visitors as I would writing on a platform like medium.com. However, I have complete control over my content. It also means I have to do a lot more work to build the features I need to get started, but that’s part of the fun 😀.