Developer Interview with Ben Brumm - OpenLampTech Exclusive
In this OpenLampTech exclusive interview, Business Analyst and SQL professional Ben Brumm shares valuable insights, tips, and processes.
Hi and welcome to this OpenLampTech exclusive.
In this newsletter, I'm sharing a fantastic text-based interview with Ben Brumm, Business Analyst and SQL membership site owner.
In my opinion, Ben has some of the best SQL content online (I shared these same thoughts in the article, 5 Developer/Programming Newsletters You Should Be Reading).
I've been reading and studying Ben's SQL knowledge-based articles for some time now and am also a member of his Database Star Academy, which we will learn more about in the interview.
Needless to say, I was super-excited when Ben agreed to participate in this interview and took the time to provide us with valuable information, knowledge, and insights on why learning SQL is important, along with creating content as a developer.
And now, without further adieu, on to the interview.
Q: Please tell us about yourself, and what you currently do for a living.
“My name is Ben Brumm, and in my day job I’m a Business Analyst, which means I help Agile software development teams by finding out the requirements and help the team work better together.
On the side, I run the website Database Star, which helps software developers improve their database and SQL skills.
You’re probably wondering why a BA runs a website on SQL. I started my career in database development and have always had a passion for it, and slowly grew that into a website where I teach others.”
Q: Between your blog, email series, and Database Star membership site, you publish a great deal of quality content. What processes do you use to keep up with it all? Any favorite tools or applications that you can't live without?
“There are two tools that I use to create my content: Notion and Todoist.
I use Todoist as a task manager for everything in my life. It’s simple, works well on web and mobile, and helps me to remember things that I need to do.
I use Notion for many other things, one of which is my process for creating content. I capture ideas for content, create an outline, write the details (e.g. a video script or a blog post), record the videos, edit the videos, and publish them. I keep track of all of this in Notion.
This helps me by having all of the information for a piece of content in one place. For example, when I create a new course, I have all of the code and scripts for each lesson in one place, as well as a checklist for what I do when I publish the course.
It’s also helpful for capturing ideas. If I read something or have an idea for a new blog post or a course, I can write it down on this list. Whenever I want to create a new blog post, I can come back to this list of ideas, choose one, and start working on it.
Following a similar process for creating each piece of content has been helpful. I’ve got a checklist that I’ve created for creating a YouTube video, for example, and I follow those steps each time. This makes it easier to create the video, as well as not forgetting something in the process.”
Q: Why do you think it is important for developers to learn SQL?
“I think it’s important because it’s a popular language and can help improve the performance of your applications.
SQL is the language used in relational databases, and databases are used by all kinds of software: websites, mobile apps, and desktop apps. There has been a rise in other technologies such as NoSQL, but SQL databases such as MySQL and Postgres remain popular.
Knowing SQL can also improve the performance of your applications. A lot of SQL code we write is simple data retrieval from the database, but knowing a bit more about SQL features such as indexes or grouping or even database design can help you write better queries that run more efficiently.”
Q: You have a fantastic membership learning site, Database Star Academy. Tell us how that project came together and what plans you have for it moving forward.
“I created Database Star Academy in early 2017. Before that, I had created a few individual online courses that I sold occasionally. I came across the concept of a “membership site” and how they were becoming popular in a lot of industries. Pluralsight was one of the biggest sites I found at the time. I didn’t find any other sites that focused on databases. There were some that were focused on software development, and had some content on databases, but I wanted to focus on databases.
I felt it would be a good idea for both my customers and myself if I were to create a membership site for learning database development and SQL. Members could pay an amount each month that was less than a course and have full access to all of the courses, allowing them to stay a member for as long or as little as they wanted.
So I created a basic version of the Academy back in 2017, and have been adding more value to it ever since.
In the future, I’d love for Database Star Academy to be the best place for developers to go to to learn about databases and SQL. It would have everything you needed, whether you were just starting out or already had some experience. I’d also love to create a community aspect to it, more than just the ability to leave comments at the moment.”
Q: What's your favorite text editor or IDE and why?
“My favorite text editor is Atom. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it has good syntax highlighting for different types of files I work with.
Whenever I do web development work, I’ve been using VS Code, but that doesn’t happen very often.
For running SQL, it depends on the database. I use MySQL Workbench, SQL Developer, or DBeaver most of the time.”
Q: Do you have a blog, newsletter, book, podcast, or another resource you would recommend that you find valuable? (Can be non-programming related)
“I read a book called “How to Get Things Done” by David Allen many years ago, and it changed my life on how to stay organised. It’s commonly called GTD and the core concept is that you should write down everything you need to do, as your mind is for having ideas and not holding them.
Another book that was very good was “Continuous Delivery” by David Farley and Jez Humble. It opened my eyes to the way that software could be delivered. If you’ve ever worked on a software project that involved big releases and lots of approvals, then this book teaches better ways.”
Q: What advice would you give to developers who want to share their knowledge and passion through content creation?
“There are a few things I can share that I think could be helpful.
Also, I like the phrase “progress not perfection”. It’s better to create some content and make it available, even if you don’t think it’s perfect. You’ll learn more about creating content and what other people find interesting with each piece of content you create. I look back on my early blog posts and cringe at how poor they are compared to my recent stuff. I’ve still got areas to improve, but I feel my writing has improved, and you’ll feel the same the more you create.
Finally, be consistent. Whether you’re sharing content on Twitter, your own blog, or YouTube, it helps to be consistent. You’ll gain followers by putting out content consistently as they will come to expect it. You’ll also get used to a schedule and can plan for the future. Whether you create something once per week, once every two weeks, or once per month, choose a schedule and try to stick to it. Aim for a schedule that’s less frequent but you know you can stick to.”
Q: Any hobbies or other interests outside of programming and development?
“I’ve been training karate for about 5 years now, usually twice a week, so that keeps me active and busy.
My wife and I enjoy hiking: we’ve done a few hikes that take a few hours and our next step is to do an overnight hike (where you hike for a bit, camp overnight, and hike more).
Our main focus at the moment is our baby. He’s just turned 1 and so he’s got a lot of our attention, and we’re both enjoying it so far.”
Q: Where can readers go to learn more about your work and projects?
“My website is at www.databasestar.com which is where all of my blog posts and guides live. A good place to start is my SQL Roadmap page, which has a long list of database and SQL concepts from beginner to advanced, with links to learn more. That page is here: www.databasestar.com/sql-roadmap/. There’s a link to the Database Star Academy on the header if anyone is interested in finding out more.
I’ve got a YouTube channel where I publish a video every week here: www.youtube.com/c/databasestar
Those are the main places that I’m on. I have Twitter but I’m not very active there at the moment.”
Please share this article with others.
Thank you Ben Brumm for participating in this interview for the OpenLampTech newsletter! 🙏
Thank you for reading. I hope you have a great rest of your week.
Visit my developer blog, Digital Owl’s Prose, where I write regularly on CodeIgniter, PHP, WordPress, and SQL.
If someone awesome shared the OpenLampTech newsletter with you and you are not yet subscribed, consider joining the community by signing up for free:
Wish it was a bit longer.
Great interview! Thanks, Joshua.