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Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2017 (Washington, D.C.) with: Steven Guitar
Ben Nadel at cf.Objective() 2017 (Washington, D.C.) with: Steven Guitar ( @stguitar )

Working Code Podcast - Episode 019: Makefiles

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Adam Tuttle first came into contact with makefiles (pronounced "make files") back in high school when compiling code. But, at the time, he didn't really understand what they were or how they worked - he was just a consumer. And, after high school, years went by in which he never gave makefiles a second thought. That is, until, one fateful conversation with Mark Mandel.

Mark explained that he used makefiles to create aliases for complex Docker commands. This piqued Adam's curiosity; and soon, Adam went down the rabbit hole! Today, he uses makefiles extensively for complex shell commands that he shares across his entire team: building containers, deploying code, generating Pull Requests - and, he's only begun to scratch the surface!

Today, the crew listens to Adam wax poetically about what makes makefiles so great. And, we get to ask him all sort of questions like: can they be used to create git aliases? Can this be used with npx commands? Is this like npm run scripts? And, why are you still using "boring technology" that was built in the 70s?

This week's sponsored shout-out is Wonder Woman Tech, whose mission it is to highlight, celebrate, educate, and amplify Women, BIPOC, and the Underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Math (STEAM), and Innovation.

And finally, don't forget that we are going to have our first book club episode on May 12th for Clean Code by Robert Martin (aka, "Uncle Bob"). Feel free to read-up and follow along!

Or, listen to the full audio:

Listen to Episode 019, with:

Triumphs & Failures

  • Adam's Failure - In what can only be described as unbridled enthusiasm for his team's switch to GitHub Packages, Adam tried to incorporate a few too many changes into what was originally supposed to be the simple swapping of URLs in various package.json files. In the end, the migration wound-up including a bunch of test automation and QA deployments which cost his team an additional day in person-hours. But, he did get it done!

  • Ben's Failure (that's me) - I feel like my muse has been on vacation for the last few weeks. Usually my brain is awash with a chaotic symphony of ideas; but, lately, it's just been quiet. These things run in cycles for me; so, I'm confident that I'll be back to normal in the near future. But, in the meantime, it is more than a little bit depressing.

  • Carol's Triumph - She just finished her first 2-week rotation on Zendesk duty. Her company rotates all engineers through the Support team twice a year in an effort to build customer empathy and to help educate the engineers on the full landscape of their product-suite. Carol walks away from her rotation with a deep sense of gratitude for her team; and for her customers!

  • Tim's Triumph and Failure - After months of mothering his "skunk works" project from ideation and development through to deployment and release, he's suddenly struck with a case of "coder's empty nest syndrome". Without any fires to put-out or customers to consult with, he's not exactly sure what to do with himself. That said, Tim is thrilled to have finally gotten his first hater! And while this shade is almost certainly being thrown in jest, it definitely made Tim's week - his heart is overflowing!

For the full show notes and links, visit the episode page.

Follow the show! Our website is and we're @WorkingCodePod on Twitter and Instagram. Or, leave us a message at (512) 253-2633‬ (that's 512-253-CODE). New episodes drop weekly on Wednesday.

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Reader Comments

I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in human rights. I believe that we can afford to give more of these gifts to the world around us because it costs us nothing to be decent and kind and understanding. And, I want you to know that when you land on this site, you are accepted for who you are, no matter how you identify, what truths you live, or whatever kind of goofy shit makes you feel alive! Rock on with your bad self!
Ben Nadel