In November I attended Front End North, a conference about web development at MMU. While the whole day was generally interesting and insightful, the thing that has stuck with me most from all the talks was this:
Improve your workflow with every new project. Don’t try everything at once, just push yourself to learn something new, or improve on what you did before each time.
So when I went back to work, I kept that in mind, and luckily I got some new projects up and running, which meant a lot of new changes. In fact my development workflow has changed so considerably in the past 3 months that I thought now was a decent time to go over those changes.
I’d been using Gulp before FEN, but it seems worth mentioning here. I tried Grunt, but couldn’t quite get along with it. Then I tried Gulp and it just seemed to fit with me, the same thing happened when I tried learning LESS, which didn’t sit right, but I found SASS just worked.
Anyway, once I got automating things, I couldn’t stop. I haven’t quite got a Gulpfile into all my old but ongoing projects yet, but as I revisit them my first action is usually to jump into the Command Line and run “npm install gulp –save-dev”.
Because I’m terrible, I hadn’t really been that big on Git in the past. I didn’t get on with the Windows GitHub app, couldn’t find my way in BitBucket at all and while I was happy dipping my toes in the Command Line, I found using Git with it was a bit of chore.
This had to change though when I found WPPusher and my life was changed forever. Before WPPusher, I was quite guilty of cowboy coding over FTP. Very bad. But now everything is version controlled and sites get updated with Commit → Push → Update via WPPusher. This will hopefully be simplified even more when I convince work that I need the Pro version and can Push to Deploy.
WPPusher makes me feel like a better web developer. I can’t imagine working without it.
For a long time, I used Notepad++ for my text editing. It was basic, but it did everything I needed it to do. I had tried some other programs but they didn’t fit. Then there was Brackets, and again everything changed. Transferring from Notepad++ was seamless, but at the same time a massive improvement.
I’m running quite light on extensions, just Brackets-Git to integrate with WPPusher, Brackets-Gulp for obvious reasons, although it can be a bit janky at times and doesn’t play well with other extensions and the Document Toolbar to switch between files more easily. I’ve also got some minor presentation extensions, and linting.
The new setup is not perfect, but it’s definitely the best I’ve worked since starting doing this full time. Revisiting old projects is now exciting, because I know the things that were a chore before are going to automated into oblivion now.