Development Workflow Changes – Brackets, WPPusher, Gulp

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.

Leaving the Laptop Behind

Since getting back from Madrid (the tournament report may be published at some point), I’ve left my work laptop in the office. It’s a small change in mindset that’s having quite a big effect.

I didn’t do work on it every night, in fact I rarely did. But having two laptops at home often meant that I’d use two laptops at home. And if that meant making a few small changes to SASS stylesheet on one, while checking Twitter and (legally) streaming football so be it.

But, without the work laptop at home, I’m actually using my personal laptop less as well. This may be well timed with the arrival of Jeff:


Because really, who’s going to work when this guy is attacking your appendages.

But, I’m leaving my laptop at work and feeling great about it.

IMB Selectric Typeball

In 2009, all I ever wanted was a typewriter.

In 2015 all I want is an IBM Selectric Typeball.



I’d sit it on my desk, and people would say,

“Jack what do you do with that?”

And I’d say, “literally nothing.”

Made a creepy 8-bit Pikachu

8-bit Pikachu

As the title suggests, I made a creepy 8-bit Pikachu on make8bitart.

That website is well good. And I’m looking forward to that lovely SEO juice from “Creepy 8-bit Pikachu”.

Design By Google – Finding something that isn’t shit

As a web designer, I mainly spend my time looking for other people’s well implemented design ideas and then re-purposing them for my own sites.

The process for this is generally quite simple, first I hit up A List Apart and see what they’re saying about a certain topic (Search forms, knowledge hubs, widgets, etc). Even if the article there is a few years old, the quality of the writing and the theory behind the implementation is still strong. Then it’s on to Smashing Magazine, which usually has something either a bit more technical, or a nice listicle for ideas to steal.

If by this point, much like Bono, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, it’s straight onto Google, where the searches become increasingly desperate, where X = Whatever needs ‘designing’, eg Search forms

  • Well designed X’s
  • Good X’s
  • Nice X’s
  • X’s that aren’t shit.