You, me and your weird cousin that thinks he can make websites out of macaroni, well we're developers (At least some of us are!).
We rely on some sort of service or tool to get our work done, right? Right! Sometimes the tools we use are super complicated IDEs or maybe their just plain old simple Notepad.
Whatever maybe the case, we're as good as the tools that we use. If a tool is well-built, it performs as it should, it helps boost your productivity, and is constantly improved then I say it's definitely a tool worth keeping.
Along my years as a developer I've used a lot of tools to get my work done, and my guess is that so have you. There is an interesting discussion over on Coderbits about what people used over the years.
I've found that the best tools are often the most simple ones, in terms of UI. Having a simple UI, helps us, the developers. We don't need no fancy smancy (Is that even a word?) UI to get our work done. The simpler the better.
I've started, as many of you might have, with good old Notepad. It was a good enough "tool", and it still is (If you live in a cave and don't have access to the Internet!).
Notepad is like a training sword. You can hit stuff with it, but it won't conquer a citadel (Well maybe it will, if your MacGyver!). It's just a text editor, some may argue it's the text editor, but one thing is for certain, it helped many of us become who we are today.
After Notepad, I skipped a few steps and put on my big boy pants and started using Dreamweaver (The old Macromedia one!). At the time, it was amazing, I did everything with it. Stuff like design and development were done with just a few clicks. Want a button? Bo0om! Just insert one and there it is. My whole design process was done in Dreamweaver, and I'm not afraid of admitting it.
Soon after the Dreamweaver stage was over I had a weird phase when I used a tool called Net Object Fusion. It was one of my worst decisions. If you want to build a horrible tool, that people will hate, look no further. Net Object Fusion is one of those tools that after you install it, you immediately regret your decision, crawl under your desk and start banging your head to the floor. But don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.
We now head back to the Dreamweaver faze, but this time its made by Adobe (Aaa, good pal Adobe!). Yes, it was a simpler time back then. I started using Photoshop to design and forgot all about the time I used to design using Dreamweaver. I think Dreamweaver was never meant as a design tool, but nevertheless it did its job as both a design and development tool.
Then somebody pushed the fast forward button and I had a weird fast phase. A quest phase if you will. The search for the perfect tool so I can do my work in peace. Notepad++, Aptana Studio, Eclipse, Blue Fish Editor were just a few of the tools I've used over the years as a developer.
From all of them, Eclipse was my favorite. I developed the HTML Encrypter app with it. You can see it's meant for Java development and nothing else. I tried using it for PHP development but something's not right with it. I was never a big fan of NetBeans so I was faithful to Eclipse when it came to Java development.
Blue Fish was my first editor when I added Ubuntu into my workflow. It performed well enough but not quite what I wanted.
Enter Sublime Text, stage left. At first I was overwhelmed by the sheer power and the amount of stuff it could perform. I don't want to make this article a fan boy story about how cool Sublime Text is. It is! You should definitely give it a shot.
I guess I've covered all of them. Have I? Yes I have. As I was saying at the beginning of this article, we as developers are as good as the tools we have available. You can't conquer a tower with snowballs (Stop it with the analogies! I'm trying to make a point here.). The idea is that if you want to get your work done right, use the right tools and make your workflow as smooth as possible.
What other tools have you used over the years, lets continue this discussion in the comments.
Until next time, code long and prosper!