A few weeks ago, I had the unfortunate chance or let's say "opportunity", of working on something without going through my usual workflow. And what did I learn from that experience?
Well, that you are as good as the tools you use and the most important thing, that stuck with me, is that the whole process sucked. And when I mean it sucked, I mean it was so horrible that I felt I was in the middle ages, where they had to copy books by hand. I mean not only was I out of my comfort zone, but as strange as that may sound, I started with my mind-set on doing something out of my comfort zone.
As developers, we have an established workflow and we usually stick to that until something better comes along. But if for some weird reason that workflow is suddenly broken, by some unfortunate events, we are left stranded like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
So, are we too dependent on the tools we use? I would say yes. Why? Well, for one simple reason. Just a like a blacksmith needs a hammer to forge an armor, we also need a code editor and a terminal to create something.
But this can be a two-sided blade. On one hand, the tools we use, help us make great things, that we can share with the rest of the world, and there is also a "dark" side to this.
If we get too attached to these tools we might not be able to evolve. And it's in the human nature to evolve.
How can we overcome this? Well for starters try using / testing a different set of tools. Lets take for example a code editor.
We all have that favorite one. Whether it's Sublime, Coda or whatever, we all have that special one.
My advice is to try using not one, but two or three on a regular basis, just to make yourself comfortable with as many environments as possible.
Use Sublime, Atom, Brackets or even an online one, like the one Koding has, which is based on Ace. That way you won't feel so uncomfortable when, lets say, you change you job and the new job has a mandatory code editor that you need to use.
Alright, but, that's not all. Try changing your workflow from time to time. Yes, I am aware that you can be unproductive if you do this way to often, nevertheless a change is always welcome, if it's for the better. I for one, try to change my workflow, at least once a year, by introducing new tools and getting rid of the old ones.
A good example would be, on my Windows machine, I used to use the GUI version of Github but now it's all command line.
So, what's the conclusion? I believe that no matter how dependent you are of the tools you use, it's important to remember one thing: the tools you use were made my developers, like you and me, and some of them may be good or some of them may be bad, but as long as they work for your projects, you feel comfortable using them and you're productive, then you can be as dependent as you want of them.
Until next time, code long and prosper!