The toolbelt!

There are gazillions of new frameworks, tools, and new best practices everyday in the web development world, and more acronyms than you and I will be able to remember. Probably, by the time you have finished reading this post (It’s short, I swear) someone will have published a new something.js.

There is a funny rant about this situation here. It’s a conversation between a guy wanting to get a small project done, and the other one suggesting the stack he should use (I bet you already know how it goes).

So. If mostly everyone is having this problem?, how does a mere mortal like us keep up with this fast-evolving ecosystem?.

Unpopular opinion time: We don’t!

(…or maybe just to a certain extent)

We don’t have the luxury of spending all of our time on chasing and learning about every shiny new thing that comes out. You should strive for refining and complementing your existing skills.

But you still need that sense of discovery to become a better programmer. You have to train yourself to pick tools that have a positive effect on what you do or want.


Good resources!

It’s always a good idea to follow influencers in your areas of interest. They will most likely have something smart to say, and have a pretty good idea of where the technology is heading.

If you like frontend development, you could borrow some twitter handles from Frontendrescue and start stalking some of them :)

There are also amazing blogs and reading lists that might put some interesting ideas or tools into your radar. For example, I’m a religious reader of WDLR, it’s a weekly curated list of things happening in web development; I find it to be a very quick and enjoyable morning read. I often find interesting topics in the Marvel blog and new ideas and inspiration in Frontendfront

What next?

With all that exploration. A few things might have caught your attention. It’s time to decide why it’s worth investing time on learning/using/implementing them.

I believe you should always be open to welcoming new things that:

  • Could improve a project you’re working on.
  • Might solve a specific problem you’re having right now or a problem you’ve had in the past in a better way.
  • It’s something that could save you time.
  • It’s something that you have been wanting to experiment with.
  • Interest you (duh!).

Whatever the reason is. You need to keep it present. And make sure that it helps you obtain results, be more productive and get closer to your goals.

Choosing the right tool for the job

Often, you will find different tools that can help you achieve the same (or similar) result. Examples of this are:

  • Browserify vs. Webpack
  • Npm vs. Yarn
  • Gulp vs. Grunt
  • SCSS vs. LESS
  • I name it vs. You name it

If you already answered some of the “whys” above. It should be very simple to choose between options that seem like good candidates for your end goal.

What is left is mostly objective reasoning and comparing what’s the right tool for you.

It’s rather difficult to give pointers on what to compare if I’m not mentioning anything specific. But normally if I have to make this choice. I compare things like:

  • Documentation & learning curve
  • Performance
  • Platform/browser compatibility
  • How active the project is
  • Does it have what I need out of the box?. Is it customizable if it doesn’t?
  • Does it look like a promising technology that will still be relevant/exist some time down the line?

To put it short

Even though we have uncountable options in the market for the solutions we may need. It doesn’t mean that we have to “keep up” with this fast-evolving ecosystem. We should strive to refine our skills and keep exploring without committing to a tool just because it’s the latest and greatest, but because we have evaluated them based on informed decisions and picked the right tool for the task at hand.

By no means, I’m implying that a more subjective approach is wrong. But I guess that like me, there are a lot of people that don’t seem to be able to set aside free time for exploration, and would like to get the most bang for their buck. After all, time is gold :)

Sharing is caring!

What do you do for keeping up to date?, Do you have some interesting blogs or follow great people?. Then don’t keep it to yourself and comment away!.