Reinventing My Workflow

Sometimes change is a good thing.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of thinking about how I can reinvent my workflow to become a better, more efficient developer. There are some minor adjustments that could have some real time-saving results, such as getting better about using Sublime Text shortcuts.

Other changes are a little more laborious (setting up VVV), but could also have some real positive impact on my workflow.

During the next couple of weeks, I’ll be experimenting with some new tools and will be writing some ideas (and tutorials) on how to implement those tools into your workflow.

I’ll start with three tools and work from there.

Varying Vagrant Vagrants

I’ve been a MAMP/XAMPP guy for many years, since I started developing with WordPress, in fact. I’ve always been very comfortable working in those environments, so I never had much motivation to try anything new.

But being comfortable is never a good excuse to stall learning. It’s time that I give VVV a try.

Grunt

I’ve used Grunt a couple of times, but never enough to fully integrate it into my workflow. The concept is simple: let Grunt do the menial tasks, like minification and linting, so you don’t have to.

Automating certain parts of my workflow is an attractive proposition and one that will go a long ways towards my goal of being a more efficient developer.

I’m also aware of the rise of Gulp and intend on giving it a go, as well.

Bower

Package managers offer a lot in the way of convenience. I’ve used npm (Node Package Manager) on a handful of projects before, primarily on Rails projects, and have no complaints with it at all. But, I’ve never tried Bower, so I figure now is as good a time as any. I can’t make a decision about which I like better if I haven’t tried both.

If you have any tools that you recommend I try, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Today marks Day 6 of my 100 Posts in 100 Days challenge… and I’m still at it.

On Being a Reverse Engineer

There are a million different titles for a thousand different jobs in the tech space. Most of them are stupid and juvenile (ninjas, rockstars, et al), but that’s another post for another day. One of the more common descriptors is engineer… but it’s also one that I’ve never quite felt fit me. I was talking to someone recently and described myself as more of a reverse engineer than anything else.

Let me explain.

I’m not one of those magical code wizards who can sit down and, without referencing any outside sources, build something that really wow’s you. If I’m stumped on how to do something, which is a daily occurrence, I’ll find some open sourced code that gets me close to the desired effect or functionality, and reverse engineer it to fit my needs.

In fact, if some apocalyptic event happened and suddenly every Stack Overflow post disappeared, and for some reason search engines no longer existed, I wouldn’t be able to perform my job.

What I can do, though, I believe is just as valuable. I can solve the problems necessary to efficiently and effectively get the job done… just with some help from Google, Stack Overflow, and a host of other resources.

With every passing day and every passing project, I can do more and more from memory; or by referencing code that I’ve already written. But there’s not a single day where I don’t have to search for answers to (often embarrassingly simple) problems.

In truth, the feeling of being a reverse engineer is, in my opinion, one of the root causes of my occasional bouts with Imposter Syndrome.

But, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only person who works this way. In fact, I have a feeling that a great majority of the folks who are making a living building websites or mobile applications are reverse engineers.

I don’t think being a reverse engineer is any worse than being a regular ol’ web engineer… but I might be biased.

WordPress Theme Development Workshop with @gdiDFW

I have the privilege of hosting a workshop with the DFW chapter of Girl Develop It next month. I’ll be covering a topic that I’m particularly passionate about: WordPress theme development.

I feel I have a good bit of knowledge to share on the topic of WordPress theme development, because I’ve spent a lot of time building themes for Lucid Theme, as well as for clients.

In the workshop, we’ll start with some of the basics, like what is a theme and how to install one; and move on to more intermediate-to-advanced topics like loops, queries and the template hierarchy.

The workshop will be broken into two days, three hours on Saturday and three on Sunday. I’m hoping that the break will give everyone time to tinker with some of the concepts we cover on Day 1, and come back with questions and new problems to solve on Day 2.

If you’re interested in attending, you can sign up on the Girl Develop It Meetup page.

Challenge: 100 Posts in 100 Days

Despite my best efforts, forcing myself to write every day, or even at all lately, has been very unsuccessful. I love writing, but sometimes I’m not sure what to write about or I get distracted by projects that I’m working on and just completely neglect it.

Starting today, I’m issuing a challenge to myself (and to anyone else who’d like to participate alongside me) to 100 posts in 100 days.

I’m not sure I’m going to make it.

I may not even make it past the first week.

But I’m going to give it my best shot. Somewhere between here, CSSForge and Lucid Theme, I’m planning on posting every day for the next 3+ months. Some will probably be mundane thoughts and ideas, but I’m going to try and force myself to write something of substance every day.

I’m issuing this challenge to myself for a couple of reasons.

First, writing keeps me sharp and helps me get sharper. Often when I start out writing a tutorial or post about something, I’m writing it more to teach myself the concepts than I am to teach someone else.

Second, I’d like to see just how much I can grow the traffic and community over at CSSForge. Despite my best efforts, my inability to maintain some writing discipline has often left it with stale content for months on end, which has obviously effected it’s ability to grow and build a community.

Well… here we go.