Tools of the Trade
February 7, 2016
As I stated in my first post, I love to hear how developers and designers build their site. Learning about new tools and resources that make coding a site easier (and hopefully more enjoyable) is always nice. So I am going to do a quick run down of how this site currently does its boogie. These are just the basics and if anything changes, I will make sure to note those changes in later posts. So here we go.
It may be shocking to learn but this blog is not powered by little hamsters on running wheels. As much as I love the simplicity of a setup that includes rodents running their little hearts out to support my creative outlet, I needed something quite a bit more high-tech. That is where MediaTemple comes in. For web hosting, I have used MediaTemple consistently for years now. They have many loyal fans and since I have no real complaints, I guess you can consider me one of them. I know that is not much of a review but as long as my site is online and fast, I am cool with the service. Job well done MediaTemple, even if you are owned by GoDaddy. 🙂
To handle the content management of this site, I have chosen Perch. Perch is a quite wonderful CMS. I could have went with the very obvious route and used WordPress. I actually love working with WordPress and I have a lot of experience under my belt but for this site, the simplicity of Perch won me over. It doesn’t try to do too much. The interface is clean and straightforward. Templates are incredible easy. I’m not here to teach you how to use Perch but I do recommend you watch their Getting Started video just to see how easy it is to implement into your designs. You literally adapt it to your vision, not the other way round. Publishing is also easy and writing in Markdown works like a dream. That being said, Perch is a simple CMS out of the box. You can’t just start blogging after the initial setup. You will need a free plugin for blog functionality. But that’s OK because Perch makes and supports the blog plugin. I guess you could say the one main caveat for some is that Perch isn’t free (which is a hot selling point for WordPress) but it is not expensive either. Knowing that the money is going to a great indie developer, who supports their products well, works for me and that might work for you too.
The last item I am going to address in this post is my tool of choice for coding and that is Coda. I believe I have used Coda by Panic since 2008 or so. I’m not sure how long I have used it but I am sure that it is the perfect tool for how I code. I was sold on the app before it was launched. Why? Because it was made but one of the most reputable Apple developers out there. I was familiar with Panic because they created the trusty Transmit FTP app. You will notice or will soon notice that I usually like things because they are easy to learn and use. I like to act like the tools that I use are difficult to work with so that I can impress my fiends (that pretty sad I know, so please don’t tell anyone I said that) but the truth is I hate learning curves. I mean I hate learning curves with a passion. Learning curves are so time consuming. So if a software, a web app, a phone app, a shirt, a sock, a shoe, etc. takes too much dedication to learn, I move on. I have gone days without shoes. I love flip-flops. Flip-flops are easy. You just have to remember that your big toe sits alone. I am definitely wandering off topic, so let me get to my point and finish this post. Transmit was a simple and well made application that helped me run a function with ease; uploading files to a server. Panic seemed to have considered that same simplicity requirement when they made Coda. If you need a good code editor, I recommend Coda.
Just as a recap, I use MediaTemple for hosting, Perch for my blog engine, and Coda to handle my coding. I will try to cover some workflows and process tools in later posts.
That is all I have at the moment but I do want to finish this post with a little disclaimer. I just want to caution how much time you take looking for the perfect tool. As I noted earlier, ease of use is the most important feature that I look for in a product. The easier it is, the less time consuming it is. I’m not discounting other features, such as a beautiful interface or the satisfaction of learning something new. Chances are that if a product is easy to use, a beautiful interface has something to do with that. My goal isn’t to use the tool, my goal is to create something with that tool.