Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Importance of Tools

One of the most influential books I've read on software development has been The Pragmatic Programmer.

One of the key points raised within the book is that of automation and tooling. For example, automating the build process is a very worthwhile undertaking. You should be able to check out some code and execute a script that will set up your machine, compile, test and deploy the code base in question.

The key benefit of automating even trivial tasks such as automatically pulling down the latest code daily is that unlike developers, automating tooling will never perform the task wrong. Nor will they forget to do it. Ultimately this prevents the dreaded "works on my machine" issue.

I've become such a fan of this approach to automating away any manual steps that some of the most used code I've written has been small scripts that execute hundreds of times a day. From a development point of view, the likes of good practices, SOLID, OO etc.. are usually void, such scripts simply get the job done, allowing myself to focus on the more important tasks such as delivering business value else where.

There is not a lot else to say on the subject of tooling. The best tools should be composable, proven solutions where possible. In other words, rather than something that must be configured via a GUI, opt for something that can be automated. Also ensure that you are not re-inventing the wheel unnecessarily. Save your time and energy on creating the custom tooling you can't get "off the shelf".

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