Good artists use fewer tools

2014-07-13 2 min read
    Actually, as the artist gets more into his thing, and as he gets more successful, his number of tools tends to go down. He knows what works for him. Expending mental energy on stuff wastes time.
      - Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody

    This quote refers to art but it can just as easily apply to code. As developers, we’re constantly exposed to new tools and technologies and are curious to try them out. Everything new looks shiny and we imagine it will solve all the problems we’re facing. Yet almost always new tools bring their own set of problems and take time to learn. Instead of constantly chasing something new we should try to master what we’re already using - the value of that will most likely outweigh playing with a new toy. It’s better to rely on a small set of tools that we understand well rather than have a superficial knowledge of dozens of tools and technologies.

    Of course it’s important to try out new tools since many of them are useful but it’s dangerous to rely on new tools exclusively and use them for a new project just because they’re the next big thing. To get some exposure to new tools, I will use them in toy projects or during hackathons so I can get a sense of how they work, what the strengths and weaknesses are, and how much I enjoy using them. Only then will I consider using them in a real project.