This is my coding cave. It may look like my office with the blinds drawn, but don’t let that fool you. Like any belly of the beast, it can be a dangerous place. Once you’ve entered, there’s no going back… and inside, sunlight and bathing become optional things.
In my web design + development projects, coding means front-end web development, custom WordPress theme development and WordPress theme customizations. When I’m coding, I’m all in; I focus on getting a project built within a compressed timeframe. Then, when I’m done, I can go outside, see the sun and finally take a shower again.
This means I need to pack well before I begin.
I’m intrigued by the tools people use in their trades, like the ranger’s preferred hiking boots or the writer’s best-loved pen. Although front-end web development may not have quite the same universal appeal, below are a few of my favorite supplies that I like to bring into my coding cave with me.
If you have your own recommendations for coding tools (or great hiking boots or pens for that matter!), I’d love to learn from you in the comments below.
Bones: Instead of building WordPress themes from thin air, these days I tend to rely on the Bones theme for a basic foundation. It’s well-commented, uses SASS and is mobile-first, so it provides a clear place to start for most custom designs.
Make: Many projects don’t need a fully custom WordPress theme. Due to a combination of design/schedule/budget needs, a customized theme will work just fine. For these types of projects, I’m currently enjoying working with The Theme Foundry’s Make theme. It has a simple, fast page builder interface that lets you customize page layouts without the issues and complexity of most other builder themes I’ve tried. The code is clean and easy to work with, which helps in setting up child themes for custom styling.
TextEdit: With all of the complexity, steps and layers involved in coding, I find the simplest of methods works best to keep myself on track. Mac’s TextEdit does the trick: I save a file with my code to keep quick lists of to-do’s, tests, bugs and fixes.
Audiobooks: I’ve discovered over the years that listening to audiobooks helps me concentrate while programming. I liken this to the Ballmer Peak phenomenon, which I’ve also tested but found not to be quite as sustainable. The perfect audiobook offers the right hint of tipsy distraction that helps the programming part of my brain stay focused on solving problems. Like Ballmer Peak, too little or too much of a good thing can quickly offset the balance: a bad book can make programming painful, and I have to hit pause if a good book gets too interesting.