I’m using various tools to assist me in my quest to learn software development.

I have Trello setup to host various projects and development boards under my productive alias. I like how I can create multiple boards (projects) and associate them to a particular team, which in my case is my productive alias to myself. Yay to me!

The boards themselves are very intuitive (think of a whiteboard), as the tasks are simplified into a ‘To Do’ bin. These tasks can essentially be dragged and dropped inside the default containers (‘Doing’ and ‘Done’). Of course, you can create custom lists to suit a particular project, but the default list categories are sufficient for my basic needs.

I also registered a GitLab account, despite owning a GitHub account. The reason being is nothing to do with Microsoft owning GitHub, but essentially, I wanted to create private projects without forking out subscription fees, which applies to the GitHub platform. I am very impressed with GitLab and I have used my productive alias to create a Group – with associated Projects tagged. Because this is my first real exposure to using a Git source repository of any kind, it is nice to see the accountability tracking of issues, assignment, activity detail and milestone overview.

I understand using GitLab is an overkill for my personal projects, but I want to better understand the tools and learn the lingo of a typical software development environment – despite being a solo developer.

I am also using GitKraken Git Client to toil around, so that I can push development work and updates to my GitLab account online. The good thing about GitKraken is that the desktop app is compatible with both GitHub and GitLab.

Lastly, I am using Brackets as my text editor. Not only is it supported and developed by Adobe, but it is free and open source. I prefer Brackets over the likes of Atom and paid alternatives like Sublime Text. I like the simple flow of Brackets. It reminds me of what Apple used to achieve in its design and user interfacing – the ‘it just works’ mantra. I like how Brackets can save me keystrokes. When I initiate a set of coded brackets, it will create the closing brackets automatically.

I also like Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code. I was using Visual Studio extensively when I was toying around with learning Python 3 several months ago. For the interim, I am using the free tier for these online tools.

I am enjoying the transition from HTML and CSS to JavaScript and last weekend I was such a newbie. When I was juggling between using Brackets and Visual Studio Code for my IDE (Integrated Development Environment), I was expecting to see the output of my JavaScript code on the IDE console (like Python), but because it’s a web programming language – all I needed was my trusty web browser. At least, I can still depend on the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) to cover the three core web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript).

I was also blown away by Google’s Chrome DevTool, which again is my first exposure to using the tool. Back in the day of my early web design years, I used Firebug and the Web Developer plugin on Firefox. I can fully appreciate the Chrome DevTools and the dynamic way in sampling new code and inspecting every component of a page – all within Chrome DevTools. I understand Firefox has a similar toolset, which curiously – I have yet to explore, purely because Brackets uses Chrome for Live Preview development that I find resourceful. Firefox will remain as my favourite web browser, but for web development, I like Chrome.

For some strange reason, this software development is way more stimulating than my previous paid role, which involved looking at a dozen security monitoring tools and identifying a green tick (or seeing the word ‘successful’ or ‘OK’) on a web console. Soon, I will be able to develop a web console of my own and allow the user to customise the controls and tart it up to make it look intuitive to the end-user.

~Richard