What dev tools I treasure

January 29, 2024 (5mo ago)

Here's some of the development tools I value the most:

  • Docker

    • Dependencies can be a nightmare, and this solves that issue mainly at the expense of disk storage, a trade-off I'll happily take. All dependencies can be easily version-controlled, the software's environment is clearly written out, and supported practically everywhere - containerisation won and I couldnt be more relieved. As far as I'm concerned other containerisation options (for my applications) need not exist, Docker is king here.
  • Vscode

    • An obvious one these days, but 5 or so years ago this was a life-saver from (ironically) IDE's like Visual Studio, Qt Creator and (my least-hated out of the bunch) IntelliJ IDEA. Vscode is simple and portable, but plugins take it to another level.
  • ChatGPT

    • Everyone knows it now, but many people opt out of using it mainly because of its accuracy. If that's you, I would revisit it again since its improving all the time - you dont want to be left behind on this one. I recommend (at least for now) paying for GPT-4, and using it for questions that require minimal context. Using it right will supercharge your ability to do basic tasks in practically anything. Expect it to improve your worst instead of beating your best, and you'll get great value out of it.
  • Tailscale

    • If you've ever had to set up a VPN, you'll appreciate what a miracle this is compared to that. Fast point-to-point networks, easy user management and no central server going down ruining work for days make this nothing short of an incredible piece of tech. The real magic underneath lies with WireGuard but kudos to Tailscale for productising that technology so well.
  • Vercel + Next.js

    • This combo has made deploying websites a breeze. The Next.js structure is straightforward enough to get you coding with minimum setup tedium, and Vercel's generous free hosting services are basically a couple clicks away if you push your Next.js project to a Github repo. Word of warning though, it is a bit uneasy that Vercel is built on top of AWS, and Next.js has definitely increased in complexity recently, but for now - at least for me - all is well.
  • Github

    • Another obvious one, but free version control with great integrations with tons of other web apps. The PR review process is the best out there currently, and CI Gihub Actions is great for lightweight projects. Even its project management is getting pretty good! Unless you want to store code on your own servers, it's hard to make the case for ever not using Github.
  • Railway

    • Recently discovered, but I've been blown away with how easy it is to create an online app with microservice architecture here. It's very cheap, doesnt charge you for idle compute time, and has a supremely simple UI. Long may it continue, but there is a looming shadow of a takeover happening one day and the app being optimised (and ruined) for more profit once it gets too popular.

Special mention:

  • Ollama
    • I haven't used this a lot, but LLMs are all the rage right now and this opens it up for devs so well. Switch between models easily, since a new one seems to come out every week, and interact with it super simply via their Python or javascript libraries. Deploy it quickly via their docker image and power your apps in no time at all.