Lanning Blog

Be a Toolsmith

If you want to improve your teams output and level up your development skills, be a toolsmith. Many developers forget they can automate, generate, auto-check, auto-format...the list goes on... AND reduce friction in their average work cycle.

The problem is, you don't know what you're missing until you get it. The way around this is realizing every facet of what you do can be improved. Everything. There are thousands of opportunities ripe for picking.

So how do you begin? Identify some part of your work you don't like doing. Now narrow it down to something bite sized that's within your grasp. Maybe you want to auto-tag pull requests with a "feature" or "bug fix" tag. Train a classifier to do this and hook it up to your pipeline (or more likely, use an already made tool). Doing this will teach you tons of stuff about your build pipeline and implementations. As well as improve the dev experience for the whole team. Other options include writing custom editor plugins, custom browser extensions, python scripts, etc.

Common objections:

  1. I don't have time to do this - Wait until you have time to do it. If you never have time to do work you feel would improve the dev experience for your team, you probably have a culture problem.
  2. I'm bad at writing tools - Exactly, writing tools is the only way to improve at it!
  3. A tool would take a long time to pay itself off timewise - Tools aren't strictly to increase productivity, they're to improve the developer experience and teach you how to write useful tools. This skill will payoff extremely long-term dividends for yourself and your company. If your team is even > 3 people, total time saved can quickly add up.

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