Chris Pietschmann

husband, father, hacker, entrepreneur, futurist, innovator, autodidact

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Tools Don't Make You Great

Every career and industry has it's own set of tools that are commonly used. Software Development is no different. These tools offer varying degrees of functionality that help people do their jobs. To a certain extent these tools do help people do better work, more work, faster work, etc. However, there is a limit to this affect.

As a software developer targeting web and Microsoft platforms, I use Visual Studio every day. There are many features that have been added to this tool over the years that make it easier to perform certain repetitive tasks. This is a great tool and I'm extremely glad I use it. Visual Studio pretty much sets a base line for Microsoft developers, as the primary tools used.

In addition to Visual Studio, most developers use various plugins to Visual Studio that offer various additional features to those built in to Visual Studio. While some of these plugins offer really great feature sets, they really are just a small factor in how good or great a developer is.

Tools don't make you great. There is no substitute for experience, knowledge and resourcefulness.

One example of this is Reuse. Sure tools may help you do repetitive tasks easier, but you are still repeating things. The DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) principal is a best practice in software development. It's a principal that encourages code reuse so you save time by only writing code once when possible. This makes for reusable functions and libraries instead of just "copy/paste all the things."

Another example is Resourcefulness. This is fundamentally knowing where to look and how to find what you need. By doing this, you'll be able to quickly find an existing solution to integrate, rather than creating absolutely everything from scratch every single time. This can save a HUGE amount of development time, and is not really something that any specific tool could help you with.

While tools are definitely useful, they cannot replace the more important attributes that make the difference between a good developer and a great developer. Don't give up your tools, but make sure you spend time learning, time growing at your craft by reading, playing and practicing. When compared to any tool, Experience, Knowledge and Resourcefulness will win every single time.

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