You’re only as good as the tools you use

In all honesty, I can’t recall how it all started with web development; I vaguely recall using Wordpad on Windows 3.11

Maybe because I’m about to push mid-4o’s or perhaps because it doesn’t really matter. There are things that one fails to register, for good.

At some point, however, I started using Arachnophilia, a brilliant HTML editor by programmer and world traveler, Paul Lutus. That was around 1996 but the editor is still being supported. Check the guy’s web site out, you will gain a lot from his philosophy in life.

During the same time, I used Paint Shop Pro at an era that Photoshop did not support layers. Adobe invested more in development and version 3.x introduced layers, something that took Photoshop a giant leap away from the competing software of its time.

Design skills are acquired by observing the trends around you and by using the tools at your disposal to emulate these trends. In other words, as a designer you don’t always try to be unique in your creativity. You are also bound to emulate, to reverse-engineer, to improvise on territory already explored.

A few days ago, the owner of the DNXpert blog talked down on tools used in the web development industry, specifically Dreamweaver, as opposed to ‘hand typing your code‘.

I laughed at this comment, only because I too had the same approach 15 years ago – when I used non-WYSIWYG editors. But I soon realized what a fool and a tool I had been; these tools saved me time and effort for a simple reason: I had full knowledge of the theory behind it all, using the right tool was simply an extension of my mind, my imagination, my vision.

Let me explain.

To this day, very few monkeys use tools: rocks to break nuts and sea-shells and sticks to poke bugs and bees out of their nests. These tools are essentially extensions of their own hands, arms, of their brain and intelligence. The ones that don’t use tools often depend on these tool-yielding monkeys for food.

If I were using Wordpad to type HTML and XML code today, I’d be a starving monkey.

Adobe is about to unleash the beast that is called CS5. In just four days from now, on April 12, the biggest bitchfest of tools dedicated to the serious web developer is about to be officially presented to the general public.

My goal in my professional life as a web developer is to always become better, to improve my skills and my capabilities, to serve my clients and myself better. My software upgrade will be monumental, as I am using CS2 – a tool that in my monkey paradigm would have been a 2-inch stick.

I want to own the foot-long bamboo to reach that pot of honey, and I’m going to get it. Because in web development, you’re only as good as the tools you use.

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  1. Thanks for the heads up on the CS5 launch – I’ve just registered at adobe to receive more info next week.

  2. haha i’m still using CS2 as well. as always, necessity is the mother of invention

  3. Theo,

    Holy moly CS5 has some sick additions… how about the genius who figured out how to “fill in” the background when you cut out an object from a single layer.

    How about full-on editing CMS based websites through Dreamweaver with live feedback and multiple-browser testing for compatibility.

    How about I stop going on and on like I’m selling something, but holy moly man this stuff is outrageous…

    PS I like your style. I’m going to bring you some business before this year is out.

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