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Friday, April 15, 2011

Schedulefly and Notepad, a (simple) match made in Heaven.

Today I was writing some code and I realized that I have written every last line of code for Schedulefly in notepad, the most basic text editor. Our outside website, the Schedulefly app's UI, the middleware and the SQL back end. All of it. I likely sound like a idiot to many developers, but it's the only tool I've ever used that does not get in my way. It does not try to help me by writing code for me or predict what I'm trying to do. It's just a plain white blank canvas that can be used for anything I do. It just sits there and waits for me to create something. HTML pages, JavaScript code, server code, database scripts, backup routines etc.

There are definitely some amazing tools available today for software developers and designers to use to build a product. Pick your favorite language and platform and there are tools to help people design, build, compile, test, package, deploy and store their products. There are a few tools that keep it simple, but most of them are bursting at the seams with complexity and features that only a small % of people would use. Most also require you to have a high powered, expensive computer with a huge amount of memory, a blazing fast processor and a large screen resolution. Personally I'd rather work from a small screened cheap laptop or tablet.

I guess I have not missed helpful things like intelli-sense (a code auto-complete feature available in many dev tools) since I've written every line of code and am so darn familiar with the methods, functions and APIs I've written. The other reason I love this basic editor is that no matter where I am (at home or in a cab or maybe in the Florida Keys), I can simply hop on our server, grab the files I need to work on, quickly edit them and move on. Since all I need is notepad - I can do this on my mom's computer, my sister's iPad or an old dusty computer at some random public library. Heck, I've even squashed a few bugs while on vacation using only my iPhone. By the way, getting internet access in the Florida keys can be spotty - so I usually don't make changes to Schedulefly a week or 2 before I go there to be sure things are running smoothly :-)

Of course I understand this works for us because we don’t have a team of developers and an office and a network and all that. If we did, I guess I would need some more development tools and processes in place to keep everyone and everything organized. But thank goodness I don't. Maybe one day I will, but for now it's just so darned simple.

So before you go drop thousands on a fancy development environment....try it with notepad only. See how far you can take it. You may find the limitations of your environment help you keep your product simple.

Wes
Schedulefly

p.s while I do keep everything cheap and simple in development - we've spared no expense on the data center and network for our sites. You can read more about it in this fun post from last year.

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