BastianAllgeier

Pressure

I follow the battles between developer guilds for quite a while and now and then I post my own snarky remarks on Twitter about the latest JS frameworks to join the club.

It's too easy to get dragged into grumpy-mode these days. Articles like the satire about How it feels to learn JavaScript in 2016 help to release some steam from the ever growing pressure of newer, better, faster, slicker, tools, frameworks, libraries and other toys. But you have to be careful not to get too frustrated and angry.

An article, which made me very much aware of this again, is by one of my personal web heros: David DeSandro.

In the end it's all about what works for you. What is the best, fastest and most stable tool to transfer your ideas from your brain, via your fingers, into your keyboard and finally into your computer? "Best", "fastest", "most stable" are terms which are highly subjective here. They depend on various circumstances.

For me personally, I found that I get faster and better, the more I know about the tools I am using. This sounds like Captain Obvious. But I compare a programming language with an instrument. I play guitar for 23 years and I'm far from truly mastering it. But I play well enough, not to think about how to play, while I'm playing. I can improvise, let my fingers fly over the fretboard and just let my creativity flow. It took many many years to get there and still I know that it I will never stop learning with this instrument.

I learned coding the hard way by trial and error, pretty much like I learned how to play guitar. I always felt that every hour is moving me forward — even after years. It's all about practicing.

As a designer, I wasn't really confident with my coding skills for a very long time. I still often get this feeling of missing some "real" knowledge in this area. Especially, when I read about the latest and greatest trends in web development, I feel like a fraud, like someone who will never be a "real" developer.

But at some point I realized, that coding is like making music. The more you practice, the better you get and the more freedom you gain to express your creativity. True magic happens in music, when you get skilled enough to translate your ideas and emotions directly into notes. True magic happens in programming, when you are fast enough to translate your ideas into code as well.

I definitely gained more confidence in my own work over the years. But I realized that this necessarily means for me that I have to focus on a certain set of languages, tools and ways to write code. Pretty much like I decided more than 20 years ago, that the guitar is my instrument.

I am fast and efficient in PHP, I'm comfortable with HTML and CSS and I can express my ideas in JavaScript when I stick to the bad j word. Those tools, combined with my design background, give me the opportunity to let me be creative and I am more than happy with that.

For me, it's like focusing on being a good Metal lead guitarist with a decent amount of Blues and some Jazz background.

But before you start yelling "you have to leave your comfort zone!" here's the point:

JS-Fatigue, framework-fatigue, tool-fatigue or whatever flavor of fatigue, is caused by uncertainty. Once you find your comfort zone of instruments, which you know how to play well and you are able to express your creativity, the existential pressure to find something better stops.

This doesn't mean that you stop evolving. As a musician you are always looking for new ways to improve your style. A new scale, new chord progressions, new musical influences or new intonation techniques. It's the same with design or code. If we stop moving, we die. But we don't have to jump all the time.

Maybe in a next life I can be a good drummer. But I already found my happiness in being a guitarist. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy playing drums from time to time or maybe even piano.

Nowadays I really find peace in the process of playing with new frameworks, libraries and tools. They massively influence my own work. But I also learned to resist the urge, to replace my comfort zone every other week, as long as it is not absolutely necessary. I like to get inspired but then return to the good old stuff and just keep on building and being happy.