The best thing about being a developer

The best thing about being a software developer

Table of contents

Building your own tools

One of my favorite things about being a developer is creating my own tools.

In some cases, this means building a tool that only I can access - one that supports login with GitHub but only allows zackproser through.

Most recently, I've been building Panthalia, but this post is about the benefits of building your own tools as a developer.

Building tools is good practice

You're still building software and picking up new experiences when you work on pet projects.

You're more free when you're hacking on something for yourself.

You can feel free to try out a new framework, language or architecture.

Eating your own dogdood makes you sensitive to dogfood taste

When you are both a tool's creator and primary user, you quickly pick up on which UX patterns suck.

Having a janky workflow around saving your content will eventually bother you enough that you'll fix it and make it more robust.

I believe this helps you to have more compassion for the experience of end users when you're building something that is intended for wider consumption.

It's fun

Building your own software tools

Especially as the functionality you originally desired begins to take shape.

It's a singular feeling

To one day realize that the tool you've been hacking on for a while has finally turned a corner and is able to solve the original use case you set out to solve.

Tool development can be lucrative

Some developers polish relentlessly until their project starts getting real adoption and becomes a real revenue stream for them.

But this isn't the only way that building your own tools can make you money.

The skills and experience you pick up while hacking are applicable to full-time jobs, part-time gigs and contracts. In my experience, the best developers are those who are constantly scratching their own technical itches by trying things out in code.

A little bit down the road, when you're using at your day job what you learned in your spare personal hacking time, you'll see the value of contantly building things for practice.