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Jason Leow ~
Jason Leow ~

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Secret dev tools for every code newbie

I’d been learning a lot of new programming tricks lately and picking up new tools too. Some of these tools got me really excited that I have to share them! These tools are not commonly recommended in online tutorials or articles and might not be well-known to code newbies:

Coding, hosting - Glitch

This really blew my mind. It sounded like just another Github alternative on paper, but when I arrived on the site, all the vibrant colors, cool whimsical illustrations……! It’s like Github but with unicorns and rainbows; like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory but for coders! It’s got so much personality and confidence in their branding, that I’m super impressed. Such a fun and delightful experience just browsing through all the code repos. And it’s not just a prettier Github, but a better one too. Glitch allows you to code collaboratively in realtime, much like Google Docs. This makes Github feel like Windows 95 Microsoft Word (oh wait, Github was acquired by Microsoft lol). You also see your site or app deployed live in a preview window with a unique subdomain (or custom domain), much like Codepen and JSFiddle. There’s definitely something of a trend here, where community-generated content is built around a collaborative tool.

Command Line - Hyper

Using the terminal used to scare me a lot, but since having to learn Rails and Vue, I had to start using terminal quite a lot and am slowly coming round to it. But not the user experience of it though. The developer experience of using this dark mode interface with neon green characters isn’t the best, so I decided to try out Hyper. It’s an alternative to using your native terminal, and comes with themes to add color to the text, and plugins like search that allows you to search for a particular command you used in the past. Much better UX now.

Testing APIs - Insomnia

Postman is a popular tool for testing APIs, but it feels bloated. I chanced on Insomnia from a tutorial and loved the simple and well-designed interface for it. Sometimes simple with less features is better for beginners, because it’s not so overwhelming. Coding a Ruby on Rails API is completely new ground for me. It was scary initially, but after following a few tutorials, I feel more confident, and being able to now set up the GET/POST/PUT/DELETE requests and test the API easily had really boosted my morale.

Database - TablePlus

This was a real life-saver. I hated trying to access my database over the terminal. A database is best visualised as a table, but command line returns it in text! It just doesn’t go. TablePlus shows the data you have in a table format, allows you to query and search easily, and more.I’ve not even touched the depth of the features available. I’m just so relieved to be able to see my data now in a table format, in a way I can understand, and manipulate my data much more easily.

Design - Figma Community

This new Community tab in Figma is still in beta, but I can see that it’s going to be a huge hit amongst designers. Figma is a collaborative UI/UX design tool, kind of like Photoshop remixed with Google Docs, but ten times better. I always felt it had an edge over Sketch (which is another design tool popular with UX designers), but now with the Community feature it’ll really stand out, because the Community feature is like Dribble remixed with Github rolled into one - a bank of Figma templates made by notable tech companies (like Spotify) and great designers. Browsing through all the different templates made available for free, I almost feel like I don’t ever need to design anything original ever again, because all I need to do is to search, and then duplicate and customize to my own project. And it’s not just templates for designing UI for phones or desktop screens, but also lots of cool collaborative tools and templates to hold a remote brainstorming session together, resume templates, everything! It’s like a designer’s dream come through!

Follow my daily writings on Lifelog, where I write about learning to code, goals, productivity, indie hacking and tech for good.

Top comments (3)

blackbugzy profile image
Micheal A

This is such a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing. A lot of tools are clumsy from beginners point of view.

jasonleowsg profile image
Jason Leow ~

Thanks Michael!

jeffsvic profile image
Jeff Svicarovich

Great info, thank you!!