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— Aug 11, 2014 —

A good workman never blames his tools

As the saying goes, "A good workman never blames his tools". And yet, over the last year or so, there has been huge growth in the emphasis placed on tools and workflow. So much so that the definition of being a good designer or developer is becoming blurred with how proficient you are with a given set of tools.

Conversations pop up on Twitter where the instigator will claim some piece of software is the best, far better than what many other people have used over the last x number of years. This is then followed by others responding by questioning the instigators judgement, or bringing their own opinions to, what is now, the debate.

But, in the end, that is what they are, opinions. Everyone is entitled to their own and unless an opinion is completely outweighed by fact, then that opinion is valid, regardless of another individuals point of view.

No one should have to bow to the peer pressure that I'm sure we all used to experience in the school playground, either having to pretend to like something, or to feel coerced in to doing one thing or another in order to appear cool.

Surely we've all grown up, we are adults after all, and shouldn't feel the need to impress our opinions on others or dish out disparaging remarks to those who don't follow the latest trends or utilise the latest thing.

Knowing how to pre-process CSS with Sass doesn't mean you're good at writing CSS. You can write what could be labelled as bad CSS – bad in my opinion, but bad as in not taking advantage of the cascading nature of CSS – and still have written it using Sass or SCSS, compiled it and then minified it for production.

The trendy things in workflow automation, such as using Gulp which typically appeared just as I'd started getting to grips with Grunt; using Sass when I'd been writing vanilla CSS for, well, since it replaced table layout; using Sketch in place of Illustrator or Fireworks; they're all just tools.

They are a means to an end.

We should not be aiming to become master of the tool – that comes with time – but aim to become a master in reaching your goal, whether that be a production ready website, a high fidelity design for a mobile app, a prototype for a small fraction of a larger whole, or any other myriad of things we consider to be deliverables in our line of work.

I only have to go back 3 or 4 years to have never heard of the term 'workflow' when it came to how I built websites on a day-to-day basis.

As the saying goes, "A good workman never blames his tools". The way to becoming a good designer or developer relies on your skill, your enthusiasm, your creativity and willingness to learn.

It's not about your tools.