The Amazing Marvin Suggs And His Muppaphone coined the phrase “Another day, another headache”.
For me, it’s “Another Day, Another Front End Dev Contract, Another Set of Cool Tools”. Not quite as catchy but far more fun.
For starters, there is Codebase, a cross between the delectable GitHub hosting and the project management tool BaseCamp. I have yet to use it much, as the day has been filled with setting up Windows and the development environment (oh pure joy). But it looks interesting, and I’m assured that even account handlers can track issues. My, that simple ;)
The project is using the CSS preprocessor LESS. If you spend any time dabbling with Cascading Style Sheets, you really ought to spend some time learning to use at least one of them. The amount of time you can save with simple mixins and variables for your colours and fonts is well worth the investment. Personally, I use Sass but that’s really only because I like the Ruby-based CMS Nesta, so I have the development environment already installed.
As the site is quite simple PHP, the dev environment is a WAMP server, essentially Apache, MySQL and PHP pre-packaged to run on Windows (I’m using XAMPP). All pretty straightforward, you would think. But with one proviso:
Skype is used for instant messaging. I know that ZDNet’s own Jamie Watson can’t abide Skype, and I can see why. It takes over everything. It auto-starts without asking. You can’t quit it without logging out. And worst of the worst, it hijacks Port 80 on your computer. Yes, you heard me right, Port 80. This is akin to riding your bicycle on a motorway. You just don’t do it. You so don’t do it that no-one has even bothered to make a sign saying DON’T USE PORT 80, STUPID.
This meant that my Apache web server failed to start, and I couldn’t work out why for quite a while. Thanks, Skype.
There’s been plenty to digest from today but the overwhelming impression is the degree of pre-configuration: if you can pre-configure your working environment, then new members of the team can hit the ground running. I’ll be investing Codebase further, as apparently it easily handles deploying different versions of your website.