The curse of the perfect tool
As a developer, I spend most of my time writing code and as a result my code editor is my primary tool. When I started, back in 2011, I went for Sublime Text as my editor of choice. In the following 10 years, I found myself trying and considering switching to a lot of different tools: VSC, Nova, Storm and Atom just to name a few. But in the end I always went back to Sublime. And the reason is not that it’s the better tool. Maybe it is or maybe it isn’t, I honestly don’t know. The reason why I’m still using it is because I don’t have enough compelling reasons to start all over again with a different app. It’s just not worth it.
Now, could I be more efficient using a different tool? Undoubtedly. Could I write better code if I switch to a more complex IDE? Probably yes.
And yet, those are still not valid enough reasons to change my current workflow. And that is because there will always be a next improvement lurking around the corner. We can always find a better workflow, a better tool, a better setup.
But that’s not what my job is all about. My job is about creating sites for people to use and enjoy. That’s where my attention should be focused. Once I have a tool that is good enough for its job I can focus all my energy on the things that matter.
I’m writing this as a result of a Twitter thread where people were discussing markdown editors. There’s a billion of those out there and yet people are still making new ones. But no tool is quite right and I think that’s a problem that finds its origin in the current abundance of solutions.
My intuition is that this is somewhat related to the concept of Overchoice.
Tool A is almost perfect but tool B has this feature I like and tool C has a better layout. So you end up not being happy with any of the three. And if you’re a developer, at some point you’ll inevitably think about making that perfect tool yourself. And the cycle repeats again.
Before you start thinking I’m anti-progress and anti-innovation, let me say very clearly that I’m not. I just think some problems are not really problems. They’re annoyances at most.
10 years ago I started writing in iA Writer. It’s definitely not the perfect app to write but it allows me to write this post you’re reading right now and that’s all that matters. Could I be using a better writing app? Maybe. Would the end result be better? Maybe. Is it worth it? I say no. What matters is sharing content and ideas. What matters is starting conversations. My English will still suck even if I write it on a better app. There will still be typos. A better app won’t make me a better writer.
So my advice is, find something that’s good enough for what you’re trying to do and then do the bloody thing. Better tools can wait.