In Friday’s post, while talking about “rubber duck debugging,” I briefly alluded to something I called a “developer text file.” I thought I’d elaborate on that a little bit today.
For many of my projects I keep what I call a “developer diary,” usually just a plain old markdown file which I use to “walk around in” my dev-related thoughts for that project (Quiver looks like a neat tool for this too, but I haven’t tried it. I suggest going with whatever is the lowest friction.)
I usually make a new header every day (“February 15 2016”) and try to summarize what I’m working on, what’s going well, and what I’m struggling with. I’ll also add notes for things I still need to get done, and maybe where I might start tomorrow, as well.
Finally, I often use these text files as a scratchpad for things I’m working on. If I need to debug a lot of console data, it’s often helpful to paste it in my dev file so I can clean it up and annotate it. This helps me see a clearer picture of what I’m trying to debug, and helps me compare data while I make changes.
I’ve been finding this sort of file crucial while working on a remote team. The rest of my team is 3 hours behind me, so being able to have great communication with myself is essential while debugging. I get a chance to think through my problems more clearly, and if all else fails, I can always send them today’s snippet of my dev diary (as a Github gist) so they can catch up on my thoughts, too.
What do you use to help you walk around in your thoughts while developing? If you don’t use something like a dev diary, I highly suggest you fire up your favourite text editor and give it a shot.