Developer Tools

I have long said I’m not really a developer. Whenever I used to see news articles in the past quoting me as “Alan Pope, Developer at Canonical”, I would cringe quite a bit. I say to my professional developer friends that I’m not one, and they often roll their eyes at me.

What makes someone a developer though?

I have a GitHub account. I have developed code myself. I’ve badly written HTML, BASH shell scripts, JavaScript, Python, and even some (finished, and some unfinished) “games” in BlitzBasic, BlitzMax, Z80 & 6502 assembler.

But I’ve never been hired as a developer as my primary role. Developer Advocate, sure, that’s what I do now, for Axiom and previously for InfluxData and Canonical. But never explicitly “Alan Pope - Software Developer”.

In terms of education, I went to college in the UK many years ago (last century) and got a BTEC in Computer Studies. That included a bunch of coding classes. I also studied for a BTEC in Electronics which had some Z80 assembler classes.

So I can code, but I still don’t call myself a “Developer”.

I think one blocker on this for my brain is that I never went to University, so don’t have a degree. I think part of me thinks I’m not a ‘proper’ developer because I never got a ‘proper’ qualification. Seems fair to my brain.

Anyway, that aside, I do use some developer tools often, as part of my job. The main one being a text editor or IDE.

Back in the 1990’s when I used Windows as my primary OS, I really enjoyed an editor called TextPad. It’s ’nagware’ which works fine, but bugs you every so often to pay for a key. Eventually I relented, given it had been my primary editor for some years, I figured I should pony up and buy a license.

TextPad is a great editor! It’s fast, featureful and reliable. I even ran it on Linux under WINE when I first switched desktop OS.

Later, I would use Gedit, Kate, Vim, Nano and all manner of other text editors on Linux.

At some point I discovered Sublime Text, probably around the time I started building a snap of it. Like TextPad, it’s featureful, reliable and very fast. I loved it. Also like TextPad, it’s ’nagware’ which asks kindly for you to pay for a license. I did pay up back in 2020.

But shortly after, I discovered VS Code, and kinda fell in love with the power and extensions available. I used Code for a fair while on every platform. I liked the GitHub integration, huge number of extensions, and built in features.

But Code has gotten a bit like me recently, fat and slow. I have longed for the speed and agility of TextPad or Sublime Text. So, I have punted Code and I’m back on Sublime Text on every machine, with Sublime Merge (that I also paid for) for GitHub repo management.

I’m much happier. The editor loads fast, remembers where I was, and hasn’t lost a file yet! I love it.

I clearly have some strong opinions on the text editor I use on a daily basis.

Maybe I am a developer after all…