I started off day 3 of my pairing tour excited and curious to work with a software crafter and get a view outside of the design team. My pair for the day, Diana, is working on a project that involves presenting the information associated with a thousands of items, and we spent the day styling the main presentation screen to be cleaner and easier to read.

I was looking forward to all the new, strange things that a software crafter does, and Diana did not disappoint. She uses Vim, a super configurable text editor that’s incredibly efficient once you learn it, but incredibly confusing when you’re just starting out. She patiently taught me the basics of navigating between and within files, and I started to understand just how powerful it could be if I took the time to master it. Learning it will definitely be a project I take on in the future.

Another tool I learned about working with Diana is Docker, a container technology that makes it possible to get a bunch of apps running at once. The fact that it’s a container means that it wraps a piece of software into a filesystem that has everything the software needs to run, like code, system libraries, and anything else that can be installed on a server. Essentially, it makes sure that the software always runs the same, regardless of the environment that the person working on it is using. After just a couple of projects where I’ve had to configure my computer’s environment to make it work, I can see how a crafter who switches projects every few weeks or months would view something like Docker as an essential tool.

Diana’s team had chosen Bootstrap for their front-end framework. While I personally prefer the more lightweight Bourbon, this is the second project I’ve worked on that uses Bootstrap, and I’m still just an apprentice. It seems clear that I’ll be working with Bootstrap again and again throughout my career, meaning I should dive in and get to know it better. Added to my list, along with Vim, is gaining a more thorough understanding of Bootstrap. Perhaps an ongoing Waza project will be to create a website built with Bootstrap using only Vim.

The actual styling that we worked on was relatively straight-forward; the challenge was in finding where the styles living within the project, as well as identifying Bootstrap’s weird default styles and figuring out how to override them. Also, Diana had a few short meetings throughout the day and left me alone with a small task to complete, and while I was able to quickly figure out a solution when editing within the browser, navigating the project with Vim slowed my pace down to a crawl.

The final thing I learned was how different clients and their projects can be. The last two days of AXUS were filled with meetings, roomfuls of people and lots of energetic conversations. Today was much quieter (which definitely isn’t a bad thing). We talked to Diana’s liaison a few times to get clarification on how she wanted things to look, and talked a bit with the two other crafters on the project, but it was overall a day spent mostly writing code making lots of visible changes. Both environments are enjoyable in their own way, and it’s reassuring to know that I’ll get to experience a lot of different ones here at 8th Light - with a consultancy, change happens often, an aspect that I really like.

Main takeaways of the day:

  • Vim is worth learning, even for a designer who doesn’t spend 100% of their time in front of a computer.
  • Just because I have a preference that’s not Bootstrap doesn’t mean I should ignore its existence. The fact that it’s popular means I’ll probably work with it again, meaning I need to become a Bootstrap master.
  • Every client project has its own feel.