Dan Davies{ Front-end Developer }

Automation rekindled my love affair

14th February 2015

Last year, I wrote about how automation was killing my love affair. At the time of writing, I was about to move jobs and hadn’t really been doing much Front End Development due to the switch to UX. Looking back at that period, I probably owe automation an apology. I was under the assumption that automation should just work and if I’m brutally honest, there was an element of “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing here.” I kind of gave up too early.

Truth is, nothing actually worked for me. Grunt wouldn’t install and I just gave up and took it out on everything but my patience. Plus, with me moving roles and likely not to do much Front End again, I just decided to leave it as it were.

Fast forward 4 months and I’m out of a job. Job descriptions all talking about Grunt and other automation techniques and I’m proper shitting myself. Front End has changed and I’m not up to speed.

Now I’ll stop there for a second.

It’s easy to get caught up in the latest techniques and things become bigger than they need to be. Being able to use Grunt or whatever you use is not really a skill. It’s a tool. Not knowing this stuff is not a disgrace. It doesn’t make you a worse developer so don’t think you need to know all this stuff. I think at times, there is misunderstanding as to what tools and skills are defined as, especially when it comes to looking for a job. Writing vanilla or using a tool still at the end of the day produces pretty much the same results. So don’t feel inadequate even if you are looked at like some idiot.

Now back to where I was. 4 months on, never got Grunt to work.

I decided I needed to look at playing catchup if I was going to do well in Front End again. I decided UX was too broad and that I wanted to establish myself in something I think I’m good at and use all the skills I have at hand. I’ll talk more about that at a later date.

So I tried to install Grunt again and low and behold, I got it working eventually but I still found it hard to setup and found myself at a crossroads. I almost gave up but I read somewhere about Gulp.

30 minutes later and plenty of reading, Gulp is installed and working. I’d now got my CSS and JS being compiled and minified. Images were compressed and I felt like a God.

It just took a bit of effort on my part to try it, take my time and research it. I still don’t know how it works or what I’m doing with it as such and I won’t even attempt at talking technical about it. It just works and I’m happy.

So yeah automation. Sorry for being a dick. I’ve learnt my lesson now.

If you are like me and struggle with setting stuff like this up, here is a great Gulp introduction from Sitepoint.

Good luck and enjoy

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