At this year's beyond tellerrand Stephen Hay was giving a talk which influenced my last two months significantly. He was speaking about simplicity. Since this talk I'm haunted by a single thought:
Start a new project as simple as it can get and only add things if you really need them.
Sounds pretty obvious, right? But we forgot how this works a long time ago. We live in boilerplate and packagemanager land. We have a tool and grunt task for everything and beat the tiniest piece of CSS to death with SASS. Everything has to be based on a framework and we spend more time arguing about which framework it has to be than actually writing code.
Do you remember the days when you opened a text editor, hacked a couple lines of HTML and CSS and published it via FTP?
When I started studying design it was all about learning Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, all kinds of video editing and 3D software and being super creative with it. It was a common thinking amongst my friends at university and me that being a good designer is about being really good with those tools.
Our arts professor once said to me: The pencil is the closest connection between your brain and a piece of paper.
Creativity is within you and all you need is a fast way to let it out. The more direct, the better.
For a web developer the editor is the pen and the browser is a piece of paper.
The longer I look at boilerplates, build tools, frameworks and ways to make my life as a developer easier, the more I long for the basics.
In the last two months I moved away from SASS for all new projects, though I know how helpful it can be in many places. I moved away from inuit.css, which I really liked as a CSS toolkit and went back to better structure my own CSS. I ditched Angular for Kirby 2 and went for a very reduced and tiny combination of loosely coupled js components.
Basically Stephen made me throw away lots of my work from last year and I'm very thankful for that. It helped me focus again. It helped me to get back to a more simple — pen and paper-like — setup and to recognize that I hardly loose anything. Instead I feel I gain a more direct connection to my brain.