In my last post, I mentioned I wanted to talk about developing a project workflow as a developer. However, after thinking about it for some time, my original intentions were not to say which systems you should or shouldn’t use or which ones I thought might be the best. I’m still exploring those types of things myself. What I really wanted to talk about was what steps you might take to execute a project from start to finish, during its build phase.
The reason I started thinking about this was because I really wasn’t quite sure where to begin when I first started working as a developer. When you are the designer and the developer the process from start to finish probably seems more natural, but what do you do when you are handed a .psd and asked to develop it?
This is where the type of workflow I was thinking about comes into play, but now I would call it a project set-up. If you are just starting with your very first .psd then some of this won’t apply, but you can think about this in terms of future use, and how you might set your project up today for what you might use tomorrow.
“Why reinvent the wheel?”
As a developer, have you noticed you have some elements that you tend to use in most of your projects? First thing I would do, is think about how you could set up a template or framework for yourself. If you are using some of the same elements in a design, you might think about ways to save that code so that you do not have to set it up in each project you do. Perhaps you have a blog or news feed on most of the sites you develop, or a rotating banner. If you have this coded and set up, the only thing you need to do is edit or add the CSS for the element. You just cut your time in half.
There are two ways to do this. Personally I use both, and use each method as I need to. I have a basic template that I start every site with. When I have developed something that I believe would be useful in the future in a different project, I create a new file with whatever code I might need and store it separately.
This is a great way to start a library of code you may want for future use. Remember two weeks ago when you developed that slide-out function, and now you have a new project that you discovered has that same feature? Why waste time trying to remember which project that was exactly. What if you are no longer storing the site you originally developed? Then what?
Set up your own library of code
This is why I say to create a library. You’ve seen how the jQuery library is set up right? It’s a great example to learn from. Set up your files in a way that you know what the particular piece of code is for. That way when you want to use it, you aren’t going and searching too long for something you might have found in a matter of seconds instead.
Have you developed something like this for yourself already? What methods did you find work best?