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The Designer's IDE

Development Process, Software Development, User Experience

As a designer or UX professional working primarily in a developer's world, one usually gets stuck using whatever the developers are using while being expected to accurately perform all of the tasks they we're hired to do.
As a designer or UX professional, you have to admit: That's a bunch of crap.
These days, designers are expected to also essentially be junior developers, which is very true. If you don't expand your reach into that realm, you're going to be left behind. However, since they have a completely different mindset, designers can't be expected to do things the same way that developers do. They need a set of tools geared towards them that enables them to perform their tasks as effectively as possible, just as developers have tools geared towards them.

Integrated Development Environment

(...or interactive development environment.) An IDE is a bunch of tools all used together in the same application that a developer would use on a daily basis. You can really give up looking for one specifically created for a designer. Even though they may claim designer compatibility, they're all for developers.
As a designer, one might be able to get away with using something like Eclipse, but you shouldn't... partially because you can't be limited to that, and partially because you're going to understand things in a different way and your "IDE" is going to need to consist of multiple apps. Ultimately, it should be a series of apps customized for how you understand your projects and how you personally work best.

Here's what I've found to work the best for me

(I'm gonna assume that because you're a designer, you have a Mac, and you use Adobe products.)
First, seriously get a developer to help you get down the basic Terminal commands for shutting down/starting your server and maybe any other general process, like Maven. I have a few terminal windows open on specific directories and a tail running on a log file. Also make a good effort to understand how the repository works and how branching and new features are being used.
Then, for my code, I use Coda 2, by Panic, which potentially can be essentially the designer's IDE. (It's in the Apple App Store.) It even has built in Terminal, so you can essentially use it for a lot of your work (if you know the basic Terminal commands from your developer buddies). There are a lot of amazing features in Coda 2 that I won't get into right now, but I strongly suggest giving it a good solid chance. To me, others don't compare and its very visual-based interface makes it a great designer's number one sidekick.
Finally, if you have it available, learn to embrace the Atlassian tools. At first, they may seem way outside your comfort zone... but they really aren't and they're very useful.
Picking a few essentials: Starting with Jira, from a task you can toss your comps and get visual approval right there. Then, right there in Jira (if you have Stash or Bitbucket as your Git repository) you can create a branch with a simple link.
Inside Stash or Bitbucket, from another easy button, you can have have it take you directly to Sourcetree (Atlassian's Git branch viewer/manager) where you can easily do everything you need to do in Git without having to know all the Git Terminal commands that the developers tell you are easy.
That's the gist of my environment and it has served me very well.

TAGS: Development Process, Software Development, User Experience

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