State of my Workspace 2021

Jan 15, 2021, 3:59 PM

Tags: sotu
  1. State of my Workspace 2017
  2. State of my Workspace 2021

A few years back, I wrote a post about the State of my Workspace, and I figure now is as good a time as any to write an updated version.

That said, looking through my old post, it's a little surprising how much remains the same, considering how many of the categories where allegedly in transition at the time.

Eclipse is Eternal, Apparently

Over the years, I've spent varying amounts of time in IntelliJ, and it's remarkably good in a lot of ways. I love how well-integrated its features are, and the revamped Endpoints pane in the latest releases is outstanding. It's speedy, consistently-updated, and well-considered. It particularly shines when working with a single app (either an individual thing or a small multi-module project), such as working on this blog.

That said, I still use Eclipse daily and always return to it when I try to switch away. Eclipse itself has been improving steadily too. Recent quarterly releases have focused a lot on performance, and it's paid off - the switch to non-blocking completion proposals in particular has brought some of the editing snappiness that other editors revel in. In addition, the Wild Web Developer project, though still jankier than, say, VS Code, does a good-enough job bringing fully-modern JS editing to Eclipse by way of using the same underlying LSP as other editors (the fact that it's also the backbone of NSF ODP's Eclipse support helps too). It also has some of the inline Java hints like IntelliJ does now, too, dubbed "Code Minings".

There are a few things that keep me coming back to Eclipse other than just "it's speedy like others now", too. Most of my work involves working with multiple sprawling Maven trees from distinct repositories. While IntelliJ can do that by way of importing modules, Eclipse's UI just makes it easier to manage. There's also the eternal back-and-forth about Build Automatically, and I come down thoroughly on Eclipse's side there. While IntelliJ has some options to do something like that, it's not as consistent as Eclipse. With Eclipse, I can be confident that the Problems pane will always show everything applicable. In general, I just feel more in-control of a large set of projects when working in Eclipse, and that goes a long way.

Issue Trackers Are Even Worse Off Now

Keeping track of open issues for my various tasks - both open-source projects and client work - remains a real thorn in my side, and the situation has degraded further over the years. I quite liked using the app Ship years ago, but then the company behind it shut down. The Mylyn Bitbucket connector, too, kept breaking and I gave up on it entirely a while ago. This has left me back in the situation of manually checking various browser tabs to follow everything, and that stinks.

Every once in a while, I've tinkered with writing my own little coordinated issue-tracker app to bridge all the differences, but it never really gets off the ground. It's just one of those things where it never really makes sense to sink a bunch of non-billable time into slightly improving the way I manage actually-billable time. Maybe one day it'll tip over the mental threshold and I'll actually solve the problem. We'll see.

My Computer Is Due For A Change

I ended up buying the iMac Pro I mentioned in my last post, and it's been pretty decent. However, I've hit the same trouble that Marco Arment of ATP ran into, which is that the fans on this thing go constantly. It crept up over time, with them just spinning up when I would e.g. compile a bunch of stuff at once, but now they're going basically any time I use it. It's still under AppleCare, but, between the pandemic and the fact that there's no time when it's convenient for me to be without my development environment for a week, I haven't taken it in. It's just led to be getting more and more annoyed over time.

Fortunately, the M1 Macs should be an opportunity to cut the Gordian knot: my old MacBook was due for a replacement, so I'm swapping that out for an Air. In theory, that Air will be equivalent or better than the iMac Pro for the type of work I do anyway, and I'd long ago moved my Windows VM to a PC in the basement. I plan to give it a shot as my main desktop once it arrives, and that'll also give me some room to take this thing in to be fixed. I'm looking forward to that, since it'll be nice to not glare at my computer in annoyance all day.

Oh, and, since I mentioned Storage Spaces last time: since then, I took an old tower Mac Pro and installed FreeNAS in it, and it's a delight. FreeNAS is cool and I legitimately missed working with FreeBSD. So now I have that thing handling mass storage, while my gaming PC runs Windows Server and hosts my various development VMs using Hyper-V.

Other Misc. Tools

In my last post, I mentioned Franz as a coordinated tool for the ridiculous number of chat apps I had. I ended up settling on it and, other than some consistent problems with notifications and audio, it does a good-enough job. Certainly, it's a much-better experience than running all of those stupid apps individually, that's for sure.

I also did indeed make the switch from SourceTree to Tower. While I appreciated the $0 price of SourceTree, its general crashiness and tendency to hang on complex operations got to me and I've been using Tower ever since. It does exactly what it's supposed to and does it well. Nice job, Tower.

Browser-wise, I used Firefox Developer Edition for a while, but switched back to Safari when Firefox developed a tendency to somehow hard-crash my computer. I don't know if it's a computer-specific thing (likely related to whatever the fan trouble is, I'd guess) or trouble with Firefox, but it's not exactly the sort of thing I want to have to diagnose. Safari is speedy and I'm getting used to the developer tools, so it's a fine replacement.

For mail, I (and my company) have been using Spark for a while, and it's great. The ability to share emails and have inline threads among people in your organization is wonderful.

For calendars, I use Fantastical. I miss the days when I didn't have to really care about calendars at all, but, given that I regularly have meetings, this does a splendid job dealing with them. I quite appreciate the recent additions of weather reports and the automatic detection of meeting URLs, too.

For blogging, I use MarsEdit, both because it's good on its own and because writing an API for my blog meant I didn't need to bother making a good editing UI on my own. I think it's also just conceptually good to use tools that work with open protocols like that.

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