Tools

Sharp, light, precise

Dedication to speed, assessment, hitting power (Suvorov) keeps us focused on the lightest, sharpest tools.

Where practical we write in Dyalog, for brevity, abstractive power and maximising semantic density in domain-specific notations.

Otherwise we use ASP.Net, CSS, Javascript, PHP, RTF, XHTML, XML, XSL-FO and XSLT, for which our preferred tool is a text editor.

Basecamp Basecamp
The indispensable tool for dispersed teams, the poster-child for simplicity and usability, and the web application from which Ruby on Rails was extracted.
CSS Zen Garden CSS Zen Garden
Design studies in elegance and precision using Cascading Style Sheets.
Dyalog Dyalog
The most widely-used APL development platform available, used in applications where it is important to integrate domain experts in the software development process. Possibly the best APL in the world.
The Elements of Typographical Style The Elements of Typographical Style
Robert Bringhurst’s guide to document design, selecting type and laying out pages. Indispensable experience and poetic writing.
Extreme Programming Explained Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change
Kent Beck on how to deliver software people really want. He didn’t know how to fix conventional software development so he took everything he knew that works and turned all the dials up to ten.
Getting Real Getting Real
37signals, the authors of Basecamp and Ruby on Rails, on how to write software.
Type and Layout Type & Layout
Colin Wheildon’s research on the readability of different typefaces and layouts. Essential for keeping readability and æsthetic issues distinct.
Up The Organization
Robert Townsend’s classic manual on How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits. Wiley is publishing a commemorative issue in 2007.
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Edward Tufte’s classic of graphical design for statistics, ruthlessly removing rubble. Worth its price simply for the principle of Maximizing Data Ink.
The World Wide Web Consortium
CSS, XHTML, XML, XSL and the rest: the only place to find out how they really work
fencer

Having sharp, familiar tools is not enough. We also need to study, reflect on our experience, and share and test it with colleagues.

Stephen Taylor edits his professional association’s journal Vector, and is a frequent speaker at conferences.

Here is a selection of his articles and papers on software development.

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