Marginal Gains

I found this article after Making the obvious code fast, where Jack Mott explained the impact of ignoring basic optimization. In his 2016 piece Marginal Gains, he went over some small tips to make developers’ lives easier. He had some good suggestions, and I want to take a minute to emphasize one of his points.

Use the command line as much as possible, so that you can automate as much of your work as possible. Most programs wrap one or more command line tools. This helps non-technical people. Take out the middleman, though, learn to use the underlying tool, and then write a script to work for you. Automate the boring tasks, so that you can focus on the exciting ones, take on new roles, further your own education, or even start a side hustle.

If you spend a lot of time optimizing images for the web, for example, let the command line handle that. Do you work with videos? It can handle that, too. If you spend hours scrolling through thousands of lines of log files, why not save some time by taking out all traffic to the server from your developers’ machines? You cannot do everything with the command line, but you can free yourself from the boring in favor of more challenging and interesting work.