Mastering Your Tools: Becoming a Better Programmer Without Any Programming

The Keyboard

The keyboard is exceedingly simple. It has a bunch of keys which you press to see (fairly) predictable effects on your screen. However, this tool puts the “hand” in “beautifully handcrafted code”, and thus deserves to be mastered. But what is there to master in this simple device?

  1. Being fast enough to not make typing cumbersome.
  2. The keyboard isn’t getting in your way when you work.
  3. The keyboard or the act of typing isn’t something that you are conscious about.

The Text Editor

When you’re not hunting for the copy-paste-able StackOverflow snippet to fix the cryptic stacktrace you’re looking at, you’re most likely editing code. And pay attention to my choice of words here. I didn’t say that you’re “writing code”. Because contrary to what most people might think, we don’t spend much time writing new code. Most of it is spent editing existing code to improve or fix it.

The Shell

The Unix shell is perhaps one of the greatest advancements in computer history. It gives you a level of communication with the computer that nothing can match. It sounds both daunting and annoying to have to remember and type out commands to do things, but when you see how efficient it is, you’ll find GUIs a lot more annoying. I personally don’t leave the terminal unless I really have to. I won’t talk about why this is important or showcase the power of the shell here because this post already does a great job of doing both, so check it out!


This area is for tools that don’t necessarily warrant a full section. Don’t be misled into thinking that mastering these is less important though. In fact, many of these things might be more important than the ones we talked about, in part because knowledge of this stuff may be an explicit job requirement. So bear with me for a little longer.

My Rig

“So what tools have you mastered, Ajmal?” Glad you asked. The answer is “None”. But if you want to know which ones I am in the processing of mastering, read on.

Parting Words

I hope this gave you some direction towards being at your craft. You may not agree with the importance of every little thing I’ve mentioned here, but a modicum of effort towards a few of these things will pay big dividends down the line.



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Mohammed Ajmal Siddiqui

Mohammed Ajmal Siddiqui

Full-stack JavaScript developer and coding enthusiast. I love learning new technologies and sharing my knowledge. Find me on