Developers love automation. Our jobs depend on automation and taking away a bit of the pain in completing repetitive tasks. Unfortunately, not everyone at a company knows just how much basic automation of everyday work can greatly improve both their productivity and give them time to concentrate on more important decision-based tasks.

I witnessed one such case at an entry-level job about a decade ago. It was at a small company that lived off of advertising spaces that were sold by only one employee. She was the best employee on the team. We’d mainly interact whenever something went wrong with her computer, usually to scrub clean her malware-prone machine. In one such case, after cleanup, I noticed she was transferring several contacts from an email message to her Windows Address Book by retyping them with both programs’ windows tiled next to each other. I quickly learned that she wasn’t copy-pasting the information because she didn’t know that was possible. It only took 3 minutes of training, and after receiving a few flattering thank-yous, I realized just how much I took for granted the basic tools I was so familiarized with. This may be an extreme example, but it helps illustrate just how much benefit tiny improvements to our workflow can make, and how much time our team may be wasting on needlessly tedious tasks.

As a frontend developer, I can get projects up and running faster with every new tool I add to my toolkit. Armed with boilerplates, frameworks, preprocessors and building systems, I can generate more quality code while writing less than ever before. Yet this is not usually the case for designers, illustrators and image content creators. In this article, I want to give a few examples of designer-related tasks that can be improved using better toolkits.

frontend_dev

Picture by Alejandro Escamilla

Let’s start with some basic file exporting. Whether it’s preparing raster images or vector illustrations, we’re always faced with the time consuming task of adapting our work to the desired media. One such case is creating images for the web or mobile apps.

Since Photoshop’s Save-For-Web feature doesn’t export 8-bit PNG alpha channels correctly, and produces files that can be greatly reduced in size, let’s use ImageOptim-CLI along with Alfred (to avoid having to use the Terminal). After downloading and installing ImageOptim, ImageAlpha, ImageOptim-CLI, and Alfred, simply install the necessary workflow file. You can now generate small, metadata-free, web-ready JPGs and PNGs using a few keystrokes in Finder.

Another similar case are the bloated SVGs exported by Illustrator and Sketch. We’ll use SVGO and a simple folder to improve them. Any file dropped into the folder will be reduced in size and have unnecessary code removed. First we install SVGO. Next we install the Folder Action. Create a folder, right-click it and choose ‘Folder Actions Setup’. Select svgo.scpt, and close. That’s it!

For both the previous examples, creators will be able to improve how they work using familiar tools, and only using the Terminal during the installation of the dependencies.

Let’s look at a very different case: Many email newsletter design creators are familiar with HTML and CSS, but not with task runners. Email HTML has several limitations compared to what we use on the Web. Writing clean templates while minding the limited CSS support in email clients can be painful. Configuring Gulp is more complex than the tools used in the previous examples, and I’ll leave that out of this article, but the configuration I use is available for anyone wanting to use it. This building process does the following:

  • Lets you work in separate CSS and HTML files.
  • Removes unused CSS styles and reorganizes those styles for better compatibility.
  • Tells you the features you used that may conflict with specific email clients.
  • Compresses all images and optimizes their file size.
  • Generates a single HTML file that’s highly optimized.

A lengthy chore that can be replaced by running a single line of code to run the building tool.

The benefits of automation in these examples are evident, and I’m sure creative developers can think of similar cases that can help their fellow teammates. Design work is hard as it is with the creative decisions that need to be made, and the everchanging goals of the content they create. I used designers as an example in this article, but many other workmates can also benefit from our help. Taking the time to build your colleagues internal tools such as these is a worthwhile investment, and I’m sure many of them will appreciate the effort.

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by Pablo Delgadillo
Front End Developer at Camaloon

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W.

WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A COWORKING SPACE FOR YOUR STARTUP

Your home office or a coffee shop won’t be enough!

Yes, we all know the tale about the guy who starts a small company in their garage or basement, has a brilliant idea and becomes the next Steve Jobs. It’s true, most successes have very humble beginnings. It’s also true that not all garage or basements are going to magically get you a successful business. They might work in the very (veeeery) early stages of your startup, but you can’t always meet a client at coffee shops, not to say your basement. 

A great, if not the best, solution is to find a coworking space. Coworking spaces have become very popular all over the world, either for freelancers or entrepreneurs and startups. 

Coworking spaces are not just big rooms with desks and chairs with high-speed wifi. The areas are made to be exciting places to work and improve your productivity.

As a startup, you need to find resources fast and affordably. More importantly, you’ll need motivation. This is why you should consider a coworking space. 

Here are some basic but amazing benefits from coworking spaces:

Community

Joining a coworking means joining a community.  Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs, freelancers and talented independent people is without doubt a one of the best features of a coworking.

Motivation is key when starting a new project and trying to develop your own business. The road will get though and you’ll appreciate other entrepreneurs’ vision and support! Other workers’ feedback can be very useful to improve your service/product before trying to sell it to the world. 

Networking, networking and…networking!

As a startup, you’ll be looking for networking opportunities. Most coworkings host professionals from different kind of industries, which can open up many doors for you and your business. Not all coworking spaces are about networking, some of them prefer to have a quiet individual work environment, so as a startup you have to make sure to choose a coworking with networking opportunities.

At Itnig, for example, we love to share ideas and support other entrepreneurs. Don’t be shy, some of the other coworking tenants can bring great business opportunities, or even become new clients (and friends)! 

Budgetfriendly

As entrepreneurs (or people for that matter) it’s very important to understand the importance of money, more specifically: budget. Tight budgets call for smart spending. Coworkings are usually budget friendly, most of them offer different membership options depending on your startup’s needs and budget.

Amenities 

A coworking provides you with everything needed to be as productive as possible. High speed internet connection, printers, conference rooms and COFFEE. Some coworkings even plan afterwork activities and events to make it all more fun! As a startup, a coworking space is your best chance at having all the basic amenities but also the fun ones, like a ping pong table or a nice chill out terrace. 

Happy clients

As you grow and have more clients, it can get messy if you keep meeting them in coffee shops. Coworking spaces offer office services such as conference rooms. That way your meetings will be more professional and comfortable for everyone. 

Barcelona is a city full of coworkings of every kind! Our Itnig community keeps growing, we now have up to 20 startups such as Andjoy, Classlife, Factorial and Freeverse, all under the same roof. We have afterwork activities and we also plan different kinds of events open to anyone interested in marketing, tech stuff, entrepreneurship and design. Our space is about 2.100m2 with up to 800m2 of conference rooms, events space, ping pong and fun activities. 

There’s also  wifi, endless coffee and talented people. Join us!