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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E.

Essential Podcasts for Entrepreneurs & Tech Lovers

Podcasts are a great way to discover new subjects and new people. Whether you are a tech lover or an entrepreneur, bellow you will discover podcasts for entrepreneurs you should – without a doubt – listen to. 

Itnig Podcast with César Migueláñez, Bernat Farrero and Carlos Pierre
Itnig Podcast with César Migueláñez, Bernat Farrero and Carlos Pierre

« Masters of Scale » 

with Reid Hoffman

The host: Reid Hoffman decides to turn to the corporate world instead of pursuing a university carrier. He worked for Apple, Fujitsu for then starting his own business: SocialNet and left it in 2000 to join Confinity. Confinity gives life to Paypal after fusionning. Finally, in 2003, Hoffman co-founds LinkedIn. He is Master of Scale’s host. 

About: The podcast welcomes some of the greatest entrepreneurs. You will discover throughout the talk how they managed to take their companies from 0 to a lot of zeros. You can listen to Masters of Scale’s special guests like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Selina Tobaccowalla (Evite), Brian Chesky (Airbnb) or Nancy Lublin (Crisis Text Line). Must-hear: one of the top tech podcasts for entrepreneurs.

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Youtube

The Team: Reid Hoffman, June Cohen, Deron Triff and Jai Punjabi

« Rocket » 

with Christina Warren, Simone de Rochefort and Brianna Wu

The hosts: Christina Warren started as a Freelance Writer. Then, she worked at Mashable as a Senior Tech Analyst and Tech Correspondent and ended the journey at Microsoft as a Senior Cloud Developer Advocate. About Simone de Rochefort, she is  Senior Video Producer and co-host of The Polygon Show. Brianna Wu founded her first startup at the age of 19, Giant Spacekat. She was Head of Development at the time. She is now running for US Congress. 

About: In this podcast, you will discover three passionate women and their “geek conversation” as they like to call it.  No guest speakers, but you will be able to listen to a panel of tech subjects from Apple to Comics, you will not be disappointed. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Castro

« This week in Startups »

with Jason Calacanis

The host: Jason Calacanis starts as an internet industry journalist in New-York. In 2003, he co-founded Weblogs, Inc and then a few years later he joined Sequoia Capital, launched the web directory Mahalo. He also founded ThisWeekIn.com. Furthermore, he created This Week in Startups podcast and a startup named Inside.com. Finally, he was part of the creation of the Sydney Launch Festival. 

About: Either you are looking to start your own company, or you are a successful entrepreneur, or you just love technology, this podcast will give you a peek to the entrepreneurship world. You will hear stories of all kinds! On his website, you will also find his events and some research on transportation, healthcare and more. This is one is part of the tech podcasts for entrepreneurs not to be missed.

Listen to the podcast: Apple Podcasts, Youtube, SoundCloud and RSS Feed

You can also subscribe to their newsletter in order to receive episodes directly. 

The Team: Jason Calacanis, Jacqui Deegan, and Tony Agapiou

« Recode / Decode » 

with Kara Swisher

The host: Kara Swisher is an American journalist specialized in the technology industry. She first started to work for an alternative newspaper in Washington for then working for the Washington Post. She wrote articles for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and wrote her own books. Finally, in 2014, she created Recode, a website dedicated to the latest technology news. In 2015, she initiates Recode Decode. 

About: The weekly podcast welcomes tech experts and great entrepreneurs. They review how they got there, what’s on their mind about the current industry and what they would improve or create. Her recent guests were Elon Musk (Tesla CEO), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg. 

Listen to the podcast: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn

« K Fund PodKast »

with Jaime Novoa

The host: Jaime Novoa’s background is quite diverse. He is a writer and an investor, but he also worked in data analysis and social media analysis. In 2014, he founded Novobrief, a newsletter for startups. Then, in 2016, he becomes an investor at K Fund and he founds, in 2019, Dealflow, a weekly tech newsletter. 

About: The podcast discusses startups, entrepreneurs and Venture Capital. You will discover enterprises and their story. From data science, unicorns or digital platforms, you sure will find more than one interesting podcast. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website and Soundcloud

« Clockwise »

with Dan Moren and Mikah Sargent

The hosts: Dan Moren is an active author and writer as well as podcaster. He was a Senior Editor at Macworld. Today, he hosts two podcast shows: Clockwise and The Rebound. As for Mikah Sargent, he started as a Website Designer and Developer for then switching as a Senior Editor at Newsy. He now hosts few podcasts such as Clockwise on Replay FM or on TWiT.tv. 

About: The weekly podcast discusses technology and welcomes each time 2 special guests. For 30 minutes, they address 4 topics where all four speakers get to elaborate on the matter, highlight the issues and expose their thoughts. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Castro

« Itnig Podcast»

with Bernat Farrero

The host: Bernat Farrero starts his career as a Developer. In 2009, he founded Itnig, a startup ecosystem that organizes entrepreneurship events. They also have a coworking for startups, a podcast and a fund for early-stage projects. Furthermore, he is a Founder of Factorial, Quipu and Camaloon. He is also a Board Member of Playfullbet, GymForLess and Parkimeter. Finally, he hosts Itnig’s weekly Podcast. 

About: The podcast welcomes every week a new guest. If you wish to learn from successful entrepreneurs, you are on the right platform. The discussions turn around Technology and its industry. You will come across guests like Carlos Pierre (Badi), Vincent Rosso (BlaBlaCar) or Oscar Pierre (Glovo).

Listen to the podcast: Youtube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Ivoox, and Google Podcasts

You can subscribe to their newsletter if you want to receive the podcast’s link every Monday. 

Whether you are at an early stage of your project, an investor or you are just curious, these podcasts for entrepreneurs give you the opportunity to be updated on tech and business news. Also, you get to learn from successful international entrepreneurs, which can definitely be very useful for your business.