Customize your command line interface in Mac OS X

When you use you the MacOS for a development environment, you will have to use a command line interface to get some things done. With MacOS, you get the default command line interface tool called Terminal. You may notice that the Terminal window is a bit bland. What can you do? You can customize it.

Customize Your Terminal Window in MacOSX
Photo By: joffi

When you use you the MacOS for a development environment, you will have to use a command line interface to get some things done. With MacOS, you get the default command line interface tool called Terminal. You may notice that the Terminal window is a bit bland. What can you do? You can customize it.

Customize Terminal

When you first open Terminal, it looks a bit like this.

terminal macosx

To make it look better, you’ll want to change the appearance by changing its colors. It comes with 10 different profiles or themes: Basic, Grass, Homebrew, Man Page, Novel, Ocean, Pro, Red Sands, Silver Aerogel and Solid Colors.

To pick a different profile:

  1. Open the Terminal
  2. Choose Preferences from the Terminal menu
  3. In the General tab, choose a new profile from New window with profile
  4. Close Terminal and relaunch

Not sure which profile to pick. You can open a terminal window with the selected profile. In Terminal, click on the Shell Menu, choose New Window, scroll over to the drop down menu and select a profile. A new window opens in the profile theme that you have chosen.

terminal window themes

You can also tweak a profile by changing fonts, colors and much more. Open the Terminal’s Preferences and click on Profiles. In the Profiles window, click on the + button to create a new profile. Then, change the settings as desired.

terminal profile window

After working with the Terminal window for a while, you may want to change how it looks. You can choose to change the fonts and colors, pick a theme or create your own. What if you don’t want to use the Terminal Preferences window, you can edit the .bash_profile file. Whether you customize by using the preference window or edit the bash file, you can make the Terminal window look the way you want.

Pomodoro For Programming

Writing code can be challenging when you have different and conflicting demands on your time. How do you focus on your code without exhausting yourself? You can try the Pomodoro Productivity technique.

Pomodoro For Programming
Photo By Nathaniel Jordan

What is Pomodoro?

Pomodoro is where you focus on a task like a coding problem for 25 minutes. Then, you take a 5 minute break. After the break, you start another 25 minute round. Break. Repeat. After about 4 rounds, you take an even longer break (20 or 30 minutes). This technique was invented by Fransesco Cirillo. He called it Pomodoro because he used a kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.

How do you use it for programming

You plan to focus on one programming task or problem at a time. Work for 25 minutes or longer. Some people like to use 45 minutes instead of 25. After you have worked for the planned time, take a break.

When you are writing code, it can be hard to watch the clock and take a break on time. You can use a kitchen timer or apps on your phone or computer. Or you can build your own Pomodoro Timer.

With productivity hack, no one technique fits all. You may need to experiment or tweak before you can get it to work for you. If you work in an office, you can’t stop all of your interruptions. By explaining this technique to your boss and coworkers, they will understand that you are using it to limit your distractions and that they can talk with you when they need to. Alex Mitgusky wrote about how he uses the Pomodoro technique as a programmer.

Build better daily coding habits

Programming can be fun and challenging. Writing good code even more so. At times, we can be confused looking at code that we just wrote or code we wrote several months ago. We can write better code by incorporating these four coding habits.

Build Better Daily Coding Habits
Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Learn new things

Learning new things can help you elevate boredom. Yes, sometimes programming can get boring. You can fix that by trying out a new tool, technique or programming language. As technology and programming constantly changes, you may be wanting to learn the latest language that everyone is talking about. Try to learn one language at a time. By focusing on a single language, you can learn how to use it and when.

Read

Read about programming and technology. Don’t get your information from only blogs and online magazines. Read books. Books can teach more than a blog post can. Also, read code. Not code included in tutorials but actual published code. By reading the code you copied from Stackoverflow or downloaded from Github, you can learn new ways of writing and organizing your code.

Experiment

The best way to learn a new programming language or framework is to build something with it. You can start with a tutorial or a throwaway project. Throwaway projects help you learn new skills while creating something new. These projects are for experimenting and learning you don’t publish them.

Share what you have learned

Share with others what you have learned. Write a blog post on the things that you learned from your experimental project. If you don’t like writing, create a video on YouTube or talk at a Meetup. By sharing what you have learned, you may can new insights on what you had created.

Summary

Keeping up with new technology can be a full-time job by itself. To keep your programming skills fresh, you should set aside time to learn new things, read about programming and technology, create your own programming experiments and share with others what you have learned.

Looking for more habits to help make you a better programmer? Sonny Recio describes the habits he uses to be a better software engineer.

Tips for UX Writing

What is UX Writing? It is the practice of writing copy that is used in user interfaces to guide the user and help them figure how to use the website or app. You write your copy to ensure that everything matches the tone and style of your brand. Microcopy is the small pieces of copy that helps the user get stuff done. These little pieces are typically error messages, button text, helpful hints, notifications and more.

Tips for Ux Writing
Photo by Sarah Pflug

Why UX Writing?

It affects how the users interact with the UI. Good copy makes the user interface easier to learn and to use. It guides the user on what they need to do and doesn’t interrupt them. Bad copy ruins the experience for the user. It makes it harder for the user to learn and use the UI.

Tips for Good UX Writing

  1. Have a conversation. Talk to your users. Avoid writing robot-like messages. Use words like “you”, “we” and “our”.
  2. Keep it simple. Be brief and avoid complex technical jargon.
  3. Don’t be too quirky. Trying to be fun and cool can backfire. Use it sparingly.
  4. Test your copy on a variety of users. If they are having trouble understanding or using the UI, you need to change your interface or simplify the copy.
  5. Reflect your brand. Make sure your copy matches your voice and tone. Refer to MailChimp’s Content Style Guide for tips on writing for your users.

Copy is an integral part of your UI. The copy should guide the users and be unnoticeable. Good copy improves the usability and functionality of the UI. It helps a user to intuitively understand what they need to do. If you have to explain your UI, it isn’t done right.

More Posts on UX

CSS Grid Starter Projects

What is CSS Grid? CSS Grid is a CSS Grid layout method. It is designed for creating two-dimensional layouts for websites and applications.

CSS Grid Starter Projects

How to learn more about CSS Grid?

CSS Grid Starter Projects

You can learn CSS Grid with starter projects. They can help to build basic layouts. For most of your projects, you’ll need to build two, three and more column layouts. You can use starter projects to learn how to make these layouts.

Two Column Layout

Start building a two column layout. Two column layouts are quite common on the web. You’ll find them on most websites from blogs to startups.

Three Column Layout

After building a two column layout, you will want to be able to add more columns. Three columns is another common layout that you will need for your projects.

When learning a new layout technique, start small and build more complex layouts as you learn how to do it. By building with starter projects, you can see how you would use it in your real world applications. Not all of your projects will be simple. They may require more columns or additional features like a hero image or even a carousel. Build on your new skills by creating a production ready CSS Grid layout.

Photo by meisjedevos