Aaron Gustafson: The Tools I Use

The latest in our series “The Tools We Use” features Aaron Gustafson, web standards and accessibility advocate at Microsoft.

I really love working with Interface Experience (IX) Maps when planning and designing progressively enhanced interfaces. Essentially, IX Maps are flowcharts detailing where there are potential deltas that affect the way a component is experienced by the end user. The simplest examples would be whether JavaScript is running or not or whether a specific CSS feature is available or not. An IX Map doesn't dwell on the cause of these experience changes, it simply makes note of them insofar as they might lead to two different users having necessarily different experiences of the same component. These simple flow charts have really changed the way I work with my teams and the way we communicate. I find them indispensable.

VS Code: I was a Homesite user for years on Windows. When I moved to the Mac in 2007, I tried TextMate and ended up sticking with that for a long time. When I got a new Mac upon joining Microsoft, I tried Sublime Text for a while, but then we launched VS Code. I was a little apprehensive at first. After all, when you use a text editor day-in-day-out, you get used to its look and feel, its features and its quirks. Even contemplating a new editor gets me a little agitated. That said, when I finally jumped into VS Code I was floored by how fast it is and how intuitive it is to use. The integrated terminals, plugins, configuration options, and other features are amazing. And it's cross-platform, which is also a big deal now that I am dividing my time more and more between macOS and Windows 10.

Ruby: I was a PHP guy for a long time, but have been dabbling in Ruby for years. For the last two I'd wager it's the language I use for the bulk of my programming work—beyond HTML, CSS, & JS, naturally. I've always appreciated the simple beauty of the language and I love using it to write utilities and plugins for Jekyll.

Todoist: I am pretty godawful at time management. Occasionally I get it under control, but then I end up going off the rails. Lately I've made a concerted effort to have a burn-down list of daily tasks to keep me on track. Todoist has been great for that.