Web Development: When to Automate
Work automation is critical for productivity and efficiency and therefore a priority for (senior) developers. This is a section of an upcoming article for meiert.com that I likewise wanted to share as is, before any additional editing.
The ambition to become a professional, an expert web developer who knows their craft so to find effective but simple solutions comes with a particular balance to find. That balance is to automate as much as possible without, at least at the current stage of our field, becoming lazy and neglecting the craft itself.
This may sound more obscure and difficult than it is.
First, the recommendation for the already knowledgeable developer is to automate: Any task repeated should be checked for automatability through scripts and tools. This sense and skill must be developed and fine-tuned, and it makes for an invaluable asset especially in enterprises involving more than one person (the developer themselves).
Second, balancing needs to take place where either of the following is true:
- automation costs more than keeping on doing the task manually (the factor is left to the judgement of the reader);
- the task can only be automated at a detriment to overall quality;
- the original task is of (even temporary) instructional value for developers.
The first reason makes it economically unwise to automate; the second regards quality a greater priority than efficiency; and the third places higher value on the craft and teaching it than on the efficiency achieved through automation. These factors do all want to be considered when it is about automation.