Simon B. Støvring

Developer with a passion for iOS and developer tools. Building Runestone, Scriptable, Jayson and Datajar. Aspiring home brewer.

22 Jul, 2022

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What is your favourite developer tool and why?

I love developer tools and enjoy trying out new tools as well as building developer tools myself. However, my day-to-day setup is quite boring. I like to keep my setup fairly simple and not be too dependent on a long list of developer tools in my day-to-day work.

My favorite developer tool that I use almost daily must be the Nova app by Panic. It isn’t specific to iOS development but it’s by far my favorite text editor for macOS. I have a strong love for text editors, in particular text editors that feel modern while also remaining true to the platform, and I believe that’s exactly what Nova does.

Nova has a lot of advanced features for running and debugging code. I don’t use those. I’ve tweaked a few of its settings to turn it into a simple “scratchpad” for writing syntax-highlighted text. That can be anything from Markdown, JavaScript, and JSON.

What's one tool you wish you had used sooner?

For many years I used git solely through the terminal. One day I noticed that people I worked with made better commits than me. The changes in their commits were more specific and as such, it was easier to understand their thinking when reviewing PRs and browsing the history in a repository. I also noticed that they were faster at cherry-picking commits and rolling back changes. In short: they were better at using Git than I. I was only better at using Git through the terminal but what does that matter if the end result is worse?

I realized that I had gotten lazy when using Git and I had never really picked up the more advanced workflows. I decided to improve this and that’s when I went searching for a Git client with a GUI. I tried a few clients but none of them really clicked with me. Until I found Fork, a very powerful Git client developed by just two people. I’ve been using Fork for about three years and wish I had started using it much sooner.

What is a tool you couldn’t live without?

As someone who primarily makes software for iOS, the obvious answer would be Xcode. I spend a huge part of my day working in Xcode, and probably to a degree that I can barely live without it. Xcode is also the boring answer, so I’ll pick something else.

The one developer tool that has stayed in my toolchain for the longest, except for Xcode, is Charles. It’s a tool for viewing, debugging, modifying, and replaying network traffic. You can set up Charles to proxy all HTTP and HTTPS traffic from your Mac or iPhone to inspect and modify any request and response. This has been an important tool for me in debugging and understanding iOS apps for the past 10 years or so.

Charles is a Java app, so it doesn’t feel native to macOS. However, I live with that because I know my way around the app and it has been rock solid for years. If you’re only just getting into debugging network traffic with a proxy, I’d recommend taking a look at Proxyman, a native macOS app with features similar to Charles.

If you could choose one tool/app to be installed on Macs in all Apple stores, which one would it be and why?

For an app to be installed on Macs in Apple Stores, I think they have to appeal to a wide audience, be easy to get started with and be a prime example of how a Mac app should look and behave. I can’t think of any app that matches these criteria better than Sketch.

I use Sketch almost daily for designing my apps, and websites, mocking up ideas, and sometimes even just measuring distances in a screenshot. All of it is fast and intuitive. I know there are popular competitors to Sketch out there but none of them ‘click’ with me the same way that Sketch does. I think it’s the prime example of how a Mac app should look and behave.

Your top 5 apps on your Mac/iPhone/iPad?

Tot for quickly jotting down text that I don’t need to keep around. Text that I need to keep for a longer period of time goes into Notes.
Tweetbot for staying in touch with the iOS developer community.
Things. Without it, I wouldn’t get much done. Almost everything I need to do throughout a day, whether it is on my day job or in my spare time, goes into Things.
Fork. I feel like changing from using Git in the terminal to a GUI-based app has made me a better developer.
Sketch. For all the same reasons as listed previously. It’s one of those apps that I really enjoy using.

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Thanks for the interview and your time Simon! Follow Simon on Twitter if you want to stay up to date on his journey!