The beginning of a new year is a great time to look back and reflect on everything we’re grateful for. As a web developer, I like to take a look at the tools that have made impacts on my work or side projects. Here are a few of the developer-related gifts I’m thankful for this year.


Setting up a local machine is easy to do for most of us. You install stack dependencies, an IDE or text-editor, and a web browser. Voila! You’re ready to work. Then, someone else joins your team or you get a brand new computer. Suddenly, you have to spend time re-installing everything from memory or from outdated documentation.

Vagrant can help speed up this process. It uses virtualization to create and set up virtual machines for any type of development environment. The configuration instructions for provisioning a new machine is stored in a Vagrantfile. The Vagrantfile can be stored or shared with other developers to create identical development environments on any computer with Vagrant installed.

This makes it easy to create self-containted development environments and replicate them on other computers with ease!


Most of my time at work is spent in web stacks. However, I recently spent a bit of time looking at ways to improve our development process. This allowed me to dive into a whole new world of automated testing and deployment.

Continuous integration is nothing new, but it was my first time working on the tools to make it all happen. My goal was to poll our code repository for new commits, run a suite of tests, deploy the changes to a staging environment upon success, and send a chat message to the authors.

Jenkins makes this type of automation really simple. Developers can create several different jobs, schedule them, and keep a backlog of the builds. The UI makes defining build-steps simple, but pipelines can be more customized with Groovy scripts. Jenkins also has great community support, with many plugins available for integrating with third-party tools and services.


My side projects usually involve exploring new technology stacks or experimenting with other programming languages. Rarely do I share any of them with the world. However, for quick and light web hosting, Heroku is my platform of choice.

If you know how to push commits to Github, you know how to deploy to Heroku. It has a suite of command-line tools for managing everything from deployment to one-off Bash commands. It also provides a nice UI for viewing logs, anaylzing metrics, and configuring environments.

Admittedly, I’ve never had to scale any of my projects, but for me, Heroku provides just enough for my needs!


Many, many thanks to the creators and maintainers of these tools! Without them, my life as a web developer would be more difficult.

What are you thankful for this year? Let me know in the comments!