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What do people use to get the job done?

Johan Nordberg

Johan Nordberg

Freelance developer (Wintersmith)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Johan Nordberg, a freelance software developer and creative with a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, alternating between Sweden (where I'm from), Italy (where I have my main base) and Japan.

When not working for a client, I like to experiment with new technologies and make open-source tools and libraries.

What hardware do you use?

My main computer is a 13" MacBook Air and I have a 15" MacBook Pro that I use for graphics work. And I'm not sure if this counts as hardware, but I use Amazon EC2 to offload my laptop for heavy workloads like 3D rendering and data processing.

Besides that, there isn't much else needed for my work. I have pile of iPhones and iPads for application testing, or that's what I tell myself when I want to get the latest model anyways :D

Oh, and my portable speaker, the "iLoud". I love music and this speaker sounds great, plus the batteries last for a whole day!

And what software?

I use lots and lots of software! What I use varies greatly with the type project I'm working on, but I'll try list the tools and libraries I keep coming back to.

Sublime Text 3 is probably where I spend most of my time - it's where I do all my coding. Except for iOS and OS X apps, though, where Xcode is the only sane option. My second-most used app must be iTerm2, which is a great replacement for OS X's I especially love the "visor" feature that lets you have a system-wide hotkey to quickly toggle a terminal. And in that terminal, my shell is zsh with oh-my-zsh.

I use the Creative Suite (mainly Photoshop, Illustrator and Lightroom) for design and mockups, and Final Cut Pro for video editing. And when things need to get automated I use GraphicsMagick and ffmpeg respectively.

For 3D modelling and rendering I use a combination of Fusion 360, Cinema 4D and Maxwell Render. And when I need something sliced for 3D printing I use Simplify3D, which I found through countless hours of experimenting to produce the best results. Slic3r is pretty good too, if you want a hackable alternative.

To organize my work I use Timings to track where I spend my time, and Slack to communicate with clients and collaborators. All code is managed with git (with GitX as front-end) and self-hosted on a server running Gogs, except for open-source stuff which lives on GitHub.

My favourite programming language is CoffeeScript, which basically is JavaScript with a better syntax. I also use Python, Go, Swift and occasionally a bit of C.

For web development my stack usually consists of Wintersmith, Browserify (with Coffeeify), Browsernizr and Stylus for the front-end. And Node.js + hapi for the back-end. Or just Go with the standard library if performance is key. I would also like to mention d3.js - it's mostly used for data visualizations but has almost everything you could ever want for working with 2D graphics and the DOM; I've built entire web apps using nothing but d3.js.

On my servers -- which I host on Scaleway and Vultr -- I use FreeBSD or Debian, and I usually put nginx in front of whatever web app is running on them. And I use rsub to remote edit files on them.

I manage backups with a self-hosted Syncthing cloud that has servers in both hemispheres so I can get decent speeds wherever I'm located. I also use Carbon Copy Cloner to make bootable full-disk backup images.

I use Alfred as an easily accessible calculator, 1Password to manage my passwords, and I try to install everything through Homebrew with Cask.

That's about it, I think. I also use a lot of paper to get my thoughts organised before they go into the computer in some form.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm super excited for VR! I have a HTC Vive on preorder and I'm currently building a beast of a rig that will power it. I have this vision of a virtual workspace that I want to explore, and I plan to spend the next year following that, experimenting with UI concepts in VR.

So I guess my dream setup would be a device with a small screen you keep in your pocket, just like a smartphone, but with a pair of goggles you put on to enter your virtual office to get stuff done.

Or if all that fails... the new line of MacBooks looks nice! One of those and a $5k monthly allowance on Amazon EC2 would be pretty sweet :)