Cover image for What languages and tools do you use that spark joy?

What languages and tools do you use that spark joy?

robole profile image Rob OLeary ・1 min read

You may have heard of Marie Kondo, a Japanese Organization Consultant, she wrote a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In the book she discusses her method of organising, which is known as the KonMari method, it consists of gathering together all of one's belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that "spark joy", and choosing a place for everything from then on.

I think it could be a cathartic process for your digital life also, what if you gathered all of your digital "things" together, all of the languages, frameworks, libraries, and tools that you use, and decide what to keep from each category. What would you choose?

I think it's more important now than ever to review your "toolset" with this in mind. For your own well-being, you should remove things, keep the "joyful", and slowly add more. There is such a proliferation of new tech, this is a decision you need to take again and again, so it is important to have a good ethos for your personal life and career.

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Rob OLeary


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Lua! In my case, I used it with LÖVE.

It's exceedingly clear, it runs everywhere, and it's close enough to the metal that no bugs are magical. Every time I use it, it's a pleasure.


LOVE looks cool! I was unaware of Lua until I was looking at single-board computers, i was surprised that Lua was a common language to be bundled with them!


Yeah +1 to Lua. Aggressively simple. I've been enjoying my Lua with Lisp flavour recently - check out Fennel.


I still have a soft spot for Lua too :-) I mostly used it in the context of writing nmap plugins, but it's a lovely little language.


Löve is for sure the game engine I have enjoyed the most! Is is just fun to use even for the first time. I recently tested phaser and that was so rough in comparison.


observablehq.com and quokkajs.com

I wish regular development could have that kind of feedback loop


Some of the observable journals are beautiful, I have not used it, but would like to pick it up some time :-)


Sounds like you wish for a Lisp


Before answering that question, I'd go back to the roots of the KonMari method. "Sparking joy" is an imperfect translastion from Japanese, says redditor:

Long and short of it, ときめく(Tokimeku) is a compound verb by "Toki" and "meku", where "Toki" is derivation of "Dokidoki" (Heart pounding) according to the two main Japanese dictionary. Full meaning :

Daijirin Dictionary 3rd edition (大辞林 第三版 ) - "ときめく( 動カ五[四] ) : 喜びや期待などのために、胸がどきどきする。" = Due to the joy and the feeling of looking forward, the heart is pounding.

Daijisen Dictionary (大辞泉) - "ときめく[動カ五(四)] : 喜びや期待などで胸がどきどきする。心が躍る。" = Because of the joy and the feeling of looking forward, the heart is pounding.

Looking forward is crucial in technology. Tools and frameworks are constantly evolving. Sometimes, this happens too fast, with people focusing too much on trends and buzzwords.

"Joy" is not the term I'd use for my experience with npm - quite often, it's exactly the opposite, I'm feeling very frustrated. But in going forward with my current project, npm is the tool that will let me reach my goals.


Yep, I agree that you have to look forward in tech, and evolve, but I think it's important to be rooted in the present and not to be swayed too much, or too far from the core of what you enjoy. Of course, sometimes you have to use a tool because of a work environment, or the high adoption rate in the industry. So, if you can choose, choose a work environment that uses your "happy" stack!

I have not had to use npm extensively, so I cant share your pain! The trend that some people hope for is to use native imports more in the future and reduce the reliance on npm, I believe that's the ecosystem Deno is going for


If it's a tool: for me it is probably Wallaby.js - realtime as you type test runner with super powerful in editor feedback and debugging tools (and as someone else said, Quokka.js its sibling).

For a language then that's harder - I always had a soft spot for Ruby, I'm very excited about Elixir, I think C# is powerful and expressive, but coming from where it was - modern Javascript has a fluidity that is complimented by it's new found terseness and support for asynchronous coding.


Wallaby is the best. Not only is it a joy to use, if you by accident throw a project at it that doesn't work their support team is always very quick to help you out (Example: github.com/wallabyjs/public/issues...).

For other languages there are also alternatives. C# -> nCrunch, Python -> PyCrunch, Java -> InfiniTest.


I was a Ruby/Rails stan for a long long time. Did modern javascript for a couple years, going through all of the relationship phases there. Then I got a job doing C#/dotnet, all the type safety and building before seeing any change was annoying at first. But then it started clicking. I've grown very skilled at learning to like whatever platform I'm working in. But, C# is the first language that I'd genuinely be happy coding in for the foreseeable future.


I've had similar experiences going from language to language. If you go from statically typed to dynamically typed, it can feel wild west in the beginning, but once you recognise the types of things you need to be concerned with, and what you can ignore, the paranoia dissipates. For me, JS still feels a bit wild west. I prefer languages with more substantial built-in libraries. Over time, with familiarity, you can grow to like a language, but I think depending on your background and personality, you can be drawn to particular languages more.


Ruby and Rails spark more joy than anything else for me. I'm also a huge fan of Elixir, it's a phenomenal language and in my opinion, has some of the best documentation out there: it's standardized, concise, and easy to document your code as you go.

Svelte also sparks joy, I haven't been able to use it too much yet but the little I've played with it has me excited to try building something real with it.

As far as tools, Atom still sparks joy, it does everything I need, easy to configure and it was my first real text editor. For notes Bear sparks joy.


For me it‘s Go/Golang! I love to write it and learning something new feels like reading a good book. Interesting and rewarding


You know, programming in React is sparking joy for me. I like how easy it is to create components and refactor them into smaller pieces. It's 6 years old an still going strong, evolving and getting better while not leaving old code behind.


Unix systems come to mind - the philosophy of small tools that do one thing and fit together really well. Vi, specifically Neovim, always makes me feel right at home. Git just generally tends to make me super stoked by how powerful it is.

Honestly, there aren't many libraries, languages or frameworks that have made me feel that way. Most seem to have too many jagged edges. The closest one is probably pytest - fantastic framework. Super flexible, and so well thought out. Top-quality docs, streamlined design, no-hassle setup, plugins, and just the right level of guard rails. I'm not a huge fan of dynically-typed languages, but the Python community in general seems to be just so full of good ideas.


I love the library I created: rubico. Think RxJS, but no Observables, just vanilla types. I put up a website with some runnable code examples here. Here's a code sample with deno that I look at every now and again

import { serve } from "https://deno.land/std/http/server.ts";
import { map, transform } from "https://deno.land/x/rubico/rubico.js";
const s = serve({ port: 8001 });
transform(map(req => {
  req.respond({ body: "Hello World\n" });
}), null)(s);

For me it's my favorite side project which is a to do/ time tracking app that I use every day. Often times when working for clients I am completely detached from the end result. I will never use it myself. Using my app is the opposite of that and it gives me so much joy to have build something which is very useful to me and it makes me even more proud if it is useful to others as well..


The other side of writing code is liking what you're building! If you build own tools, I think it will give you more joy by default, especially since it matches your mental model for doing something.


Clojure so much. The whole ecosystem around it, and on Emacs, and yes, also that little tool called "clj-kondo" :P And lately to a big part the Fulcro framework. The tooling it has is amazing.


As a PHP user, I love using Laravel. I also love using Tailwind CSS whenever I get the chance.

Tailwind was weird to look at at first with all of the class names, but it quickly became easy to remember them by their prefixes.

As another comment said, the Tailwind IntelliSense plugin for VS Code also helps a lot when you're trying to find the right variation of a class (especially margin/padding sizes and text colors).

I guess I could say I'm happy not having to directly write CSS. It's so time-consuming.


For me, it's #elixir
Favorite to read.
Favorite to write.
Makes hard problems easier.


Despite its many quirks, JavaScript is fun. To this day I still pick up awesome little tricks like this one.


Svelte and TailwindCSS, especially when using together, are DX heaven :D


I noticed a lot of people speaking fondly about TailwindCSS. It's on my radar :-)


Good luck! My one piece of advice is telling you that there is a small initial learning curve where you will feel like it stinks, but if you push through that you will see the insane benefits of speed and simplicity of building things!

Yes, I can imagine, you need to learn and buy into the mindset, and then it becomes easy 😏

The TailwindCSS Intellisense extension for VS code makes it SO NICE

I've built a little interactive tutorial to overcome this initial skepticism you are talking about: learning-by-vueing.netlify.app/tai...

All free and can be completed very quickly.


Personally, I don't really see the benefit of TailwindCSS, or I haven't use it much.

  • TailwindCSS is still a framework, with unneeded CSS. You still have to purge / minify it.
  • Still, atomic CSS is a way to go.
  • Much can be accomplished using mere SCSS, but for some reasons, default HTML stylesheet is so bad... much has to be revamped.

Yes, please Change my mind.

I'd love to! But I can't change your mind unless you truly give it an honest chance.

  1. TailwindCSS is the only framework I know of that is "self-minifying". The act of sharing your classes across all of your markup, as well as the purging of all unused classes, makes it so.
  2. Agreed! I cannot stress enough how amazing it is to know what styles are being applied to markup just by looking at markup, and not having to uncover a specificity war in 4 other files across a project. Also, long gone are the days of overrides when you adopt utilitarian CSS.
  3. SCSS is still a fantastic tool! However, you will still end up writing CSS that is continually growing with your project, especially if you are using methodologies like BEM.

It feels like people think solutions like Tailwind are WET, when I would argue it's significantly more DRY. With utilitarian CSS, you never rewrite CSS for recycled padding values and text alignment, you just re-use what you've already written. Writing display: flex 200 times across 20 CSS/SCSS files seems a lot more WET to me.

But again, I can't convince you. Tailwind and utility-first CSS is something you have to experience to understand.

Edit: the current CSS file on my personal website is 2.5kb. That is absolutely insane and I love it so much.


Hands down Rust and Cargo. One of the best, most rewarding developer experiences I’ve ever had.


VSCode and Prettier together work so well :) And TypeScript as always makes me happy to work with as it provides such a great Development Experience. I really cannot begin to start a new project without TS anymore :)


I started using Prettier recently and it makes life easier. I appreciate tools with good defaults and that just work!



-Said no one ever :)


I'll be that person :P ... I love regexes. Tools like grep, sed, awk become power-tools when using regexes allowing you to slice and dice log files easily. They do have a learning curve, but once you have learned them, they are the most reliable tool, having a decent library in most programming language. I think regexes are a great example of abstract computer science (finite state automata) concepts being useful in practice.


I wouldn't rate regex as joyful, but I like it. I dont feel the dread that some people have for regex! For some tasks, it is great, and packs a lot of punch. I think a lot of DSLs have a similar effect on people.

I wrote a post recently about calculating the reading time of a post, and regex shrinks the code dramatically, no need to do any parsing of html.


I can't live without Emacs plus org-mode. This is what helps get me through my day. I used to have so many applications open at once. This just became more desktop clutter and became a big distraction. Now, I have very few applications open and this allows me to focus on the tasks I need to get done. There is no end to what you can learn or do with emacs. I enjoy learning something new every single day.


TypeScript (and Node.js) sparks an unhealthy relationship. It's love-hate, but the development is fast, as well as let me develop anything I can think of. (partially due to vastness of NPM, and partially due to dynamicness of JavaScript.)


Working with Laravel and Tailwind css now.


Vue's native 2-way data binding sparks big balls joy in my daily work. I'd marry v-model if I could!


A v-model husband 😄


I have really been in love with type checking in python with mypy.


Elixir is so beautiful to write <3