You know that amazing feeling that you get when starting a new development project? Code that doesn't smell. No technical debt. A clean architecture that hasn't seen battle with changing requirements. Lately that sweet, relaxing feeling has been dulled on my new projects.
As I've become more acquainted with modern developer tools I've been feeling more and more pigeonholed before I even write my first line of code. Each tool fits on a spectrum of flexibility. Less flexible tools work great when you use them exactly as instructed, but fall apart when you try to do something a little bit different. They can be really powerful and save you a ton of time until you need to change the smallest thing. Then everything falls apart. The worst is when that dependency nightmare hits you full force. Want to use tool X? no problem, just install tool Y first. But actually tool Y requires grunt. Oh yeah but for that you'll need npm. No worries, npm only requires node.
On the flip side, there are some amazing tools that still feel clean. Sass for example is relatively easy to install and degrades gracefully to CSS if you don't want to use any of it's syntactic sugar. Even better, there are a ton of optional integrations, so if you are using Grunt you can use the Sass plugin, or the regular sass watcher. That's the key to a good, flexible developer tool. Don't force me to build my whole toolchain around you. Let your tool easily sit next to all the other tools that I'm already familiar with. Don't pigeonhole me!
What developer tools do you use that don't kill your buzz?