A Maker’s Alphabet: ‘H’ is for – Hack it together (Hack like no one’s watching)


You have an amazing idea, but every time you sit down to work on it you dive down a rabbit hole, lose hours learning tools and technologies and get distracted from actually making stuff.

Tools like npmBower, Webpack, Gulp are amazing, but when do I get to write my code?!?

Eventually, you’ll have boiler plates to help you leverage these amazing tools to help rapidly make your ideas. If you don’t have a boiler plate don’t worry – Just you to focus on making.

OK. Let’s get hacking…

Wait… Isn’t hacking bad?

Don’t be afraid to hack something together. There’s no shame in copying & pasting snippets and libraries from other sources or even working directly in the browser’s console and developer tools. Getting to a working testable version of your idea as fast as possible is more important than writing beautiful unit tested code. If you’re bothered about what others think (which you shouldn’t) use Bitbucket to store your code in a private repository.

When is it good to hack?

Ask yourself:

1) Will this hack negatively impact others?

  • If you’re working on your own and no other makers have to pick up your code
  • If the users testing your solution know it’s been hacked together

2) How long with this hack live?

  • If the hack is only going to live for a short time (even if you’re working on an existing solution) hacking might be the best approach.

Of course, hacking can be bad

Hacking shouldn’t be adopted as a blanket approach to everything you make. It should be carefully considered and justified. Ensure you ask yourself the ‘When is it good to hack?’ questions above to guide your decision.


Ultimately, knowing when to hack boils down to common sense. The key is not to be afraid: there’s a time and a place for hacking (as there is writing scalable maintainable code).


Check out the rest of A Maker’s Alphabet: An A to Z for coding, hacking and getting sh*t done. Follow @whodadada to and the hashtag #makersalphabet to get the posts as they’re released.

Des Holmes Written by:

Hello! My name is Des Holmes and I'm a Creative Technical Director & Creative Technologist. I pride myself in hiring and inspiring talented technical teams, forging successful client relationships and humanising technology whilst using open source technologies to deliver large global platforms, small campaigns, rapid prototypes and mobile web applications.

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