Last week Noah Sussman gave a talk and said that developers should ideally program in an environment that resembles as closely as possible the environment they’d use if they were programming just for themselves, because that’s most likely to be the most productive approach.

Usually, I start with something at least a little bit new every time I build a new application, because there’s something I want to learn. So I’ll try a new framework, or a new language, or a new something, just so that I can pick up some new skills in the process of building something.

Noah referred to this approach as naturalistic programming (I think). It made me think of what naturalistic programming is for me. Right now if I’m building an application from scratch, I use Ruby, Sinatra, Bootstrap, and jQuery. For the view layer, I use plain old ERB. For the database, I use SQLite as long as I can, migrating to MySQL if necessary to scale. If using an ORM will save time, my choice is DataMapper.

Any or all of those choices may change next week, but that’s what hits the sweet spot between getting up and running fast and having the flexibility to scale up for me right now.

And interestingly, I think I would make the same choices even if I were starting a new company tomorrow. When you build an application that is going to scale to a large number of users, you’re going to wind up rewriting all of it in phases no matter what. You might as well start out focusing on maximizing productivity and replacing components as they break down.